What: Oregon State (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) at Colorado (2-3, 0-2)
When: 1 p.m., (Pacific Time) Saturday, Oct. 4
Where: Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado
TV: Pac-12 Network
Series Record: 4-2, OSU. Behind a school record 6 touchdown passes by Sean Mannion, the Beavers crushed Colorado, 44-17, last season in Corvallis. Brandin Cooks had 168 yards receiving and two TDs, while Terron Ward had 103 receiving yards. The last time OSU played in Boulder (1988), it lost to the Buffaloes, 28-21.
Notes: Colorado is coming off a heartbreaking, 2-overtime loss to California last week, 49-46. Quarterback Sefo Liufau completed 46-of-67 passes for 449 yards and a school-record 7 touchdowns. He also was the Buffaloes’ leading rusher with 72 yards on 10 carries. His top receiver, Nelson Spruce, also broke a team record with 19 catches for 179 yards and 3 scores. OSU secondary coach Rod Perry played for Colorado from 1973-74, where he earned all-conference and honorable all-American honors his senior season.
5 Keys to Victory
Stop Spruce: Nelson Spruce has emerged as the top receiver in the Pac-12, and one of the best in the nation. Through five games, he has 10 touchdowns! The Beavers held USC standout Nelson Agholor to 3 catches and 28 yards last weekend; they’ll need that kind of effort against Spruce. If he gets loose, it could be a long day for OSU.
Stay Rested: As much as it pains me to say (it sounds like an excuse), playing at a higher elevation could pose a challenge for the Beavers. So it’s important that coaches rotate players in and out as needed. Unfortunately, due to injuries the Beavers depth, especially on defense, has been weakened.
Be Consistent Offensively: It’s no secret the Beavers abandoned the run game, which was very effective last weekend against USC. Whether it’s the run game again or the passing game, the Beavers need to stick with what works for them. Trying to be too cute and force things could backfire. Colorado isn’t USC, but it might not be the pushover it was in recent years.
Establish the Run Game: OSU should be able to move the ball easier against Colorado than USC. But the Beavers should attack the Buffaloes early on the same way they did the Trojans: on the ground. This will help Mannion recover his rhythm after last weekend, and hopefully spur him to another dominating performance against Colorado.
Keep Eyes on Liufau: The sophomore quarterback made headlines last week with his arms, but don’t be fooled, Liufau is a dual-threat playmaker. He averaged more than 7 yards per carry against Cal, including a 39-yard run. We all know how much the Beavers have struggled against QBs who can run well — so they need to watch out when the pocket breaks down for Liufau. They need to hit him hard and force him to be one dimensional.
Game prediction: 38-21, Beavers.
Can the Beavers rebound from the tough loss to USC?