USC hoping to break cold streak at Oregon State
The Trojans haven’t won in Corvallis since 2004, despite bringing some highly ranked teams the past 10 years to face the Beavers.
The Orange County Register
CORVALLIS, Ore. — The first order of business is protection and coverage. Not the protection of one’s quarterback, or coverage of the opposing receivers, but the most basic, hypothermia-preventing kind.
“The first time, I wasn’t prepared for the weather, but this time I’m very well prepared,” USC receiver De’Von Flournoy said as he tugged on the tight, long-sleeved thermal shirt he wore in practice this week.
The more problems USC can eliminate, the better. Temperatures are expected to dip into the 40s on Friday night when USC faces Oregon State at Reser Stadium, but perhaps it’s not the prospect of frosty air that has the Trojans shivering. The history of USC’s struggles to win in this sleepy college town are more relevant.
USC hasn’t defeated Oregon State on the road since Nov. 6, 2004, when Reggie Bush broke open a one-point game with a 65-yard punt return early in the fourth quarter and the Trojans went on to win, 28-20.
In 2006, USC came to Corvallis undefeated, ranked No. 3 in the nation, and lost, 33-31. In 2008, the Trojans were No. 1 in the country before they fell behind, 21-0, in the first half and lost, 27-21. In 2010, Oregon State raced to a 20-0 lead, knocked Matt Barkley out of the game with an ankle injury and smashed USC, 36-7.
USC leads the all-time series, 59-11-4, and the Trojans haven’t lost to the Beavers at home since 1960. The problem, it seems, is limited to the loud, cozy 45,674-seat stadium that will be new to most Trojans.
“I’ve heard a lot,” tight end Xavier Grimble said. “It’s loud, it’s crazy. But that’s why I came to college football, to play in those type of environments.”
USC has played in only one truly hostile environment this season, two weeks ago at Notre Dame, and the Trojans didn’t respond particularly well. They lost by only four points, but the offense stagnated in a scoreless second half and the offensive line broke down with false-start and holding penalties.
Interim coach Ed Orgeron said he felt he erred in preparing his team for a loud Notre Dame environment.
The Trojans practiced in silence that week. This week, speakers blared crowd noise, Oregon State’s fight song and the sound of a chainsaw, to emulate the noise played at Reser Stadium before third-down plays.
The probable return of top receiver Marqise Lee and starting tight end Xavier Grimble will help USC, but the offensive line has only five healthy scholarship players. If someone gets hurt, it’s walk-on time.
That would be a disaster for USC, which already doesn’t have recent history on its side. Even so, the Trojans seemed eager this week to get their earful of Corvallis for the first time.
“I’m excited,” Grimble said. “I don’t know about anybody else. I’ve never been there. I’ve only really heard the stories, so I’m really ready to get out there and get my own experience.”