HERE'S THE DEAL: The only thing worse than losing a high-profile opener is getting an off-week following it. Oregon State has had two long weeks to brood about getting handled by TCU in Arlington, 30-21, in a game that was more one-sided than the score indicated.
The Beavers know a little something about rebounding from slow starts under Mike Riley, which is exactly what they plan to do beginning with this Saturday's first home game.
Louisville handed first-year head coach Charlie Strong his first career victory, through struggling with Eastern Kentucky, 23-13, was hardly a reason to break out the champagne. The Cardinals are a work-in-progress, with the goals of becoming more competitive and fine-tuning their overall execution as the season unfolds.
WHY LOUISVILLE MIGHT WIN: Through the first two weeks, Strong has done a commendable job of coaching up the defense, his forte. The Cardinals are hitting a little harder and missing fewer tackles. The result has been a more aggressive unit that's given up just a total of 36 points.
Louisville had eight sacks on Saturday, led by four from DE Rodney Gnat, and will aim to rattle untested Beaver QB Ryan Katz the TCU did in the opener. The staff believes that CB Johnny Patrick is good enough to take the other team's best receiver out of the game.
WHY OREGON STATE MIGHT WIN: While the Louisville defense has been feisty, the offense has been feeble. Even against an average FCS team, it was 2-of-10 on third downs and was shut out in three of four quarters. The ground game, its best chance to move the ball, is going to run head first into DT Stephen Paea and the Beaver front seven.
Having already handled TCU QB Andy Dalton, don't expect Adam Froman to have much success against the Oregon State secondary. As feisty as the Cards have been, it's also prone to get blown off the ball, which will allow Jacquizz and James Rodgers to get to the second level untouched.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Beaver QB Ryan Katz had a predictably tough time versus the Horned Frog D, but the staff loves his arm and upside. Sure, he was 9-of-25, but also threw two touchdown passes and didn't commit a turnover.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: A trip to Corvallis is a tough spot for Louisville and Strong. Oregon State is well-rested and eager to get back on track after beginning the season with a loss. As they often do, the Beavers will play inspired at Reser Stadium, keeping the Cardinal offense quiet and jumping out to a quick lead behind James and Jacquizz.
Katz will show the biggest growth from Week 1, looking much more like the future under center for the program.
CFN PREDICTION: Oregon State 44 … Louisville 16 … Line: Oregon State -18.5
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