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Thursday Night Football Primer: USC Prepares To Crush Oregon State

Give ESPN credit for Thursday night college football. In the beginning the Thursday night slate was awful. Rarely, if ever, would good teams play against other decent teams. It was the bottom of the college football barrel. Then teams started to recognize the value in monopolizing the nation's attention by playing on a different night. The last couple of seasons has proven this newfound Thursday night cachet. Witness last season when ESPN's Thursday night scheduler (whoever he is) deserved a full expenses paid trip to Thailand for a month. Every week brought another game that drastically impacted the national championship picture, conference titles, or the Heisman Trophy. And it was Thursday. Meaning you had a reason to rush home, kick back on the couch, break open a beer, and revel in football during the week. The games were compelling, hard fought, and served as great primers for Saturday. This week, we've got USC-Oregon State. Which, to be fair, ain't that bad. Granted USC opened as a 24 point favorite and will probably beat the bejesus out of Oregon State. But at least USC is going on the road against a Pac-10 team. In conference brain farts are the only thing that have kept the Trojans from complete and utter college football dominance. Crazier things have happened than USC losing to Oregon State. Stanford, anyone? In fact, the last time USC went on the road to lovely Corvallis, Oregon in 2006, they lost 33-31 to break a string of 38 consecutive regular season wins. It's going to be cool (mid 50's with the potential of rain) at kickoff. Meaning USC's Mark Sanchez (who by the way, isn't he what A.C. Slater would have become if Slater weren't fictional) will have to break out the turtleneck to avoid the chills. Both teams are coming off bye weeks. In fact, USC has already had two bye weeks (three if you count UVa). It's been two weeks since they ran roughshod over the Buckeyes. This game will set up USC for 8 consecutive weeks of play until a much-needed third bye week of the season before the Notre Dame game. Meanwhile Oregon State (the only people who can name all three of their opponents still think wearing Beaver baseball caps are cool and/or attend Oregon State) is 1-2 and also coming off a bye week. So far Oregon State has lost to Stanford and Penn State while beating Hawai'i. None of these performances instill great confidence. Least of all the 45-14 loss to Penn State. Even still, this is one of USC's 5 Pac-10 road games and how often do you get a chance to see the number one team in the country on a stage all their own? Not often. Especially not when they're on the West Coast and have a television package that falls somewhere between nonexistent and "Hey, do I get Fox College Sports Pacific," or whatever the hell that station is that is still not in HD. Anyway, three things to note tonight. 1. Joe McKnight has still only carried the ball 18 times this season. Rumor is Brent Musberger has videotaped these runs and watches them flit across his ceiling at night while he's in bed. This is probably true. McKnight is averaging a Reggie Bushian 9.2 yards a carry. Better find out where his parents are living. Pronto. 2. Oregon State's quarterback is named Lyle. Meaning he must have been born in 1958. Which makes his performance all the more impressive. He's averaging over 300 yards a game passing including 404 against Stanford in the opener. On the downside he's 5'11 and weighs 235 pounds. I think he's eating those really cool Beaver hats. 3. Mark Sanchez is listed as "Questionable: groin chafing" on the USC injury report. When asked to explain this injury, Pete Carroll replied, "Hey, that's why you come to USC. We do bye weeks well." So there's that. Kickoff at 9. Be there. I'm told that the most famous Oregon State alum not named Steven Jackson will be there. I have no idea what her name was but she was on the cover of Playboy holding a football. Sign her up.


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