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September 29, 2000|DAVID WHARTON

No. 8 USC (3-0) at Oregon State (3-0)

* Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Corvallis, Ore. Fox Sports West 2.

* Story line: The Trojans begin Pacific 10 play against an Oregon State team that gave them a scare at the Coliseum last season. The Beavers still have standouts Ken Simonton at tailback and Jonathan Smith at quarterback. This time, they also have a defense that ranks third in the nation after shutting down lesser opponents such as San Diego State.

* USC update: Cornerback Kris Richard has looked strong in practice after being slowed by a sore knee the past few weeks. The prognosis is not as good for the special teams, desperate to bounce back from last week's blocked punt and missed extra points.

* Oregon State update: Speedy receiver Robert Prescott could return to the lineup this week, giving the Beavers another weapon. Through three games, Simonton ranks fifth in the nation in rushing with 158 yards a game and first in scoring with an average of two touchdowns.

* Edge to USC: The second half of last week's game showed the Trojans, when properly motivated, can contain the spread offense and score points in a hurry. Oregon State figures to be tougher than San Jose State, but USC figures to be motivated for this conference opener.

* Line: USC by 5 1/2.

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