Beavers Set to Crack Top 25

The last time the Beavers were printed in the Associated Press (AP) poll was not too long ago. To have considered the Beavs in the polls before Mike Riley arrived in 1997 would have been ludicrous. Yet, these days are different. Right now, Oregon State is on the cusp of cracking the AP Top 25 and with a win in the Valley, in front of a rowdy Bulldog crowd, expect the Beavers to jolt into the top 25 and stay there for awhile.

Currently the Beavs sit in the 26th spot in the AP poll behind a TCU team that barely squeaked out a win against Tulane last week. In the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll the men in black sit behind a 25th ranked Penn State squad, followed by Washington, Maryland, and TCU respectively.

In order for the Beavers to make the climb into the nation’s elite, a team above them must lose or the Beavers can play leap frog by an impressive showing at Fresno where they might push ahead of a number of schools.

Help from Tyler Ebell and the Bruins Saturday could boast the Beavers into the top 25.

There are a few possibilities for the Beavers making this once unprecedented bound. One is for fellow Pac-10 team, UCLA, to go into Boulder Saturday and come away with a win over the No. 22 Colorado Buffaloes, which might drop Gary Barnett’s team out of the rankings. But the “W” in the Centennial State won’t be easy; it's coach Karl Dorrell’s opener at his alma mater and Colorado looks better than expected.

Auburn is an overrated team that could have its season crash when the Tigers travel to Georgia Tech. Both are one loss teams, each losing games to west coast schools (USC and BYU), which most experts had them winning. Any loss by a highly ranked school slightly helps the Beavers, but hurts the conference overall in the strength of schedule area.

As long as the Pac-10’s non-conference schedule includes opponents such as Notre Dame, LSU and Colorado State the conference of champions will benefit as a whole. This weekend Washington State travels east to visit Notre Dame, a possibly improved Arizona team plays host to No. 13 ranked LSU, and a surprisingly potent Cal team squares off against a good Colorado St. team in Berkley.

During week one, the difference between good teams and great teams is vague. USC looks like a great team because Auburn was hyped by the press, while Washington looked horrible because they played Ohio State, one of the best teams in the country, on the road. The Beavers played I-AA Sacramento State and it is diffiucult to guage where the Beavers are at this early point in the season.

I admit it, I am a Texas Longhorn fan, but really a Beaver at heart. This past Sunday I attended New Mexico State’s visit to Austin and it was not pretty. I do not expect the lowly Aggies to pose any threat to the Beavers, although they do have a nifty little quarterback named Buck Pierce.

Boise State on the other hand may be a game that the Beavers better tune up for, big time. Boise State rides one of the nation’s longest winning streaks at 11 straight and blew out nearly everyone they faced in 2002. Both teams should be undefeated when they meet in three weeks.

Boise State is a formidable opponent for OSU.

Fortunately, the Beavs were not placed high in most preseason polls, leaving plenty of room for improvement and a possible candidate to play the role of a dark horse.

A slow and gradual climb week by week, just like in 2000, is a perfect scenario for the orange and black. As long as the Beavers come out of Fresno with a win they are set to make another historic run. The rest of the schedule is in place for an epic showdown at the end of the season when the Beavers play in the Colesium on national TV, on the granddaddy of networks, ABC.

Only time will tell.

 

Nick Williams is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin where he writes for the Daily Texan. He loves the 'Horns, but bleeds black and orange. Willliams can be reached at nick.williams@beaverfootball.com.


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