Except Riley does have "veto power" over the choice of opponents, OSU director of athletics Bob De Carolis said.
So why do it? Riley sees it as good preparation for the Pac-10 schedule, and the opportunity to draw national attention to his program. Sometimes that hasn't been good, as in the loss at Penn State two years ago, but sometimes even a defeat has earned plaudits for the Beavers, as it did with a 2004 loss at LSU and this season's defeat to TCU at Cowboys Stadium.
The Beavers will be making their third trip to Bronco Stadium, where they've lost each previous meeting. But they then won rematches the following year against the Broncos in Corvallis.
"We like the challenge," De Carolis said of the aggressive scheduling. "We're not afraid to play anybody."
In preparation for playing on the blue artificial turf of Bronco Stadium, OSU had one of its grass practice fields painted a similar blue. The problem is the Beavers also want to simulate extra noise, so they had to split practice times between Reser Stadium, with piped in noise, and the blue field, out in the open.
It's a rare game for the Beavers, playing a nonconference opponent ranked as high as Boise State at No. 3. The last time OSU defeated a top three opponent in a non-conference game was a 22-14 victory at Purdue in 1967. Since then, the Beavers have played four non-conference foes ranked third or higher, and beaten none of them.
The one offensive statistic that stands out as a positive for OSU is red zone production. In five trips this season inside of an opponent's 20-yard line, the Beavers have produced five touchdowns. The Beavers led the nation last season by scoring on their red zone possessions 96 percent of the time, but only 73 percent of the time did they score a touchdown.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Quizz Rodgers finally had his 100-yard rushing game against Louisville, but will he find many openings against Boise State? The Broncos have held two opponents to a net of 107 rushing yards, which is 53.5 yards on average and an average of 1.5 yards per running play. The Beavers obviously need a better performance than that, but to achieve that balance it will take a better passing game than they've shown in the first two games.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Beavers have struggled against a pair of mobile quarterbacks in their opener, and have only two quarterback sacks. Boise State's Kellen Moore isn't a quarterback who runs often, but he's nifty at avoiding pressure in the pocket and picks apart secondaries if given ample time to throw. Unless the OSU front four steps up its play, it's likely to be a long day for the secondary.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Both teams deserve it. What we're trying to prevent this week is them playing each other in the national championship game." — OSU coach Mike Riley, on the rankings of TCU and Boise State, the team the Beavers opened the season against and this week's opponent.
|STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL|
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Oregon State at Boise State, Sept. 25 — The Beavers (1-1) are the visitors for a big weekend in Boise, with the Broncos (2-0) playing their home opener for a national telecast by ABC, the first time the network has shown a Boise State game. The ESPN GameDay show is also on hand, adding to the spectacle. The Beavers thought they were in the spotlight for their opener against TCU at Cowboys Stadium but it can't compare to this.
KEYS TO THE GAME: OSU will need to not only combat a very good football team, but blunt the heavy dose of emotion that will be present. In two previous trips to Broncos Stadium, OSU teams took early leads but once the momentum turned, the Beavers couldn't stop the onslaught.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Ryan Katz — After two games, the OSU sophomore ranks 10th in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency, and has completed only 47 percent of his passes. He's obviously going to have to step up his performance because Boise State typically makes an extra effort at stopping the running game. Katz and his receivers will have to make the Broncos pay for that.
LT Michael Philipp — Assuming the sophomore starts again this week after regaining his starting role, he and right tackle Mike Remmers figure to have a big task when they block Boise State end Ryan Winterswyk. The Boise State senior is fifth in school history in tackles for loss, and leads a front four that brings heavy pressure on quarterbacks.
TE Joe Halahuni — Boise State's emphasis on stopping the running game brings the safeties up closer to the line of scrimmage and leaves the cornerbacks playing a lot of single coverage. The openings might be in the middle of the field, if run fakes freeze the safeties and Halahuni gets off the line of scrimmage.
The Beavers had a flu bug run through the team in the past week, but they seem to be over it. But a couple of days without normal intake of food and beverages can take its toll on a football player. And who's to say more players don't yet become ill.
Through two games, the Beavers have played only one true freshman, linebacker Michael Doctor. That's a definite contrast to last season when eight true freshmen saw action. OSU hasn't ruled out a couple more seeing action this season, depending on how injuries impact a particular position.
The change at left tackle, with Michael Philipp taking over for Wilder McAndrews, appears to extend into this week's game at Boise State. McAndrews started the opener but then came down with the flu in the days before the second game and Philipp, the starter last season as a true freshman, moved back onto the first unit. Philipp played well enough that he's likely to stay in the starting role.