Beavers Set for Rumble in Top 20 Showdown at Stanford
Nov. 6, 2012
THIS WEEK: No. 11 BCS/No. 12 USA Today/No. 13 AP Oregon State (7-1, 5-1 in Pac-12) plays its final regular season road game of the year when it travels to No. 14 BCS/No. 15 USA Today/No. 16 AP Stanford (7-2, 5-1) at Noon in a game being televised live by FOX. The approximate Noon kick comes after the Beavers played a school record three consecutive night games, including last Saturday’s 7:41 kickoff vs. Arizona State.
THE RANKINGS: The Beavers appear in the Associated Press top-25 rankings for the seventh consecutive week, escalating to as high as No. 7 the week of Oct. 22. A win Saturday would keep OSU in the top 25 for eight consecutive weeks (polls) for the first time since the 2000 season. OSU was last as high as No. 13 in the AP rankings the week of the Dec. 3, 2009 Civil War when the then No. 13 Beavers traveled to Oregon.
RESER RECORD? The Oregon State record for home attendance average of 45,509 in 2010 is in jeopardy of falling this year. The Beavers are currently averaging 45,129 with two or three games (depending on reschedule of postponed season opener), which would mark the second-largest average for a season. The last three home games have been sellouts.
SERIES: Stanford has won the last two games and three of the previous four, including last season’s 38-13 win in Corvallis on Nov. 5. The Stanford defense held OSU to just 33 yards rushing on 17 carries a year ago, while the Cardinal offense had 300 yards on the ground and 507 total. Andrew Luck had three touchdown passes. Stanford beat the Beavers in 2010 38-0 which marked the first time OSU had been shut out in a league game since USC in 2002.
THE NATURAL STUFF: OSU has won three of its four road games heading into Saturday, all on natural grass (BYU, Arizona, UCLA). The Beavers last won four road games overall in the same season in 2009 (UNLV, Arizona State, WSU, Cal).
7-1: Seven victories in the first eight games is the best start for OSU with head coach Mike Riley at the helm. Since joining an official league (Pacific Coast Conference) for the 1925 season, OSU has had five other teams at 7-1 – 2000 (Dennis Erickson HC), 1964 (Tommy Prothro), 1939 (Lon Stiner), 1926 (Paul Schissler) and 1925 (Paul Schissler).
PLUS-4: As in wins from a season ago. Oregon State won three games all of last season, but already has seven this year. The four-win improvement is tied for the most at this point in the season in the FBS with Ohio State (currently 10, had 6 last year) and Middle Tennessee (6, 2).
BOWL ELIGIBILITY: Oregon State, Oregon, Stanford, USC and UCLA are bowl eligible from the Pac-12 Conference. For the Beavers it was the earliest time in school history when they earned their sixth win Oct. 20 over Utah. Courtesy of John Hunt of The Oregonian – “No team in the Pac-8/Pac-10/Pac-12 has had a record as bad as OSU did (3-9) and played in a bowl the following year.”
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Oregon State enters Saturday with the fifth-most difficult schedule in the nation as of Nov. 5 per the Sagarin Rankings in USA Today. The league as a whole ranks highly – 1. Washington; 3. Arizona; 5. OSU; 7. Utah; 12. Colorado; 13. WSU; 15. Cal; 25. USC; 28. ASU; 34. UCLA; 36. Stanford; 47. Oregon. The only other two out of league teams in the top five are Missouri (2) and Kansas (4). The Big Ten’s highest team is 23, the ACC’s is 30 and the Big East’s is 48.
TYPICALLY, IT STARTS NOW: The last two seasons have been an aberration for Mike Riley’s teams in the months of November and December. From 2003-2009 the Beavers posted a 29-13 record over the final two months (Nov. & Dec.) of the season and were generally considered one of the most successful teams in the nation during that span. OSU is 1-0 this season in that timeframe.
RILEY GETS RECORD: Beaver head coach Mike Riley became the school’s all-time leader for football victories when he notched his 75th (now 79) Sept. 29 at Arizona, passing Lon Stiner (1933-48). The 12th-year head coach has 52 league victories (the most by an active coach), 13th in the Pac-12 record book (UW’s Jim Owens 1957-74 is next on the list with 54). For more on Riley see his bio on page 4 in this week’s game notes.
SINGLE DIGITS: Oregon State has allowed nine or fewer points in three games this season, the most since achieving the same defensive feat in 2008 (Hawai’i, UCLA, Pitt). The last time a Beaver defense gave up nine or fewer points in more than three games was the 2000 Fiesta Bowl Season (San Diego State, Stanford, WSU, Arizona, Notre Dame). The Beavers’ three games of allowing nine or fewer points ranks tied for fourth in all of the FBS following the five games by Florida State (2 vs. FCS teams) and the four games by BYU and Alabama.
SCORING DEFENSE: Oregon State is second in the Pac-12 for scoring defense allowing 18.1 points, while Stanford is first at 16.6 points. Stanford has not allowed more than 20 points in any game, except 48 to Arizona in an overtime game. OSU has not allowed more than 26 points in a game, except 35 to Arizona.
TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME: Oregon State enters Saturday having put together scoring drives of 74-plus yards 20 times through the first eight games (the school record for the season is 23 in 2002), including nine of 80-plus yards. All of last season, the Beavers achieved scoring drives of 74-plus 13 times. Those long drives in combination with OSU’s third down defense has allowed the Beavers to rank 10th in the nation and tied with Utah for first in the Pac-12 for average time of possession at 32:44.
THIRD AND LONG: OSU enters Saturday’s game leading the Pac-12 and is second in the nation for third-down percentage defense, allowing 24.1 percent (27-112) –21.2 percent (17-80) in Pac-12 action only. Florida State at 23.1 percent (33-143) is the only other team that fares better on defense on third down and this week’s opponent Stanford is also among the nation’s leaders (15th) allowing 30.1 percent (44-142). Last season the Beavers ranked 104th for third down defense, allowing 47.4 percent. The Beaver defense is forcing an average of four three-and-outs per game.
CHALLEGING RUN GAME: It statistical trend holds, Saturday is going to be a difficult game for the running backs. Stanford is the nation’s leader against run allowing a meager 57.8 yards per game while the Beavers are fifth at 91.8 yards. In 2007, under the guidance of current defensive coordinator Mark Banker, OSU led the nation for the season for rush defense surrendering 70.6 yards per game. The Beavers run defense has been strongest in years they play multiple linemen – this year 10 have played to this point.
TURNOVERS DO MATTER: If that’s not an understatement in itself, the Pac-12 statistics confirm it. The top four teams in the league for overall standings are also the top four teams for turnover margin. Stanford leads the league at plus-11, followed by Oregon (+8), Oregon State (+7) and UCLA (+4).
RED ZONE SUCCESS: The Beavers enter Saturday second in the Pac-12 for red zone percentage at 83.3. percent (25-30). OSU converted 75 percent of the time in the zone last year which tied for last in the Pac-12 with UCLA and tied for 100th in the nation.
ALL-PURPOSE GUYS: The Pac-12 statistics rank the top 12 all-purpose runners (rush, rec., KR, PR) and the Beavers are the only team to have three of them. Brandin Cooks is sixth at 121.5 yards per game, Markus Wheaton is eighth at 112.1 and Storm Woods is 12th at 103.6.
INTERCEPTION: Oregon State has 14 interceptions for the season (11 last season), tied for eighth in the country. CB Jordan Poyer, one of 15 finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, has five of those 14 to rank tied for second in the NCAA behind the 7 of Fresno State’s Phillip Thomas. Poyer now ranks tied for ninth for career interceptions at OSU with 11. He was the Walter Camp Co-Player of the Week and the Jim Thorpe (nation’s top CB) Player of the Week for Oct. 8 after his three interceptions against Washington State.
100 x 3: Twice this season Oregon State has had a running back and two receivers hit the 100-yard-plus mark in the same game. Prior to this season the last time the Beavers had three players reach 100 yards in a game was Nov. 15, 2003 at home vs. Stanford (Steven Jackson 148 rush, Mike Hass 225 rec. and James Newson 115 rec.).
LOCKDOWN CORNERS: Part of Oregon State’s defensive strategy is based on its ability to put starting cornerbacks Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds in man-to-man coverage. The duo has responded with being among the national leaders for passes defended (breakups & interceptions). Reynolds ranks fifth in the nation averaging 1.75 passes defended per game while Poyer is tied for 21st at 1.3.
WHEATON STREAK: Senior wide receiver Markus Wheaton has quietly put together a 31-game streak of receptions; third in the Pac-12. Wheaton has 190 receptions, fourth for a career at OSU. He also has 2,537 yards receiving, fifth at OSU. The Civil War in November will match two of the fastest players in the country, based on results of a May 4, 2012 track meet in Eugene – in the 100 meters Wheaton placed second with a 10.58 and De’Anthony Thomas third at 10.65. For more on Wheaton’s career stats please turn to page 16 of this week’s game notes.
DYNAMIC DUO: One is the crafty veteran, fourth-year senior Markus Wheaton. The other is the upstart sophomore Brandin Cooks. Together they form one of the most dangerous receiving duos in the nation. Cooks is seventh in the nation with 113.3 yards receiving per contest while Wheaton is 13th at 98.4 – only West Virginia can match the Beavers with two players in the top 13. At their current pace they would become the first two Beavers to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving in the same season since James Newson (1,306) and Mike Hass (1,013) in 2003. Cooks on who is the fastest? “I have a quicker spurt, but Markus has a faster top end.”
AFTER THE CATCH: The Beaver quarterbacks have used two of their biggest playmakers to eat up yards after making the reception. Brandin Cooks has 405 yards following his receptions or an average of more than 50.6 yards per game. Markus Wheaton has 293 yards, an average of 36.6 yards per contest.
CRICHTON AMONG LEADERS: Sophomore defensive end Scott Crichton is second in the nation for sacks per game at 1.1. He now has 14 for his career, which already ranks tied for eighth in the OSU record book. With seven forced fumbles for his career, he ranks tied for second in OSU history. He was named to Mark Schlabach’s ESPN.com Midseason All-America team.
VAZ 3-0 AS A STARTER: Junior quarterback Cody Vaz, who was awarded one of the Manning Award’s Stars of the Week and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Oct. 15 for his performance in the team’s win at BYU (20-32, 332 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INT) took the place of Sean Mannion as the starting quarterback following Mannion’s knee injury diagnoses. In Vaz’s three starts he has passed for 773 yards, completing 50 of 91 attempts with six touchdowns and one interception – passing efficiency rating of 145.86. His 332 yards passing in his first start of his collegiate career at BYU was the most by a first-game starter at OSU since Matt Moore (now with the Dolphins) had 367 in the 2005 opener. He was 24-5 as a starter at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif., where he was named the Stockton Record Player of the Year following the ’08 season. He was one of 10 finalists for the Cal-Hi Sports.com Mr. Football State Player of the Year. In his final two seasons as the starting quarterback Vaz completed 473 of 721 pass attempts for 7,176 yards and 64 touchdowns.
IT’S ALL IN A NAME: Two Beavers have changed their last names during the season. Linebacker Feti ‘Unga switched to Feti Taumoepeau in honor of his mother Ofa before the year began and linebacker D.J. Welch changed his name to D.J. Alexander on Oct. 15 in honor of his stepfather Eugene.
“THE WORLD’S LONGEST TRAINING CAMP” Oregon State began official preparations for the 2012 season., Mon., Aug. 6 in anticipation of a Sept. 1 contest against Nicholls State at Reser Stadium; Hurricane Isaac forced the game to be moved to Dec. 1 (providing OSU is not in the Pac-12 title game or NSU is not in the FCS playoffs) as NSU was unable to leave campus which meant the Beavers began the year Sept. 8 vs. Wisconsin. OSU practiced 35 times before its first game and 44 times with just one game; thus “the world’s longest training camp” per Mike Riley. If the game vs. Nicholls State on Dec. 1 is played, the Beavers and Alabama would be the only teams in all of the FBS that play the final three games of the schedule at home.
BALANCE IS THE KEY: OSU head coach Mike Riley continues to strive for balance on offense between the rush and the pass, and it’s historically when OSU has had its best seasons under the head coach. This year the Beavers are near the 50/50 mark averaging 34 rushes per game and 38 pass attempts. Last year the average was 27 and 42 respectively and thus the Beavers ranked 118th (out of 120) for rushing offense at 86.9 yards per game, and while the improvement is modest it is still improvement to 114.6 yards per outing to this point in the season.
RILEY’S RIGHT-HAND GUYS: Oregon State has been fairly stable in terms of assistant coaches, particularly at the coordinator positions. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker has been on the staff since 2003 in his current role (served 1997-98 seasons as secondary coach) and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf has been in his role since 2004 (was a G.A. for TE in 1997-98). Banker was also with Riley for the 1999-2001 seasons with the Chargers (Def. Coord.) and in 1996 at USC. Langsdorf was with the Saints with Riley for the 2002 season.
7-GAME HOME SCHEDULE: 2012 features seven home games, if the Sept. 1 Nicholls State game is played, for the first time since the 2006 season. The Beavers also played 7-game slates in 2002 and ’03 and generally that has been a positive as OSU went 17-4 at Reser Stadium during those years.
PAC-12 THIS CENTURY: USC owns the most victories in the Pac-12 Conference this century with 124 (105 with vacated wins), followed by Oregon (119), OSU (94), Cal (85), UCLA (84), Arizona State (82), Stanford (76), Washington (68), WSU (65), Arizona (64). Utah has 108 victories this century and Colorado has 67.
NEW COACH: Rod Perry has joined the OSU coaching staff as a full-time secondary coach after 22 seasons in the NFL, most recently with the Indianapolis Colts. Perry was an assistant with Beaver head coach Mike Riley in San Diego with the Chargers. His sons Rodney and Ryan are coaching interns on the team.
WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE, WIN THE GAME: Over the last 107 games, Oregon State is 41-8 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent, 11-30 when committing more and 10-7 when even. The Beavers struggled in 2011, losing 31 turnovers (T113th in NCAA) and finished tied for 100th in the NCAA in turnover margin.
RESER RECORD: Oregon State’s home record of 57-20 this century at Reser Stadium is third best in the Pac-12 Conference, trailing the home records of only Oregon (68-13) and USC (63-14).
69-7: That’s the record of Oregon State when it leads after three quarters with Mike Riley as head coach. Since the start of the 2004 season it is 51-3.
100-PLUS USUALLY A W: When a Beaver rushes for 100-plus yards it usually equals a victory. OSU has won 26 of its last 30 games (87%) when a rusher gains 100 – the only four losses in that period – Oct. 2, 2008 at Utah (Jacquizz Rodgers 101 yds), Oct. 24, 2009 at USC (Jacquizz 113), Oct. 16, 2010 at Washington (Jacquizz 140) and Sept. 3, 2011 vs. Sacramento State (Malcolm Agnew 223).
WOODCHIPS: Mike Riley treated the entire traveling party for the UCLA, Arizona and BYU games to In-N-Out Burgers immediately following each victory – buses made detours from stadium to airports to the most centrally located restaurant … OSU has won six straight games in Tucson … Oregon State is celebrating the 60th birthday of its mascot – Benny Beaver … the team has won more games this season than it did all of last year (3-9) … the last time OSU won its first four conference games of the season was 1968, the first year of the Pac-8 Conference … Mike Riley coached two current NFL head coaches; Jim Harbaugh (Chargers) and Jason Garrett (San Antonio Riders) … … the team played a school record three consecutive night games (Utah, UW, ASU) … freshmen OL David Keller and LS Harrison Linsky joined the program during the bye week. Due to NCAA regulations, Keller will sit out the 2012 season after transferring from Fresno State. Linsky has been cleared to participate this year.