2021 Game 4: USC Football vs. Oregon State
Oregon State Beavers (2-1, 0-0) vs. USC Trojans (2-1, 1-1)
United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on FS1 at 7:30pm PT
Beaver to Watch: Junior RB B.J. Baylor
Oregon State lost Jermar Jefferson, the No. 2 rusher in the Pac-12 in 2020, but seamlessly replaced him with Baylor. Formerly the backup to Jefferson, Baylor leads all Pac-12 backs with 7 rushing touchdowns, and he's second in ground yards. He's explosive at 6.9 yards per carry, breaking one for 66 yards against Hawaii in Week 2.
Return of the King
Kedon Slovis is expected to start at quarterback after playing only one series against Washington State before injuring his neck. Freshman Jaxson Dart sparked the offense in his place just like Slovis did for USC back in 2019. The junior would do well to follow the freshman's lead in this case, pushing the ball aggressively down the field and spreading it around to all his targets. Ideally, the Trojans will pick up their running game, but ultimately, this offense comes down to the quarterback, so USC needs Slovis to get back to his All-Pac-12 form.
Oregon State has the best offense in the league through three weeks, averaging 453 yards per game. The Beavers have taken a balanced approach with the Pac-12's third-best rushing offense and fourth-best passing offense. In a pick your poison scenario, USC has to stop the run first and put the ball in the hands of sophomore QB Chance Nolan. The young quarterback has been excellent so far (5 TDs/0 INTs), but he's winless in four games against Power 5 teams the last two seasons, so beating the Trojans in the Coliseum is a daunting task.
With another week as head coach under his belt, Donte Williams is starting to show the team what he's really about and that's accountability. He's instituted disciplinary measures that extend from the coaching staff on down through the players, and he's getting the Trojans to buy into a team-first approach. They did well to rally together in adverse circumstance last Saturday in Pullman and now need to build momentum and confidence as the season progresses.