As I talked about briefly yesterday, a win over Portland State absolutely has to happen. Oregon State has to take the Portland State game as seriously as they can because there can be no more FCS losses in the Mike Riley Era.
After that win, which as I said is necessary, the Beavers have to travel to Hawaii to take on the Rainbow Warriors. Or as I like to call it, the distraction bowl. Playing in paradise, no matter how good or bad the Hawaii team is, is never easy. While it will still be reasonably nice in Corvallis (maybe) when the Beavers board the plane to Honolulu, they will arrive in perfection, surrounded by beaches, by blue sky, by 70 degree weather and an island of smiling beauty. For many Beaver players it will also be a return home to many Beaver players for the one game their whole family can come watch.
Hawaii has not been good recently. They had a good run defense last year and are playing hard, but they just don’t have the horses to compete yet. Regardless, Oregon State will walk on to a field filled with debris and raucous home field fans and take on a team who will have all the islands, and probably the refs, pulling for them.
In other words, anything can happen.
This is a game that the Beavers have to win. They have to start out 2-0. It is not about the opponents or how good they are, it is all about the Beavers. Every year there is a game or two that is a head scratching loss. Utah and Stanford in 2008, Cincinnati and the Civil War in 2009, WSU and Cal in 2010, Sacramento State and Utah in 2011, Stanford and Texas in 2012, Eastern Washington, Stanford, UW, USC and the ducks in 2013. Oregon State needs to win and win big in the first two games.
They need to win these games because that is what Champions do. They practice, train and perform and play against themselves. They go out and dominate whoever is there and play to the best of their abilities if it is USC or EWU. And it is not the players, it is also the coaches. They take nothing for granted and assume everyone is capable of beating them. And they believe it.
Since 2003, Oregon State has started 2-0 just 3 times, and they have started 3-0 only once, in 2012. A convincing 2-0 means that when San Diego State comes to town, you have a full house. Every year requires this approach. Every game is winnable, every game is losable and you take no one lightly. You practice because you need to do better than you did last time, not because of your opponent.
Hawaii should be treated the same way as the best team on the schedule. If that happens, and the Beavers can go into every week with that feeling, there will be no let downs, there will be no weird loss. Then, maybe, the best team week by week on the Beavers’ schedule will be them.