INSIDE SLANT: UW vs. Oregon State

OREGON STATE IS searching hard for another win, and finding a way to run the football with success. The Beavers close out their home schedule with Saturday's game against UW, and there it seems perhaps that unless the OSU offense presents some kind of a viable threat as a running team, winning will remain elusive. Then again, the UW pass defense has proved vulnerable indeed this season.

Still, in three consecutive losses, the Beavers (2-8, 2-5) have rushed for 32, 33 and 27 yards.

"Even though it's late in the year and we have been unproductive (running the football), we're not going to stop trying to do that," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "If we are to win, then we're going to find more balance than we've had."

Freshman quarterback Sean Mannion is 306 yards from becoming only the seventh OSU quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. But without an effective running game, teams have increased the pressure on Mannion, who has been sacked 11 times in the past three games and often hurried into incompletions.

It adds up to the Beavers being 11-of-38 on third-down conversions in the past three games, and only 4-of-7 on scoring in the red zone over that span of games. Those are statistics that lead to defeats, and that's not going to end without a better running game.

--James Rodgers should become OSU's leading career receiver on Saturday against Washington. He needs three receptions to surpass the record of 220 held by Mike Hass. Rodgers is also two touchdowns from matching the OSU record in that category.

--OSU CB Jordan Poyer leads the Pac-12 and is second in the nation in passes defended with 15. The OSU record is 19, by Andrae Holland in 1998.

--OSU opponents have been awarded 27 first downs due to penalties on the Beavers, the most given up that way by any team in the nation. OSU ranks 117th in the nation in penalty yards, losing 69.4 yards per game.

SERIES HISTORY: Washington leads the series 58-33-4.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Beavers don't go up against a defense as stout as what they've faced in recent weeks, but it may still require some balance to keep the Huskies honest in their approach. Otherwise, the UW defense can turn loose the blitz on OSU QB Sean Mannion, who has been tackled for lost yardage 11 times in the past three games.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Beavers aren't sure whether they'll be up against Keith Price or Nick Montana at quarterback, but they expect the same kind of offense either way, and it figures the primary challenge will be stopping Huskies RB Chris Polk. The Beavers haven't had much success against lesser talents. All indications point to Montana, who for the third straight practice on Wednesday took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense while the injured Price watched.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Washington at Oregon State, Nov. 19 -- The Beavers play their home finale, with 17 seniors honored for their final home game. OSU can use all the motivation it can find as the school's most dismal season in 15 years winds to a close.

CRUCIAL TO THE GAME: Can the Beavs run the football and can they stop the opponent's run game? Or, can Mannion find his targets quicker and let his playmakers do the damage against a secondary that's struggled. The Huskies haven't been bad against the run, and they've shown they can run well.

MLB Feti Unga -- He was the team's leading tackler prior to his knee injury, and then returned for a test of his knee against Cal. The assumption is that he'll start against Washington, and he should be busy defending against the runs of Chris Polk.

TE Joe Halahuni -- OSU's bid to beat the Huskies ended in overtime last season, when Halahuni couldn't hold onto a pass thrown low in the end zone on a two-point conversion attempt. His incentive should be there for this game.

DE Scott Crichton -- The OSU freshman acknowledged that he had a goal growing up of playing for the Huskies, but Washington never offered him a scholarship. "I hope they regret that," Crichton said as he previewed his first game against the Huskies.

--S Josh LaGrone played for the first time against California. During the summer, LaGrone decided to give up the sport as he struggled with his rehabilitation from a knee injury. After receiving a different medical opinion, he returned to playing earlier this season and has now worked his way into playing time.

--DE Taylor Henry, who began the season as a starter, has chosen to leave the program for undisclosed personal reasons. Henry has a year of eligibility remaining, and OSU coach Mike Riley said he would be open to discussing a possible return to the program if Henry has second thoughts on giving up football.

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