The Beaver Beat (November 3, 2007)

In the Bible, God needed a day off after creating the heavens, the earth and all the creatures that lived in them. For your intrepid reporter, making the prediction of a lifetime required just a little bit more downtime – somewhere in the neighborhood of three weeks.

What monumental pick am I talking about? Flash back to a couple of weeks ago, before the Cal game, when yours truly gave you the Gospel:


Oregon will dismantle the Coogs, ASU will continue their exhibition game winning streak, Dirty Sanchez jokes will (thankfully) replace "Booty Calls", and Stanford will make everyone in the Pac proud by choking against Texas Christian.

And the Beavers? Keenan Lewis, Jeremy Perry and Sammie Stroughter will all be watching this game from the bench, but Longshore's ailment will be the one that matters most in this game. If Canfield takes advantage of a mediocre Cal pass defense, and if the defense keeps OSU +2 in turnovers, the game will be a lot closer than anyone thinks. If either one doesn't happen, it'll be a long bye week for Beaver fans.

As always, your intrepid reporter is an optimist. 31-28, Beavs.


Of course, after proving my divinity once again, I decided to give my readers a break to soak in the magic. And then there was some stuff with work and Tampa and missing the Stanford game and…well, you know what? None of that's important. What is important is that I just replicated Stephen Colbert picking all of the Oscar winners a few years back (if you don't know what I'm talking about, stop reading here and consult YouTube), only I did the equivalent of predicting what they would wear to the event, too.

Please, hold your applause.

Meanwhile, during my Sabbath, OSU has managed to put together a nice little conference winning streak. Sure, Arizona and Stanford are both lousy, but conference wins are the commodity by which Pac-10 teams live and die. Just ask USC or UCLA.

But what about that Cal win? Have we become so spoiled that beating the number two team ON THE ROAD isn't that big of a deal? Ho-hum, let's just got ready for STANFORD?

In some ways, I think that is the case for this team. I missed the boat on being able to provide the amount of time to this idea that I want, but I will say this: Mike Riley now has the two best wins in the modern era for Oregon State, with USC in 2006 and Cal in 2007. Erickson sympathizers will say "Hey, moron, what about Notre Dame?" That was a big win in terms of importance to the program, but that Notre Dame team was VASTLY overrated, and the Beavs had a month to prepare and get to full strength. In the case of USC, Oregon State played without Yvenson Bernard, This year, Jeremy Perry, Keenan Lewis, Sammie Stroughter and Daniel Drayton were nowhere to be found. USC and Cal have fallen off since, but their rankings at the time, the momentum they were carrying and the players OSU DIDN'T have for those two games make the 2006 USC and 2007 Cal wins the best in modern history.

Of course, we would probably care more about the Cal win right now if we hadn't watched the team choke against Cincy, ASU and UCLA. But I digress.

Here are my thoughts on this week's games:

UCLA at Arizona: These two teams have more in common than meets the eye. For one, both of them will be announcing their new head coach in three months. For another, they both are really, really inconsistent.

How does UCLA lose to Notre Dame and have only one conference loss? How does Arizona look awesome against Wazzu and get absolutely destroyed in Corvallis?

Who cares? The Beaver homer and the prognosticator in me say that the home team will prevail.

Washington @ Stanford : If UCLA/Arizona was the Bowl of Two Teams Who Will Be Firing Their Head Coach, this game is the Bowl of Two Teams with Really Really High Expectations that Never Came to Pass.

Man, that Jake Locker guy really looked like the savior of Washington athletics for awhile didn't he? Eight weeks later, U-Dub has only two wins and sole possession of 10th place in the Pac-10. If Jake Locker could be seven more people, and all of those people could play run defense, they might have creeped into 9th by now. I'm not putting it past Jake to be working on this as we speak.

And what about Stanford? Were they REALLY talking about a bowl game going into the OSU game? Did that actually happen? Was Jim Harbaugh ACTUALLY mad about something (in this case, OSU's corners "holding" in pass coverage) in the football game? I thought they just plopped the Stanford coaches down for postgame interviews, gave them a TelePrompTer chock full of "good game", "lots of heart", "improvement" and "they're a good football team" and hoped for the best. Well, when you're sitting on a 3-4 record after being as dead as Barbaro for the last few years, a pulse can be overwhelming sometimes.

Which team has Ty Willingham ruined less? I'm going to go with Washington, for the win. And go take a shower for predicting that.

Washington State @ Cal: Initially my gut-level reaction was to just write "Wazzu sucks, Cal wins". That's generally my train of thought when predicting anything related to Washington State. For God's sake, they play in Pullman, Washington. That anyone has ever HEARD of Washington State is victory enough. That and the ESPN Gameday Flag Guy are the only reasons Wazzu remains in the Pac-10. I am sure of this.

But Cal's on a slide right now. And Wazzu does play decent defense, which could hinder Cal's explos…well, pretty good offense.

But this isn't Pullman. And thank God for that. Cal wins in a somewhat close game.

Arizona State @ Oregon: Kirk Herbstriet picked the Ducks to win. Lee Corso put on the Duck helmet. GameDay is in town. The stage is set once again for Oregon to get their hopes smashed.

But I'll go on the record and say it: That's not going to happen.

Oregon is a very talented football team that happens to be playing on uppers right now. You remember that 2001 team they had? I don't know who would win in a game between those two teams. I think Oregon's one suckerpunch away from stumbling down the stretch, but I also don't think that 2001 team was as talented as this one.

Thing is, I think ASU's a lot like that 2001 team. They're not the most talented team in the league, but they keep finding ways to "just win baby". See the pen on the table over there? Everytime I think of Rudy Carpenter evading a sack and throwing some ridiculous, no-way-in-hell touchdown pass to a receiver who everyone forgot, I want to stick that pen in my eye. THAT'S the way I felt watching the 2001 Ducks.

Talent vs. Tenacity. Who wins? Well, that Autzen crowd will play a big factor. So will Dennis Dixon, who's the best quarterback in the Pac by a long, long ways right now. Oregon by 14 (cough).

Oregon State @ USC: Blah blah history, blah blah injuries, blah blah USC is USC, blah blah. You've read all that this week, I know. But there's one thing that hasn't been addressed: My gut feeling.

USC's having its worst season in recent memory (which of course means they're not even out of the Top 20). They're having quarterback issues, their running game has fallen off, they don't have that one Mike Williams/Dwayne Jarrett receiver…and if you remember, it was their offense that even made it a game last year.

Sure, their defense is pretty good. But have you seen Oregon State's offense this year? Have you ever seen a team play prevent offense after the second SERIES? If I'm Mike Riley, here's what my playbook says: "Run, run, run, get first downs, kick field goals, don't fumble." The goal of the offense isn't to score, it's to give the defense a break. If the defense comes to play, that'll be enough.

So here's my second straight Homer Upset Special: OSU 24, USC 17.

Curtis Haley used to write this column every week. Now? Not so much.

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