REVERSING THE TREND: The team has reversed the trend on several statistical categories during their two game win streak. In their first two games they averaged 89 yards rushing, in their last two 196.5. In the first two games they were -4 in turnover margin, the last two +5. In third down conversions for the offense 10 of 29 (34%) compared to 15 of 33 (45%), In third down conversions allowed 12 of 26 (46%) compared to 3 of 21 (14%) and last but not least penalties 19 for 176 versus 9 for 67 yards.
GAME TIME DECISION: Seniors Sammie Stroughter (hip), Brandon Hughes (hamstring) and Al Afalava (groin) will all be game time decisions after they practiced sparingly this week. If they are sidelined, look for Darrell Catchings to take Stroughter's place in the lineup, Tim Clark to take Hughes place and Suaesi Tuimaunei to take Afalava's place. But keep an eye out, too, for WR Chris Johnson and safeties Cameron Collins and Lance Mitchell.
COACH SAYS: Coach Mike Riley knows that his team must remain hungry to knock off back to back ranked teams and the loss to Penn State earlier in the season has kept the team grounded. "Now you cannot cross that line over into complacency, that’s where you think you show up and win games, but that’s never going to be the case. Our team is a grounded team and they understand the game is unique and every opportunity is unique. How we practice and prepare will all be very important in the next step."
STAYING GROUNDED: The players are aware that although knocking off the number one team in the nation is great, they must move on or risk getting embarrassed on national television. DE Slade Norris sums it up perfectly, "This next game is pretty much the most important for us. If we don’t win, it kind of takes away all the hype from last game." While S Greg Laybourn knows where the team's focus should be, "“We need to keep Thursday behind us and focus on what’s next. It’s not that tough (to focus) knowing that Utah is 5-0 and a ranked team on the road. We haven’t won the road yet this year, so we need to get focused again for a game like this.”
HERE COMES THE STREAK: It’s been well documented that
the Beavers have struggled to open the last few seasons before playing their
best in October, November and December. Last week, OSU won a Pac-10 game in August or September for the first time in seven tries, dating back to a 45-17 win over Arizona State Sept. 27, 2003. However, Oregon State is a Pac-10 best 15-3 in games played in October, November and December over the last two seasons.
QUIZZ WATCH: Beaver running back Jacquizz Rodgers is on pace to accumulate 1,347 yards rushing this season which would eclipse the OSU freshman record of Ken Simonton’s 1,028 in 1998. Simonton was a redshirt-freshman while Rodgers is a true freshman. Rodgers leads the nation in rushing among true freshmen (112.2 yards per game) and is 14th overall.
NO BREAKS: This is the third time Oregon State has faced a nationally ranked team in the first five games of the season. The Beavers faced former No. 1 USC last week and current No. 6 Penn State Sept. 6. The Beavers are one of five teams in the nation to play three current AP top-25 teams in their respective first five games — Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah State and Washington. It’s also the first time OSU has played three nationally ranked teams in the first five games since 1970 — No. 18 UCLA, No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 5 USC.
KNOCK 'EM DOWN: Oregon State beat the No. 3 team (USC) in the country in 2006, the No. 2 (California) in 2007 and the No. 1 (USC) in 2008. Starting with 1988, Oregon State is one of nine teams to be unranked and beat the No. 1 team.
BACK IN ACTION: Kicker Justin Kahut is expected to handle field goal and PAT duties this week after missing the USC game with a hip pointer. Expect Matt Barker to still handle kickoffs through. Coach Riley has said QB Sean Canfield is "bonafide" backup and will be ready to come off of the bench if need be. After practicing all week Jeremy Perry will dress down for the second game of the year and be available to play.
TURNOVER STORY: Over the last 53 games, Oregon State is 23-2 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent, 6-16 when committing more turnovers and 3-3 when even. Since 2001 the Beavers are tied for seventh in the nation for forced turnovers with 209. The Beavers’ defense trails USC (244), Virginia Tech (227), Oklahoma (217), West Virginia (216), Washington State (214), Boston College (211) and Southern Miss also has 209.
MOEVAO ON RECORD PACE: QB Lyle Moevao is on record pace for completion percentage for one season for a Beaver at 61.8 (97-157) percent — the current record holder is Matt Moore in 2006 at 60.6 (229-378) percent. He also is on pace to have the fourth-highest total yards in a season with 3,266. He is 6-2 as a starter.
ROAD WARRIORS: Oregon State has won three of its last five games on the road vs. Associated Press top-25 teams, defeating No. 18 Oregon and No. 2 California last season and No. 24 Hawai’i in the season finale of 2006 - Cal would have been No. 1 after LSU lost earlier in the Oct. 13 day. The losses were to then-No. 19 Penn State this season and No. 13 USC last year.
NATIONALLY RANKED, NO PROBLEM: Head coach Mike Riley was once criticized that he couldn’t beat nationally ranked teams. Over the last seven games vs. AP top-25 teams, the Beavers are 5-2, dating back to the 2006 win over USC. The other wins are at then No. 24 Hawai’i (35-32) in 2006, at No. 3 California (31-28), at No. 18 Oregon (38-31 2 OT) in 2007 and vs. No. 1 USC (27-21) last week. The two losses, last season at No. 13 USC (24-3) and earlier this year at then No. 19 Penn State (45-14).
GROUND GAME IS KEY TO SUCCESS: It’s an old adage for football coaches to say “you have to be able to run the ball.” In the two Beaver victories, the team has rushed a combined 95 times for 393 yards. In the team’s losses, 60 times for 178 yards. To break it down even further 0- in the wins - OSU 95 rushes vs. 64 pass attempts - in the losses - 60 rushes vs. 95 pass attempts.
SUPERB PROTECTION: Oregon State has attempted 159 passes, but only been sacked five times - that's an average of nearly 32 attempts for every sack. Only USC (48 att/sack) and Oregon (41 att/sack), in the Pac-10, has an average that high or low depending on your point of view. Beaver opponents have 108 attempts with five sacks or 22 attempts per sack.