No. 14 USC ready to rebound against Oregon State
By DAN GREENSPAN
LOS ANGELES (AP) Southern California won its final nine games last season after losing at Utah in quarterback Sam Darnold's first start.
The No. 14 Trojans will aim for another streak after falling at No. 11 Washington State. They play lowly Oregon State on Saturday. Coach Clay Helton has spent the last week emphasizing that every goal USC wants to accomplish can still be achieved.
"For us as a team, we're in a great situation right now. You are always trying to improve year in, year out, and I remember this time last year we're sitting at 2-3," Helton said.
But to meet those expectations, injury-riddled USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) will need to get healthy. Right guard Viane Talamaivao is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle that requires surgery, and his likely replacement, freshman Andrew Vorhees, was held out of practice Thursday with a tight back. However, he's still expected to play.
Right tackle Chuma Edoga is doubtful with a high-ankle sprain. The list of bumps and bruises seems to get longer every week.
Helton couldn't help but ruefully laugh when recounting how linebacker Jordan Iosefa and wide receiver Jalen Greene were injured when they accidentally collided during pregame warmups against the Cougars.
"I've never seen it in 23 years," Helton said. "It was a bad deal. We've had some bad luck lately. That's about as much as I can take as far as injuries go."
USC will handle those injuries without a bye week during the regular season. The struggling Beavers (1-4, 0-2) might be the closest thing to a win because of their own injury woes. Running back Ryan Nall is a game-time decision after spraining his ankle in a loss to Washington last week, and quarterback Jake Luton remains out indefinitely with a thoracic spine fracture.
Redshirt junior Darrell Garretson will start for Oregon State. In nine games since transferring from Utah State, Garretson has completed 50.6 percent of his passes for 711 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Oregon State has been outscored 200-71 in its four games against FBS teams. However, USC said it is not overlooking a team that will be desperate for an upset.
"USC is a lot of people's Super Bowl, especially a team like Oregon State, so we just got to stick to what we do," USC safety Chris Hawkins said.
Here are some things to watch as the Trojans and Beavers meet for the first time since 2014:
DARNOLD'S DOLDRUMS: Darnold threw for 164 yards against Washington State, his lowest total as a starter. Some of that can be attributed to an offensive line playing most of the game without three starters and facing a strong Washington State pass rush. Plus there's been turnover at wide receiver. Darnold will have reinforcements in both areas as left tackle Toa Lobendahn and wide receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. will return to the lineup this week. Lobendahn didn't play at Washington State due to a skin infection that required intravenous antibiotics. Mitchell has missed the last two games with a groin injury.
LA COLISEUM: Oregon State hasn't beaten USC in Los Angeles since 1960 and has lost 23 straight games at the Coliseum. Only five of those games have been decided by one possession, while USC has been ranked in the Top 25 in all but six of those meetings.
TYNER TIME: With Nall's status in doubt, senior running back Thomas Tyner could be in line for his most significant workload since playing for in-state rival Oregon against Ohio State in the 2015 national championship game. Tyner medically retired from the Ducks after shoulder surgery sidelined him for the 2015 season before transferring to Oregon State in May. A former five-star recruit, Tyner has rushed for 72 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries in three games this season. During two seasons at Oregon, Tyner rushed for 1,284 yards and 14 touchdowns, including 124 yards and two touchdowns in the 2015 Rose Bowl win over Florida State.
MISCUES: Oregon State has turned the ball over 14 times this season, the second-worst total in the FBS ahead of only San Jose State. Even worse, opponents have turned those four interceptions and 10 fumbles lost into 79 points (10 touchdowns, three field goals). The only time Oregon State hasn't allowed a score after turning the ball over came last week against the Huskies, when safety David Morris intercepted a pass to get the ball back after running back Artavis Pierce fumbled.
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Updated October 6, 2017