USC is missing close to 30 scholarship players, but two key players that the Men of Troy absolutely do have: a quarterback and a running back. Quarterback Cody Kessler diced Oregon State for an ultra-efficient 261 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-32 passing, and Buck Allen added 20 rushes for 115 yards and a touchdown to push No. 18 USC past Oregon State 35-10 on Saturday night.
The quarterback-running back duo may have carried the water for USC, but it was defensive back-turned-linebacker Su’a Cravens that got the Trojans going with a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown with 5:11 to play in the first quarter. Ryan Murphy took the ensuing kick back 97 yards for a touchdown, and the Beavers added a 38-yard Trevor Romaine field goal early in the second quarter to grab a 10-7 lead, but that would be it offensively for Oregon State on this night.
Kessler hit Justin Davis for a 16-yard touchdown on the following drive, and then connected with Darreus Rogers on a 48-yard Hail Mary on the final play of the first half, effectively putting the game away at 21-10. Allen added a 17-yard scoring dash to open the fourth quarter, and his backup Justin Davis closed the scoring with a 21-yard burst at the 5:02 mark of the fourth quarter.
USC threw for 261 yards and rushed for precisely 200 more (Davis added 82 yards on 15 carries) and did not turn the ball over. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I feel like teams that rush and pass for 200 yards and don’t turn the ball over win home games approximately 95.2 percent of the time.
Especially when the opponent doesn’t hit 200 yards of total offense.
Sean Mannion looked like a quarterback that ranked second nationally in passing a year ago solely due to the presence of the now-departed Brandin Cooks, passing for a paltry 123 yards (he averaged 358.6 in 2013) on 15-of-32 passing with no scores and two picks. The Beavers rushed 21 times for a total of 58 yards.
With losses by Arizona State and Utah this week, USC (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) remains atop the Pac-12 South alongside UCLA and Arizona. The Trojans host No. 15 Arizona State on Saturday.
Oregon State drops to 3-1 (0-1 Pac-12) and visits Colorado on Saturday.