Two fierce Pac-12 competitors who have looked better than their records indicate square off Friday night, as the Oregon State Beavers host the USC Trojans. Television coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
When Lane Kiffin was fired, it looked like USC may not be able to make a bowl game. Suddenly, the Trojans stand at 5-3 after a dominating win over Utah, one game away from a postseason berth with very winnable games against Colorado and California still left on the schedule. They appear to be firmly in the Pac-12 South mix (as long as Arizona State slips up somewhere).
Oregon State suffered the highest-profile FBS-to-FCS upset in Week 1, when it fell to Eastern Washington as a ranked team. Since then, the Beavers climbed back into the Top 25 by winning six in a row and looking fairly dominant. The Beavers lost their second game of the year last week against a very good Stanford team, falling 20-12, and dropping out of a tie for first in the Pac-12 North. The Beavers are bringing an "orange-out" with full-out orange uniforms and brand new orange helmets Saturday.
Rankings and records: Neither team is ranked, but Oregon State is in "other receiving votes." The Trojans are 5-3, with a 2-2 conference record (fourth in the South). The Beavers are 6-2, and their 4-1 Pac-12 record puts them in third in the North.
Vegas: Oregon State is a 4.5-point favorite, and the over/under is 52.5 points. OddsShark has more.
Weather: 40s and cloudy
Three names to know
Sean Mannion. Oregon State has the most yardage-amassing passing offense in the country, and it all starts with the junior quarterback, who has thrown for 30 touchdowns already this season. He has topped 400 yards passing in five of Oregon State's eight games this season, leads the FBS in passing by nearly 400 yards, and won the Manning Award Player of the Week four times.
Brandin Cooks. Mannion's top target leads the nation in nearly every relevant receiving statistic: Receptions (85), receptions per game (10.6), yards (1256), touchdowns (13, tied with Fresno's Davante Adams).
Ed Orgeron. With injuries continuing to pile up for USC, it seems like Coach O, only on the job for about a month, is the most consistent presence for the Trojans. Orgeron is 2-1 since taking over for Lane Kiffin, and while he's highly unlikely to get the USC job, he is auditioning for a potential head coaching spot elsewhere.
Two things at stake
A win for USC would be monumental for its momentum, granting the Trojans bowl eligibility and their first win over a legitimate Pac-12 contender this season.
If Oregon State has any hope of staying in the conference race, it cannot lose a single game.
How to witness
TV: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Radio: All USC games can be found on ESPN radio. Here's a list of Oregon State affiliates.
Online streaming: WatchESPN