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September 23, 2008Two of the last three times the Trojan football team has traveled north to Corvallis, Ore., USC has come with a loss.
But Tuesday during his weekly media luncheon, Trojan head coach Pete Carroll didn't blame crowd noise or the tough trip to the Pacific Northwest for the loss.
Frankly, Carroll said, other factors were at work, particularly in the Trojans' 33-31 loss in 2006.
"We put the ball on the ground," Carroll said.
The Trojans turned the ball over four times in suffering one of their two losses.
With over a week and a half to prepare for Oregon State this time, Carroll said, he's made sure his team is respecting what Oregon State can do.
"We look at this game knowing it's Pac-10 time, and Pac-10 games have always been challenging and difficult. It doesn't matter who you're playing, it's always a difficult challenge."
Carroll said the Beaver offense is aggressive and attacking while the defense is always near the top of the Pac-10.
"We have high regard for all that they do," Carroll said. "We're taking this first game extremely seriously.
"It's a championship opportunity for us to go up and get the Pac-10 underway."
The Trojans will be without Shareece Wright Thursday night, but despite that blow to the secondary, USC enters the game relatively healthy.
Oregon State Mike Riley head coach said he's enjoyed watching the Trojans on film, but he's not enjoyed preparing to stop a fairly complete attack.
"They're really impressive," Riley said. "They do a tremendous job of utilizing personnel and fitting guys in. They have a true identity on both sides of the ball. They do a great job playing to the strengths of their people."
Oregon State (1-2, Pac-10 0-1) rebounded after a rough start by taking care of Hawaii 45-7.
"The best way to describe the Beavers is we're growing," Riley said. "I was disappointed in our start, but I appreciated our team kept plugging away."
Oregon State's top weapons appear to be on the outside, where Sammie Stroughter, Shane Morales, James Rodgers and true freshman tailback Jacquizz Rodgers are at their best.
"Our perimeter, talent-wise, is as good as we've had in a while," Riley said.
Despite the fact Oregon State is replacing its entire front seven this season, Carroll said, he's expecting it to be a fight at Reser Stadium.
"We'd love to play a nice football game, get out of there with a win and go home," Carroll said.
Highlight video from Pete Carroll press conference