LOS ANGELES -- Washington State snapped USC's 13-game winning streak last Friday. The Trojans now aim to regroup and extend a different streak: their nearly two-year unbeaten spell at Los Angeles Coliseum Memorial.
A return to the friendly confines comes at an opportune time for No. 14 USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12), which needs to recharge and fix issues that caught up to the Trojans last week. It also helps that Saturday's opponent is Oregon State.
USC is 12-0 at home since Clay Helton became head coach in October 2015. In those games, the Trojans averaged 42.25 points per game, a considerable jump from the 27.9 points per game USC averaged in all road and neutral-site games over the same time frame.
Before scoring 27 on Sept. 16 in a double-overtime win over Texas, the Trojans put up at least 38 in every Coliseum-based contest of Helton's tenure. Conversely, USC has only hit that number only twice in 15 road and neutral games under Helton.
A return home to face the Beavers (1-4, 0-2) presents an opportunity to jump-start a road-weary offense.
USC tied its season-low with the 27 points scored at Washington State, but the Trojans squandered opportunities for more -- including a drive starting at the Cougars 3-yard line after an Uchenna Nwosu interception.
The Trojans' touchdown conversion rate in the red zone last week was 50 percent, down from 60 percent the week prior at Cal.
Red-zone efficiency is just one area in which USC hopes to see improvement with a more experienced offensive line playing this week. The Trojans were without left tackle Toa Lobendahn from the start a week ago, then lost right tackle Chuma Edoga and guard Viane Talamaivao early in the contest. Lobendahn is expected back this week.
"You never envision losing three of your starting offensive linemen," Helton said.
"Then you look out there and you have two true freshmen (Austin Jackson and Andrew Voorhees), who are going to be really good football players, but you have that as your first time out there, in that type of environment, against that defense, it makes it hard."
Helton said Washington State's ability to collapse the pocket complicated quarterback Sam Darnold's passing rhythm and timing. Oregon State, which comes in with just six sacks on the season, must find a way to bring similar pressure.
The Beavers also need to put USC in long-yardage situations on third down -- a battle Washington State won, allowing just two Trojans conversions on 11 attempts. Oregon State ranks last in the nation in opponent third-down conversion rate at 54.6 percent, but the Beavers might get some help if USC continues to "shoot (itself) in the foot," as Helton put it.
"A lot of times, it's not how you're performing on third down," Helton said. "It happens on earlier downs, first-and-second-down efficiency. When you look at our third-down situations, you saw over half of them (were) third-and-long, and some of them were because of penalties."
Penalties have been an issue for Oregon State and USC. The Beavers average 66 penalty yards per game, ranking No. 96 nationally. At 73.2 yards per game, USC is No. 109.
Oregon State faces its own challenges reinvigorating its offense. Since scoring 27 and 35 points in the first two games of the season, the Beavers have been held to 23, 14 and 7 in losses to Washington State, Minnesota and Washington.
Establishing a passing threat has proven difficult. The Beavers average just over 190 passing yards per game, and their 6 yards per attempt ranks No. 113 nationally. Senior Darell Garretson has taken over for injured starting quarterback Jake Luton. Garretson completed 11 of 22 passes against Washington for only 74 yards.
"I think we're playing hard," Garretson said. "It's not like we have guys easing up ... that's all we can ask for."
The running game, expected to be strength, has fizzled too. With starter Ryan Nall nursing an ankle injury, Oregon transfer Thomas Tyner had his most extensive action of the season against Washington, with nine carries for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Helton calls Nwosu the "MVP" of the USC defense so far. He has broken up nine passes this season.
The proposition facing Oregon State in its first visit to the Coliseum since 2014: How do the Beavers prevent Nwosu from disrupting the pass?
"Good question," said Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen. "He's very active and is used within the scheme very well. Talented player, and he's surrounded by a bunch of talented players."