Loving November

Southern California's November success frequently paves the way for a run at a national championship. That won't be the case this season.

With their BCS title hopes dashed, the No. 13 Trojans look to remain perfect in the month of November under coach Pete Carroll while trying to continue their home dominance over Oregon State in a Pac-10 matchup on Saturday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made USC -15 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on Oregon State +15 (View College Football bet percentages).

USC (6-2, 3-2) lost 24-17 at then-No. 5 Oregon last Saturday to end its national championship chances and deliver a serious setback to any conference title hopes. The Trojans have claimed at least a share of the last five Pac-10 crowns.

Though the Trojans will take two losses into the season's final full month for the first time since 2002, and are tied with Oregon State (5-3, 3-2) for fourth place in the conference - two games behind leader Arizona State - they'll try to improve to 21-0 in November since Carroll arrived in 2001.

"(Remaining undefeated in November is) not a big battle cry for me, never has been," Carroll said. "But finishing, finishing has always been one of the tenets of our program. And it's finish time now. If we finish really strong, and we put this thing together, we'll have really overcome some difficult things.''

USC looks for its 21st straight home win over Oregon State since a 14-0 loss to the Beavers on Sept. 16, 1960. The Beavers, though, did defeat USC in Corvallis in their most recent meeting, 33-31 on Oct. 28, 2006.

The Trojans face a challenging November slate, with road games at California and No. 6 Arizona State before closing at home against UCLA on Dec. 1.

"We just have to stick to our way of doing things,'' safety Taylor Mays said. "We have to finish strong. I don't think the focus changes.''

Senior quarterback John David Booty could start for USC after missing the last three games due to a broken middle finger suffered in a 24-23 home loss to Stanford on Oct. 6.

Booty would like a better outing after throwing four second-half interceptions versus the Cardinal. He was 24-for-39 for a career-high 406 yards with three touchdowns and an interception's in last season's loss to Oregon State.

Sophomore Mark Sanchez threw seven TDs and four interceptions while going 2-1 in Booty's absence.

"If John's full-speed, ready to go, he's the starter,'' Carroll said. "The question mark through these last few weeks is whether he could play effectively or not. And if there is a question about that, we were thrilled to play Mark, because he's a heck of a player, a great young kid coming up.''

Either quarterback could be expected to throw often Saturday as Oregon State's defense is the best in the nation against run, allowing 54.5 yards per game.

The Beavers, who will try for their fourth straight win since consecutive losses to Arizona State and UCLA, are averaging 28.3 points during their winning streak.

"Oregon State is playing really good football right now, they've won three in a row,'' Carroll said. "They've looked good in a number of ways.''

Quarterback Sean Canfield was 14-for-21 for 142 yards and a touchdown in the Beavers' 23-6 home win over Stanford last Saturday. Senior running back Yvenson Bernard ran for 62 yards and a TD on nine carries before leaving with a sprained shoulder.

Bernard, who has rushed for 814 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, could miss Saturday's contest. Matt Sieverson, who ran for 68 yards last week, would likely start in his place.

Senior Alexis Serna made three field goals against Stanford and is 6-for-6 in his last two contests. He had four field goals - including a 47- and 53-yarder - versus USC last season.

The Beavers will try for their second straight road victory over a ranked team after winning 31-28 at then-No. 2 California on Oct. 13.

They know, however, that despite USC's struggles, pulling off another upset won't be easy.

"We can't go down there and think because they have lost two Pac-10 games, they are going to roll over for us," Oregon State center Kyle DeVan said. "They are still one of the top teams in the country in my opinion."

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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