Rodgers, Oregon State pound Southern Cal
CORVALLIS — Whatever magic Oregon State seems to have over USC at Reser Stadium, it was present for the Beavers even before Saturday night's game.
"I said the words, 'It's a Beaver evening right now,'" said center Alex Linnenkhol. "I could feel it."
Oregon State beat No. 20 Southern California 36-7 — its third straight victory over the Trojans in Corvallis.
"Just coming out before the game, you could tell something was different," said Ryan Katz, who threw for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 128 yards and another score for the Beavers (5-5, 4-3 Pac-10), who avoided their first three-game losing streak since 2002.
The Trojans (7-4, 4-4) lost quarterback Matt Barkley to a sprained left ankle just before halftime, but they were already behind 20-0 to a Beavers team fighting for bowl eligibility.
The victory felt eerily similar to 2008, when the Beavers pulled off a 27-21 upset and cost the Trojans a shot at the national championship.
Because both programs are having somewhat down seasons by recent standards, the post-game celebration by Beavers fans after the game was subdued. The band played "Don't Stop Believin'."
Losses this season to UCLA and Washington State have put Oregon State in a hole when it comes to a bowl berth. After the Trojans, the Beavers visit No. 7 Stanford before hosting top-ranked Oregon in the annual Civil War rivalry game.
The Beavers looked nothing like the team that lost to the Bruins and the Cougars, jumping on USC from the start with a 34-yard field goal from Justin Kahut before Jordan Poyer's 65-yard interception return.
Oregon State went up 17-0 midway through the second quarter on Rodgers' 3-yard touchdown run. Kahut added a 38-yard field goal.
Barkley sprained his left ankle just before the half and was helped off the field before he was taken away on a cart. Backup Mitch Mustain took over in the second half.
Kahut opened the second half with a 35-yard field goal before USC scored on C.J. Gable's 13-yard scoring run.
Jordan Bishop caught a 5-yard touchdown pass and Joe Halhuni caught an 8-yard score for the final margin. Katz completed 17 of 24 throws.
Barkley completed 10 of 19 passes for 75 yards before he left with a high ankle sprain. Mustain completed eight of 17 passes for 60 yards.
Afterward, Barkley was asked if he felt like his season was over.
"That's the last thing I want and I'll do everything in my power not to let that happen," he said.
Southern California hosts Notre Dame next week before wrapping up the season against UCLA on Dec. 4.
Beavers coach Mike Riley can't explain why the Trojans can't seem to win in Corvallis. Or in the state of Oregon, for that matter. Southern California hasn't been able to win a game in the state since a victory at Autzen Stadium in 2005.
"I don't know. I'll just say, out of respect for them, you have to get ready to play, and our guys did," Riley said.
Trojans coach Lane Kiffin was just as perplexed.
"I don't know that anybody has ever figured it out," he said. "They play really well when they're up here against us, and we've helped them out."
USC leads the series against the Beavers 59-11-4, but the Beavers have had home-field advantage in recent years.
In 2006, the Trojans were ranked No. 3 and Oregon State pulled off a 33-31 upset, snapping USC's 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. Then in 2008, the Trojans were ranked No. 1 when the Beavers derailed them. Southern California went 12-1 that season and whipped Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
But since then, Oregon has taken over as the team to beat in the Pac-10. Carroll departed to the Seattle Seahawks and Kiffin took over a team that was later sanctioned by the NCAA for violations involving former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. One of the penalties was a two-year postseason ban.
The Trojans were dealing with more controversy this week. Promising freshman tailback Dillon Baxter didn't make the trip to Corvallis after what Kiffin characterized as an inadvertent contact with an agent earlier this week.
On a video posted on the Trojans' website, Kiffin said Baxter got a ride on campus Thursday in a golf cart driven by two students. The coach said USC later learned one of the students "may be an agent."
The school immediately reported the incident to the NCAA.
When Baxter did not participate in Thursday's practice, the Trojans announced he had been briefly hospitalized because of an illness and dehydration. It wasn't immediately clear whether both stories about Thursday's events were true.
Oregon State and USC will not meet again until 2013 because of Pac-10 expansion.