No. 7 USC at Oregon State: Who has the edge?

No. 7 USC at Oregon State

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Oregon

TV/radio: Pac-12 Network/AM 790

Records: USC 3-0, 1-0 in Pac-12; Oregon State 3-0, 0-0

Line: USC by 5½

Notable injuries: USC: PROBABLE: OL Courtland Ford (ankle), OL Bobby Haskins (shoulder); OUT: RUSH Romello Height (shoulder), TE Jude Wolfe (foot); OREGON STATE: OUT: RB Trey Lowe (unspecified), TE Luke Musgrave (unspecified)

What’s at stake? We’ve got two undefeated Pac-12 teams, one ranked seventh in the country and another receiving votes. Both teams are playing their best opponent of the young season. A win for either gives a lot of momentum going forward in the race to the Pac-12 title game, plus a potentially crucial tiebreaker in two months. Plus for USC, there’s that little 45-27 defeat last year in the Coliseum to avenge.

Who’s better? On paper, USC has more NFL prospects, so if that’s how you define better, you go with the Trojans. But Oregon State has been together longer and played together through more games and more adversity as a whole. So while you’d probably still pick USC, the Beavers close the gap more than most other teams.

Matchup to watch: USC’s red-zone defense vs. Oregon State’s red-zone offense. This is where this game will be won. The Trojans have held opponents to just six touchdowns and a field goal in 13 red-zone opportunities this season, while Oregon State is a perfect 14 for 14 inside the 20 with 12 touchdowns. USC gives up a lot of yards and, unless something dramatically changes between Week 3 and Week 4, will continue to do so. But if the Trojans can limit the damage and get off the field either with turnovers or on downs inside the 20, they should return home a happy team.

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USC wins if: The Trojans win the turnover margin, they can limit Oregon State to five plays of 15 yards or more, and QB Caleb Williams throws for four touchdowns.

Prediction: USC 49, Oregon State 45. No one can stop anybody, but one crucial interception or fumble recovery by the USC defense prevents Oregon State from stealing the game.