Top-ranked USC visits Corvallis

Nov. 1, 2004

Corvallis, Ore. -

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THEME: Oregon State looks to climb above the .500 mark for the first time this season and move closer to becoming bowl eligible. The current win streak of three conference games is the longest in the four-year tenure of head coach Mike Riley. USC enters the game as one of six undefeated teams (Oklahoma, Auburn, Wisconsin, Utah, Boise State) and sporting a 17-game winning streak. OSU is the only team in the country to play both defending national champions (LSU) this season.

ANDERSON OWNS MORE RECORDS: Beaver senior quarterback Derek Anderson became Oregon State's all-time leader for passing yardage (9,876) and total offense (9,384) in last Saturday's victory at Arizona. He added to his career leading total of touchdown passes with two, giving him 66. He needs 124 yards to become the fifth quarterback in Pac-10 history to reach 10,000 yards. Anderson has thrown just one interception in his last 115 pass attempts.

IT'S BEEN A WHILE: USC makes only its third trip to Corvallis since 1995. In the 68-game history of the series, the Trojans have played in Corvallis only 13 times. Nine games have been played in Portland, one in Tacoma (1914) and 45 in Los Angeles.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS IN CORVALLIS: The last time the defending Associated Press national champions visited Corvallis was Oct. 6, 1973 by USC. The Trojans won that game 21-7.

SELLOUT STREAK CONTINUES: Saturday's game will mark the 27th consecutive sellout for Oregon State at Reser Stadium (35,362).

VS. NO. 1: Oregon State is 1-5 all time vs. No. 1 ranked teams at the time of the game. The Beavers last played a top-ranked team on Oct. 16, 1982 at Corvallis -- losing to Washington 34-17. Here is a closer look at the games vs. No. 1:

Oct. 16, 1982 vs. Washington -- UW 34-17UW -- QB Steve Pelleur 240 yds passing; RB Jacque Robinson 99 yds; WR Paul Skansi 8 rec. 86 yds. OSU -- RB Bryce Oglesby 107 yds; QB Ed Singler 166 yds passing. OSU trails 20-17 in 3rd quarter.

Oct. 3, 1981 vs. USC -- USC 56-22SC -- RB Marcus Allen 233 yds, 3 tds; OSU -- QB Ed Singler 222 ydsUSC leads 43-17 at halftime, Allen scores all three tds in first half.

Sept. 15, 1979 vs. USC -- USC 42-5SC -- RB Mike Harper 126 yds; QB Paul McDonald 2 td passes; OSU -- QB Scott Richardson 248 yds. USC leads 35-3 at halftime.

Sept. 16, 1972 at USC -- USC 51-6SC -- QB Mike Rae 248 yds, 1 td; RB Rod McNeil 111 yds, 3 tds; SC 670 total yards, OSU 92; OSU 7 fumbles, loses 5.

Nov. 16, 1968 at USC -- USC 17-13OSU leads 7-0 entering 4th quarter; SC -- RB O.J. Simpson 238 yds, 1 td; QB Steve Sogge 110 yds passing, 1 td; OSU -- RB Bill Enyart 68 yds, 1 td; QB Steve Preece 151 yds passing, 1 td.

Nov. 11, 1967 vs. USC -- OSU 3-0Total Yds -- USC 206, OSU 204; SC -- RB O.J. Simpson 188 yds; OSU -- RB Bill Enyart 135 yds; OSU PK Mike Haggard 30-yard FG in 2nd quarter.

QUARTERBACKS BEWARE: The quarterbacks in Saturday's game will need to be accurate on their passes and both teams thrive on interceptions. Over the last two seasons USC is second in the nation with 35 interceptions while Oregon State is tied for third with West Virginia and Troy with 33. Nebraska has 44.

FAVORITE TARGETS: Beaver quarterbacks have looked for their tight ends often this season; in fact Oregon State leads the Pac-10 for receptions by the position with 53. Sophomore Joe Newton is second on the team with 35 (missed 1 game), reserves Dan Haines has 10 and Pat Loney has eight. Stanford is second for receptions by tight ends with 48.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Oregon State enters the week with the third most difficult schedule in the nation, according to Jeff Sagarin of USA Today. The Beavers have played California (#4), Boise State (#16), LSU (#17) and Arizona State (#23). The Pac-10 is well represented in the schedule rankings, Arizona State is first, California is fourth, USC sixth, Washington seventh and Arizona eighth.

THE SERIES: USC has a 56-8-4 advantage in the series that dates back to 1914. USC won 26 straight games between 1968 and 1999, before OSU ended the streak with a 31-21 victory during the 2000 season. The Trojans have won the last three meetings, all in Los Angeles. OSU nearly made it two in row vs. the Trojans, but a pair of missed field goals in the 2001 game ultimately led to a 16-13 overtime victory for the Trojans at the L.A. Coliseum. USC won last year at the Coliseum 52-28 on Dec. 6. Beaver quarterback Derek Anderson passed for 485 yards, the second most ever against USC, and led the offense to 543 total yards. Receiver Mike Hass had eight receptions for 208 yards, including a 90-yard strike to the Trojan 1 on the second play of the game from scrimmage. USC quarterback Matt Lienart had 278 yards passing and five touchdowns.

HEALTH STATUS: As of Nov. 1, senior linebacker and co-team captain Jonathan Pollard is the only starter questionable this week. Pollard, who is second for the team for tackles for loss with eight, sprained his left ankle in the first half of last Saturday's game at Arizona. His status will be determined throughout the week. Backup cornerback sophomore Kellen Marshall is out for the season after knee surgery in October. Reserve Harvey Whiten, originally on the two-deep at strong safety, is out for the season after having surgery on his left hamstring in September.

RECORD PASSING PACE: Oregon State is on pace to pass for 3,185 yards, which would be the most ever for the program in an 11-game season. The current high is 3,152 in 1987. The school record is 4,265 yards in 2003 (13 games).

INTERESTING STAT: Head coach Mike Riley has been speaking about how the team needs more balance on offense in terms of the rush vs. the pass. Here is a closer examination of this year's statistics:

			Wins	Losses	Rush Att.	164	96	Pass Att.	161	191	Difference	3	95

Rushing P/G 114.2 53.5 Poss. Time Avg. 34:04 27:51

THIRD AND LONG: Oregon State's opponents have converted just 11 of 78 (.141) third down attempts when the distance is six yards or greater. By comparison, OSU has converted 21 of 84 (.250).

FIRST STRIKE OFFENSE: Oregon State has scored on its first possession of the game in four of the last five games and in six of eight overall. The Beavers failed to convert on its first drive at Arizona, but did on their second. Arizona and New Mexico are the only teams to not allow OSU to score on its opening drive.

TURNOVER REVERSAL: Oregon State ranked last in the Pac-10 and 103rd in the nation for turnover margin at minus-1.40 entering the Oct. 16 game at Washington. The Beavers have forced 14 turnovers over the last three games, while committing four, and have moved up to fourth in the league and 43rd overall with a 0.38 margin.

LOOKING FORWARD: Former Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel claimed Washington as the 'Northwest Champions' last year by virtue of victories over WSU, UO and OSU. Oregon State has an opportunity to make that claim this year if it can beat Oregon at home Nov. 20. The OSU program hasn't beaten all of its Northwest rivals in the same year since 1974.

QUARTERBACK PRESSURE: Oregon State has 16 quarterback sacks for the season, 11of those in the last four games. OSU career quarterback sacks record holder Bill Swancutt has 4.5 of the 11 and has a school record 30 for his career.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: Junior linebacker Trent Bray is second in the Pac-10 for solo tackles with 50 (Spencer Havner, UCLA, 62). He ranks third for overall stops with 87, trailing Havner (98) and Washington's Joe Lobendahn (89). Bray has accounted for double figures for tackles in five of the eight games this season. He is on pace to finish with 120 tackles for the season, tied for ninth at OSU.

MEEUWSEN IN THE RECORD BOOK:Senior safety Mitch Meeuwsen is the new OSU career record holder for interceptions with 18. The Forest Grove High School graduate had two picks at Washington to move him pass Dan Espalin into the record book and has added one against WSU and Arizona in the last two weeks. Twelve of his 18 have come in Pac-10 Conference games. Meeuwsen is currently second for active interceptions in the NCAA trailing only Wisconsin's Jim Leonhard (19).

AIR DEFENSE:Senior cornerback Aric Williams is the co-Pac-10 leader (Matt Clark, UCLA) for passes defended with 12 (8 brup, 4 int). Sophomore strong safety Sabby Piscitelli is third with 11 (7 brup, 4 int) and senior free safety Mitch Meeuwsen is tied for fifth with 10 (6 brup, 4 int). All three are tied for first with four other conference players for the league lead in interceptions.

OSU-USC CONNECTIONS: Oregon State head coach Mike Riley was the USC offensive coordinator/assistant head coach from 1993-96 -- USC won the Rose, Cotton and Freedom Bowls during his tenure. Beaver defensive coordinator Mark Banker was an assistant at USC in 1996. Wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander was an offensive assistant at SC in 1996 and `97, and a video coordinator in 95. Alexander was a two-year letterman receiver at USC. Graduate assistant coach Gurjot Dhaliwal was a tight end at SC from 1985-88.

TRUE FRESHMEN EARNING TIME: Six true-freshmen have participated in games this season. Sammie Stroughter has earned the job as punt and kick returner, Lamar Herron has been a factor as a reserve defensive back and special teams member, and Charles Burnley, Daniel Drayton, Alan Darlin, and Matt Sieverson have participated mainly on special teams.

RARE RUSHING WOES: Oregon State has been among the conference and national leaders for rushing offense over the past few seasons, but 2004 has been a different story. The Beavers are averaging 83.9 yards per game on the ground -- 10th in the Pac-10 and 115th in the nation. USC is first in the conference and fourth in the nation for rushing defense allowing 71.0 yards.

PENALTY PROBLEMS: Oregon State continues to have issues with penalties and is ninth in the league averaging 81.2 yards per game. Maybe the most telling statistic is OSU's opponents have 28 first downs via penalty, compared to just 15 for the Beavers. While the 81.2 figure is high, it's down from 110.2 yards in 2003 and 100.2 in `02.

LINEBACKER U -- WEST COAST: Penn State has long been considered one of the best programs for outstanding linebackers and future NFL stars. Oregon State can argue it's the version of 'Linebacker U' on the West Coast. James Allen, a 3rd Round selection of the New Orleans Saints after the 2002 season is a starter; Nick Barnett, a 1st Round selection of the Green Bay Packers after the `03 season was the club's Defensive Rookie of the Year last year; and Richard Seigler was a 4th Round pick of the San Francisco 49ers following last season and is in the rotation.

THE ONE AND ONLY: Oregon State is the only program in the nation to play the two defending 2003 national champions. The Beavers traveled to defending Bowl Championship Series title winners LSU Sept. 4. USC, the `03 Associated Press champion, visits Reser Stadium Sat., Nov. 6.

THREE OUT OF FOUR....: Oregon State plays three of the four programs that lost just one game last season -- LSU, USC and Boise State. Miami (Ohio) also had one setback in 2003.

DIFFICULT SCHEDULE: Many have selected Oregon State's 2004 schedule as the toughest in the nation. The first ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll had USC No.1, LSU No. 3, California No. 15 and Oregon No. 25. OSU was in the 'also receiving votes' category with Boise State, WSU, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington and New Mexico., the Sporting News and Fox Sports among others lists OSU with the most difficult slate. The combined record of the Beavers' three non-conference opponents in 2003 was 34-7 (.829) -- the highest percentage in the nation in a study conducted by Chris Burkhalter of the University of Houston:1. .829 Oregon St. (34-7); 2. .789 Iowa St. (30-8); 3. .769 Cincinnati (30-9); 4. .755 Arkansas St. (40-13); 5. .730 Georgia Tech (27-10)

MORE SCHEDULE NOTES: Seven of Oregon State's 11 opponents in 2004 played in a bowl game in 2003 -- LSU, Boise State, New Mexico, California, Washington State, USC and Oregon. An eighth opponent, Washington, was eligible but was not invited.

NO QB CONTROVERSY HERE: Oregon State has had the luxury of having just two quarterbacks start over the last 72 games -- Jonathan Smith (current asst. coach at Idaho) and Derek Anderson. During that 72-game span the program has participated in the Fiesta, O'ahu, Insight and Las Vegas Bowls.

TEAM CAPTAINS: Seniors Derek Anderson (QB), Jonathan Pollard (LB) and Bill Swancutt (DE) serve as the team captains this season. The team also elects one game captain each week.

NEW THREADS: For the first time in five years Oregon State has new uniforms. The Nike designed uniforms were unveiled to the public Aug. 23. The Beavers wear white-on-white on the road and black-on-black at home. OSU wore its accustomed white jerseys at LSU forcing the Tigers out of their traditional home color and into their purple jerseys.

RAISING RESER: Oregon State is in the midst of refurbishing its home venue, Reser Stadium. Construction is currently ongoing to expand the stadium from its current capacity of 35,362 to approximately 43,000. The $93 million project is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2005 season. Temporary bleachers have been built for the 2004 home schedule.