On the way to reversing this season, possibly, and even starting to think of reaching six wins and becoming bowl eligible... The problem will be that OSU has already lost two games, and at home, that could have put the Beavers in a much better position, possibly even with a winning record. OSU hosts BYU at 1 p.m. (TV: FCS) on Saturday.
--The last time OSU played BYU was in the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl, with the Cougars posting a 44-20 victory. This will be only the 10th meeting between the two teams, with the next matchup in Provo next season. OSU coach Mike Riley termed it "a natural" to be playing BYU, as a quality opponent without too much travel involved in the game.
--OSU MLB Feti Unga is the twin brother of BYU LB Uani Unga, who is redshirting after transferring from OSU after last season. They are the cousins of Harvey Unga, the career rushing leader at BYU.
OSU has forced four turnovers in each of the past two games. The eight total takeaways for the Beavers are the most in a two-game stretch since 2005, and have resulted in 33 points for OSU.
--OSU had two Pac-12 Players of the Week chosen for their performances in the win over Arizona: S Lance Mitchell on defense and Clayton York for special teams. Mitchell had an interception and a fumble recovery in addition to seven tackles, and he also had a 13-yard reception to convert a fake punt into a first down. York blocked a punt and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown.
SERIES HISTORY: Oregon State leads 5-4.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Beavers still haven't settled on a running back, but at least the running game has shown recent signs of life with 128 yards against Arizona, with 99 of those courtesy of Jovan Stevenson. That made the difference, the Beavers think, in improved efficiency in the red zone because of the threat of the run prevents opposing defenses from gearing up against the pass.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Beavers have been getting big plays from a pair of freshmen defensive ends, Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn. Crichton leads the Pac-12 in tackles for lost yardage with eight. With that kind of play on the outside, it has forced opponents to adjust their blocking schemes, which has allowed more freedom for the linebackers.
"This team just needs to practice this week and get ready to play the game," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "There's no sense about looking back too much or having regrets about what might have been or making plans about the future."
OSU knows the task immediately ahead of it in BYU, which two years ago physically dominated the Beavers in a 44-20 victory in the Las Vegas Bowl. This game will be in Corvallis, but Riley said he sees quite a few similarities in schemes and playing styles for the Cougars, who are 4-2 while playing as an independent this season.
"There's a lot of stuff we'll have to be prepared for," Riley said. "I hope we can keep getting better, the little bit I've seen of BYU, we'll have to."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL -- THIS WEEK'S GAME: BYU at Oregon State, Oct. 15
The Beavers step out of Pac-12 action for a final non-conference game, but it doesn't change one thing: OSU needs wins to salvage this season. The Beavers say they see similarities in playing style to the BYU team that beat OSU 44-20 two years ago in the Las Vegas Bowl, but the playing personnel has greatly changed for both teams.
KEYS TO THE GAME: How do the Beavers handle defending against a mobile quarterback? After two opposing quarterbacks who stayed in the pocket, OSU will have to control a BYU quarterback with good running ability.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
C Grant Johnson -- There is always pressure on the center to make the correct blocking calls for the linemen and make good snaps, but that increases against BYU, which uses a 3-4 defense and puts a large nose tackle right over the center. That means Johnson will have to handle his usual assignments and then take on 321-pound Romney Fuga, the BYU nose tackle.
TE Joe Halahuni -- Freshman quarterback Sean Mannion is learning to use his tight ends more, and they combined for six receptions in the win over Arizona. Two of those were touchdown catches by Halahuni. That kind of production would give the BYU defense more to think about after OSU had only one reception by a tight end two years ago in the Las Vegas Bowl against BYU.
DE Scott Crichton -- The redshirt freshman leads the Pac-12 in tackles for lost yardage with eight, and he figures to have an active day against BYU, which not only runs the ball well but has a mobile quarterback who often runs by designed play. Crichton has become a force on the OSU defense, and even without a sack against Arizona, he forced an interception with a hit on the quarterback.
--The Beavers will be watching the health of RBs Jovan Stevenson and Malcolm Agnew to determine a starter against BYU. Stevenson came in after Terron Ward fumbled, and proceeded to make a bid, for the second week in a row, for the first-string berth. Against UA, he had a career-high 99 yards against Arizona, but the sophomore came out of that game with concussion-like symptoms and was being tested early in the week to determine if he's recovered. Agnew has been out since the opening game, injuring and then aggravating a hamstring muscle. He'll need to prove his health to trainers, and his abilities to coaches before he is put back in a game.
--DL Dominic Glover continues to practice but doesn't seem likely to be used in games. OSU coach Mike Riley said "our goal now is to get him his degree," which he's scheduled to complete in the spring.
Can season turnaround continue with BYU win?
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