An unranked Oregon State team traveling to face a USC team coming off a loss to Boston College might not have been the nightcap many college football fans were interested in on Saturday, but it was one NFL scouts had an eye on.
Featuring a number of top prospects who could hear their names called early in next year's draft, the somewhat sluggish contest had a handful of exciting plays but wasn't exactly the showcase game some thought it would be. The Trojans emerged with a 35-10 victory and extended the Beavers' winless streak at the Coliseum to 54 years.
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion had a fairly rough night with protection issues and a lack of weapons contributing to a difficult performance. The senior is considered the top senior quarterback in the nation by a lot of people, but he finished just 15-of-32 for 123 yards and two interceptions. He failed to get any help from his running game (58 yards at just 2.8 per carry) and it was an unmemorable night for Mike Riley's offense altogether.
Things were still relatively close between the two teams until just prior to halftime when USC connected on a Hail Mary as time expired to stretch its lead to 21-10. The OSU offense was shut out in the second half and penalties marred an extremely slow-moving game.
USC's Leonard Williams, talked about as a possible top-10 pick if he were to declare early, had a good night despite often being double- and triple-teamed by the Beavers. He got to Mannion several times on the night and looked much better than the last time he was on the field in Boston. Safety Su'a Cravens played quite a bit at linebacker and was rewarded early on by scoring the first points of the night with a pick-six in which he undercut a receiver and took it to the end zone.
The Trojans' offense flashed its potential on a number of occasions with Steve Sarkisian's group finding much more success in the running game. Javorius "Buck" Allen posted 115 yards rushing and had a nice touchdown run from 17 yards out. Quarterback Cody Kessler spread the ball around to nine different receivers and had a solid line of 24-of-32 for 261 yards and two scores. The junior signal-caller continued to keep pace with the mistake-free play of Oregon's Marcus Mariota early in the season, with Kessler running his total to 10 touchdowns without a pick and a completion percentage over 70 percent.
While things get easier on the field next week for Oregon State when the Beavers take a trip to Colorado, things do not for USC. The Trojans will host Arizona State on Saturday in a game with huge Pac-12 South implications.