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SPORTS WEEKEND | COLLEGE FOOTBALL / WEEK 3 PRIMER

The Locals

September 18, 1998|CHRIS DUFRESNE ROBYN NORWOOD

OREGON STATE (2-0) at No. 18 USC (2-0)

* Kickoff: 7 p.m., Fox Sports West 2

* Story line: If USC can avoid a misstep against the improved Beavers, the Trojans can take a 3-0 record into the true test of their mettle--a game against No. 11 Florida State at Tallahassee next weekend. Oregon State hasn't beaten USC since 1967, and the average score since then has been 38-9.

* USC update: The first two games against Purdue and San Diego State were marked by spectacular plays by the ultra-speedy tandem of Chad Morton and R. Jay Soward. Morton probably won't start after sitting out practices because of a back strain but probably will play.

* Oregon State update: In their second season under former USC assistant Mike Riley, the Beavers started with decisive victories over Nevada and Baylor. New quarterback Terrance Bryant and freshman running back Ken Simonton--who rushed for 100 yards in each of his first two games--are the leaders of a revamped offense. Former quarterback Tim Alexander, a standout athlete, is now a receiver. But USC Coach Paul Hackett takes note of the defense, which like his own has given up fewer than 12 points a game.

* Edge to USC: The Trojans defeated Oregon State last season, 23-0. Even though this Oregon State offense is better, USC's defense figures to prevail, and the speed of the Trojan offense is overwhelming.

* Line: USC by 14

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