IT HAS BEEN 244 days since Oregon State last played a football game. But the interminable wait is finally over, game day has once again arrived for the Beaver Faithful. A number of questions have surrounded OSU over the course of the offseason, all of them leading up to the opener against Stanford. The answers begin to reveal themselves starting tonight.

All the preseason talk gets put in a drawer shortly after 6 p.m. PT tonight. So how will the Beavs match up with a Stanford team returning 16 returning starters, the most in the Pac-10.

With seemingly no shortage of playmakers in the grabmaster department, how will the Beavs mix in the pass with the staple of a Mike Riley offense, the run.

How will a Beaver defense replacing seven starters fare against a Stanford offense that is, by at least a few accounts, much-improved over the one that allowed 48 sacks and endured a host of other sufferings a year ago.

How might Sammie Stroughter do in his return to action after missing virtually all of last season. The receiver has been lights out in fall camp, but might he also dust off some of his punt return magic in Palo Alto.

Will defensive end Victor Butler wreak havoc in the Cardinal backfield and affix himself from the start as a postseason honors candidate.

Will Lyle Moevao find the zone and show off that improved decision making Thursday in Palo Alto, as he has done so often during this month of August in fall camp. And how might his new physique, about 20 pounds lighter, play into the mix as the game wears on.

And while players like Ryan McCants, Jacquizz Rodgers and others have certainly turned heads on the practice field coming in, they will take their first college snaps in the game tonight. Will the 240-pound McCants drop a jaw or two with his speed to the corner. Will Quizz do the same with a hard cut that leaves a would-be tackler clawing at nothing but air. Or will Stanford's defensive front, expected to be stout, have the last laugh.

What of Greg Laybourn, he who swiftly calmed any fears Beaver fans might have entertained at the safety spot following the pre-camp departure of Bryan Payton. Will the DB who led the Beavs in picks during camp pilfer a Tavita Pritchard pass tonight.

How about the tight ends. Quiet last year, the black and orange quartet of Howard Croom, Brady Camp, Gabe Miller and John Reese are now a team strength. How might they make their imprint on the season opener.

How big an impact will the Beaver secondary have on the final outcome, with corners Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis one of the strengths of the Beaver D. And how will Al Afalava's one-game replacement fare, and will it be Austin Hall or Suaesi Tuimaunei...or both.

Big questions surround the big hosses on the offensive line, where C Alex Linnenkohl and RT Mike Remmers will take their first college snaps. But Andy Levitre, Gregg Peat and Adam Speer, along with Linnenkohl and Remmers, have been meshing nicely of late in camp.

And that's just for starters.

And if you need to fill some time between now and kickoff, here are a number of articles to peruse and ponder.

It's Oregon State football. And it's finally here.

Oregon State
Green OSU defense to get road tested
 (Statesman Journal)
Beavers will fall; Ducks will roll; Missouri is No. 1 (Statesman Journal)
Editorial: Wear the orange and black? Well, duh! (Gazette Times)
Oregon State ready to get off to a fast start (Gazette Times)
A dynamic duo for the Beavers (Gazette Times)
Fast start is the key to respect (Gazette Times)
Beavers set at center (Gazette Times)
Harbaugh hopes to defeat his father's team (Gazette Times)
Game against Stanford could ride on the line (Oregonian)
No nerves this time around: Moevao ready to lead the Beavers (Oregonian)
OSU-Stanford: Players to watch (Oregonian)

Cardinal keys to success in 2008 (Stanford Daily)
Ratto: Cal has savored success, Stanford has had a taste (San Franciso Chronicle)

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