Yes, fellow football fanatics, it's true. Some may still have questions, and some may still not believe. But I do. Some will say the Beavers have got to beat a team worth mentioning before they'll concede the point. Some will say you can't go around beating up 1AA teams in non-conference action and expect to get recognition after the first Pac-10 win. But I say they're wrong. I say this team has just put it all together. I say this team has found their leader at QB again. I say to all of you reading this: The Beavers are in the house!
The competition with Arizona State wasn't flawless; at times it wasn't even pretty. But it was a win; a big win against a ranked opponent. The Sun Devils may no longer be ranked and several people are still chanting, "overrated", but nobody would be saying that if they'd won. Going into the game, they were the number 24 ranked team in the country (ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll). They'd had a bad game the week before and were looking to rebound.
|Arizona State was not push over.|
The Beavers could have looked at that ranking, the Heisman hyped QB, their own struggles, and they could have mailed it in. They could have looked at the trading of turnovers in the first half and decided they just couldn't get it together. They could have. What they did instead was focus. They focused on eliminating the mistakes they were making. They focused on what mistakes the Devils were making. And inevitably, they focused enough to absolutely drill a shocked Arizona State squad.
I learned a long time ago that you can always take statistics and build a case for just about anything you want. I learned a long time that statistics don't always translate into how a team will perform. But those qualifying statements aside, stop for a moment and consider the following.
The Beavers are first in the Pac-10 in team passing yards, team rushing yards, and team total offense, while they are fifth in team scoring offense. Quarterback Derek Anderson is tied for first in the Pac-10 in passing touchdowns at nine. With that kind of production, combined with the punishing ground attack led by Steven Jackson, the Beavers are in a very strong position.
If they can limit penalties and turnovers, something the Beavers coaching staff have been proclaiming to be a priority, Oregon State is bound to move the ball well enough that more trips to that little 10-yard space between the goal line and the end line can be expected.
|The Beaver "D" ranks third in the Pac-10 in team passing, fourth in team rushing, and first in scoring defense.|
Defensively, the orange and black are third and fourth in the conference in team passing and team rushing defense respectively. They are first in team scoring defense, holding opponents to an average of 16 points per game, while overall they rank third in total defense.
The Beavers have a solid defense that has done an exceptional job holding teams out of the end zone, particularly the Sun Devils. Concerns about the ability to cover on the corners appears to be subsiding, although this hack needs to see great play at that position against a hot QB to be convinced the hole has been filled.
Doubters are going to cry foul and point to the opponents the Beavers have had, and that may be fair to some degree. But Fresno State, Boise State, and Arizona State are not patsies. Each of these programs received significant praise and attention before the start of this season. Each of these teams has an excellent ability to move the ball and put points on the board. And still, each of these teams has athletes on the roster that can play at the next level.
Let's give some credit where credit is due, with the exception of the Fresno State game, Oregon State has shown up to play. And since that game against the Bulldogs, the Beavers have shown to be more ready than the week before.
Yes, it's true the Beavers are performing well. So, tell your friends, your
neighbors, the Duckfan sitting in the office next to you, the people in the
hallway, and the hundreds on the streets: the Oregon State Beavers have arrived.
And a win Saturday against the Golden Bears of California is going to be their
calling card to the rest of the country.
Robert Nesta joined BeaverFootball.com in 2003. The views expressed in his
column are not necessarily those of BeaverFootball.com. Nesta can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.