Editor’s Note: For each game this season, we are identifying a player and position group that could be X-factor for the Beavers in that game. We claim no responsibility for jinxing any players.
RS Sophomore, Running Back
Vitals: 6-2, 234 pounds
Last game: Ran for 71 yards on 13 carries, for an average of 5.5 yards per carry. His longest run was 40 yards. Also caught eight passes for 80 yards, both of which were game highs.
Season stats: Same as above.
Why he’s the X-factor: This game should be over by mid-third quarter if not earlier. And Nall could and should be the catalyst for a blowout victory for the Beavers. Gaining yards and establishing himself early on against the Bengals should not be an issue — and will open things up for Darell Garretson through the air. I’d like to see Nall with a line similar to his in the 2015 Civil War (174 yards and 1 TD) by halftime. A dominant Nall from the get-go should pave the way for an OSU win.
Garretson still should be able to move the ball against Idaho State. However, it will be a little tougher, and without a consistent running game. Without Nall carrying for strong gains and chewing up clock, the Bengals could put up more of a fight. They return just about everyone, including several standouts on offense. Regardless of the divisional and talent differences, the Beavers do not want to get into a shootout with the Bengals. Big question, how healthy will Nall be?
Position Group X-Factor
Last game: Starters combined for 24 tackles and one tackle for loss.
Why they’re the X-factor:
The OSU defensive line should have a much easier go of it against Idaho State’s offensive line than it did Minnesota, hopefully. As a result, there should be more space for the linebackers to hit the gaps and get into the backfield for tackles for losses — and of course, a sack or three. If the LBs are unable to create a lot of pressure, Saturday’s game could be much closer than it should be…
That said, look for this unit to shine against the Bengals. Here’s why: Against Colorado, a team not known for its defense in recent years, Idaho State gained a paltry 96 yards of total offense. Yes, that’s not a typo. The Bengals were held to 1.7 yards a play, and somehow had seven first downs. So, this should be an excellent opportunity for the Beavers to be aggressive, take some chances, and build up some momentum (and swagger) for their September 24 home date against Boise State.
If Ryan Nall has a big game, and the linebackers can wreak havoc and create turnovers, the Beavers should win this game easily, and Blitzers have got to feel good about all three of these things happening at Reser this weekend. That said, who are your X-factors?