WEEK 3: Let's talk Beavers vs. Utes

IT'S HARD TO put enough emphasis on this coming game for Oregon State. They go on the road for the first time this season -- and open Pac-12 play. The Beavs lost three starters to injury at two positions they could least afford to. A record of 2-1 for the Beavs will look and feel a whole lot different than would 1-2. Meanwhile, Utah will come in undefeated and feeling good about themselves.

With RT Grant Enger (knee) and RG Roman Sapolu (foot) out for Saturday, Utah may not have to put as much effort into stopping the OSU run, which wasn't making much noise before the injuries.

Indeed, Utah may be able to get all the run-stopping and pass pressure they need by only rushing four.

The Utes have already recorded nine sacks this season in two games, albeit against teams considered lesser competition than Oregon State (Weber State and Utah State.)

But if Utah can drop five underneath with a couple safeties over the top, they might be able to blunt the one thing Oregon State has done exceedingly well the first two games -- pass the ball.

This week is gut-check time for the Beaver players and coaches. And Saturday could tell us an awful lot about where this team is headed in 2013.

Vegas is off the Beaver bandwagon.

After installing OSU as 28- and 27-point favorites in their first two games, the table have turned. OSU opened as a 3-point favorite as the visiting team. After the injuries were reported, the line has since changed.

Oregon State at last check is now a 2.5-3 point underdog at Utah.

Utah looks improved offensively from last year when OSU had four takeaways and held the Utes to only 3-of-16 third down conversions in a 21-7 Beaver win.

On Saturday, QB Travis Wilson threw for 264 yards against Weber State with had five plays of 20 yards or more.

But it's also hard to take much away from Utah's 70-7 drubbing this past Saturday over their FCS opponent. The Utah-Utah State opener, a 30-26 win by the Utes, offers more insight, although not a whole lot more.

Wilson can run, and that's something OSU had trouble with against EWU. And Michael Doctor is now out 6-8 weeks, leaving OSU's starting linebacking corps with SAM Caleb Saulo, MIK Joel Skotte and WIL Jabral Johnson.

It's possible starting WIL D.J. Alexander might be ready to return this week but perhaps a more likely return date would be Week 4.

On the flip side, Utah lost perhaps their biggest deep threat when receiver Kenneth Scott suffered a season-ending leg injury against Utah State.

Right now, the storyline being proffered is that Kyle Whittingham bringing in former OSU coach Dennis Erickson as co-offensive coordinator has worked wonders for Wilson.

And also take into account that Whittingham said post-game he wanted Wilson to even get a few more runs in on Saturday.

But Utah has also lost its first four conference games in each of the past two seasons since moving to the Pac-12.

Get all the errands out of the way on Saturday morning and afternoon. It's a 7 p.m. start on Fox Sports 1 for the Beavs at Utah.

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