OSU is heavily favored against the Bengals, a FCS program. But as any Beaver fans know, no game is a given (cough… Sacramento State… cough). Here are five things the Beavers need to do to walk out of Reser Stadium winners.
1. Start strong, finish strong. There’s no reason the Beavers shouldn’t run away with this one, but in order to do that, they need to strike first, keep at it, wear the Bengals down, and leave no doubt. A squeak-it-out win should be considered a major disappointment, and heaven forbid, if you know what happens. That said, I think OSU has a good chance of resting starters by mid-third quarter.
2. Commit to the run, and don’t stop until it’s established. Let’s face it, OSU offensive line struggled against Minnesota’s tough, physical defense. This time around, it should be the Idaho State defensive line that gets pushed around, or should I say overwhelmed. So, the Beavers need to get the running game going and stick with it until they wear down the Bengals, resulting in easy pass opportunites.
3. Force at least three turnovers. Defensively, the Beavers were pretty solid against Minnesota, but if they want to make strides this season, they have to create more turnovers. Enter the Bengals who were held to only 96 yards offense last week by Colorado. If OSU can get pressure on the QB, they should be able to get some takeaways. And a few sacks would be nice too.
4. Improved communication within the O-Line. Speaking of the offensive line . . . While they should have an easier time handling Idaho State’s front 7, they also need to work on protecting Darrell Garretson better. He got absolutely rocked a few times last time out. To do that, the lineman must improve their communication and chemistry. This game will be a good step toward that, ahead of Boise State.
5. Don’t play to the level of the opponent. This ties into starting off fast and not looking back. The Beavers need to assert themselves early on, so they don’t need to tinker and be cute. They need to use their size and skill and overwhelm the Bengals. If they come out sluggish and take awhile to get going, it could be a much closer affair. Beaver fans certainly don’t want another 2000 Eastern Washington game.
Honestly, if the Beavers only hit three of these marks, they should still beat Idaho State, maybe not as handily as Colorado did, but soundly. This game provides them an excellent opportunity to improve on their “oh-so-close” battle against Minnesota — whether it’s on the offensive line, more consistency from the receivers, etc. They have plenty to work on and refine before their matchup with Boise State. So, amidst what is hopefully a blowout, look for genuine signs of growth for the Beavers.