The first final thought has to be “Finally!”
Oregon State finally will play a game at Reser. The combination of an early, Thursday first game, which was on the road, and a second week bye, has left the Beavers as far out of the college football picture as possible. This while we had the best opening weekend in college football ever, as far as “big” games that garner national attention goes. And then a second weekend that was initially panned, but still produced a number of close, exciting, and sometimes controversial finishes. And some other meaningful/informative games, nationally as well as locally.
It’s one reason why I’m not a fan of weeknight games, as a team gets forgotten about as the weekend unfolds. Follow that with this year’s early bye, on the opening weekend of the NFL season, and it’s hard to find anyone, even football fans in Corvallis, who has the Beavers even on the page of topics of even passing thought, never mind conversation.
Even Coach Gary Andersen admitted he spent all of last Saturday watching college football. And other college football teams.
That’s about to change though, as Oregon State starts a run of 11 consecutive Saturdays of football. It’s been since 2012 that the Beavers have played 11 straight weeks.
The beginning of this run will be the easiest, taking on an Idaho State team that’s just lost to Colorado 56-7. And it wasn’t that close.
Contests against FCS schools from the Big-Sky have a growing track record for being challenging, and dangerous to Pac-12 teams. Beaver fans who have somehow successfully blocked out memories of Sacramento St. and Eastern Washington need only ask a Coug about it to refresh their memory.
But realistically, there is no reason this game against the Bengals will be an addendum to the list, brought up only to be something to talk about in addition to Andersen’s connection, having been the defensive line assistant coach in Pocatello in 1992 & 1993.
However, there’s also no reason to get very excited about anything good that comes out of today’s game, as far as inferring any implication on outcomes in the weeks to come.
Oregon State in their most recent incarnations have struggled offensively against decent defenses, and had their defense wear down against anything resembling an effective offense. Idaho State is neither.
The Bengals won their opener, beating Simon Fraser 47-3, rolling up 543 yards of total offense in the process. But the Clan is a Division II team from the GNAC, and not a very good one (contrast with Western Oregon or Central Washington, who actually might be able to hang with some Big Sky squads). Simon Fraser has not won a game since the middle of the 2014 season.
Two lopsided early wins suggests Colorado is an improved team, but most Beaver fans are pretty familiar with the Buffs, a team Oregon State has played closely the last 2 years. As much as any team, comparable stats involving Colorado should actually be relatively comparable when analyzing how Oregon State might fare against a common opponent.
Last week in Boulder, Idaho State only accumulated 96 yards of total offense, and only ran for 35 yards. Colorado came up only 3 yards short of a 600 yard afternoon.
Sefo Liufau completed 15 of 18 passes, for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns, and ran for a game high 54 yards, and another score, before handing the ball over to others, who threw for another 131 yards. 6 other Buffs (not including Ralphie) romped for 208 additional yards.
And the Bengals are coming off a 2-9 season (though they were 8-4 in 2014). Idaho St. has lost their last 25 games against FBS opponents.
This is a classic “get well” game.
Ryan Nall should approach 100 yards rushing, and if he comes up short, it should only be because Art Pierce or Tim Cook have also had a big day.
Victor Bolden should have a big day that gets him back in good graces with skeptical fans, and Jordan Villamin should make more than a cameo appearance. We should also see a big day by Seth Collins, and we should actually see Trevon Bradford.
We might even see a quarterback sack. By the Beavers.
The final score might not approach the 61-10 Oregon State victory in 2007, the only other meeting in football between the schools, but it should come close.
Today’s game will be played in comfortable if dampish fall weather, and should be a fan fest, augmented by the unveiling to Beaver fans of the new “Terrace” & end-zone seats on the remodeled Valley Football Center end of the stadium, which will include a new team entrance, a new “tunnel formation” by the band, and orange smoke.
Decent conditions for pre and post game tailgating will prevail, and in stadium this should be a game-long party, and Oregon State finally is a part of the college football scene again, at least peripherally.
My other thought is to enjoy it while we can. Everything changes in a week, when another somewhat more challenging team from Idaho stampedes into town. When the Boise State Broncos arrive, things get serious.
But today is a day to celebrate and cheer for the Beavers!
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)