THE RUNNING GAME: With the Rodgers brothers out the Beavs will be relying on a running back by committee. Redshirt freshman Ryan McCants (79 car., 314 yds, 2 TD 4.0 ypc) will receive his second career start with junior Jeremy Francis (20 car., 89 yds, 1 TD | 12 cat., 126 tds, 1 TD) providing backup, but expect each to receive equal playing time. Coach Mike Riley has also stated that tight ends Joe Halahuni (1 rec., 3 yds)and Gabe Miller (no catches) could also get some carries and at the very least line up as fullbacks.
PROTECTING THE QB: Oregon State has attempted 405 passes, but only been sacked 16 times - that’s an average of 25.3 attempts for every sack, which is the best mark in the Pac-10. Beaver opponents have 326 attempts with 34 sacks - or 9.6 attempts per sack.
50% SIDELINED: Only two starters on offense will sit out the Sun Bowl - RB Jacquizz Rodgers and WR James Rodgers - but 50% of the team's offensive output will not be suited up. Thus far the Rodgers brothers have accounted for 2,515 yards (James - 1,015 yards, Jacquizz - 1,500) of Oregon State’s 5,019 total yards in 2008. That translates to 50.1 percent of Oregon State’s total.
QUICK STRIKE OFFENSE: The Beavers have paid visits to the end zone in five plays or fewer 22 times this season which ties for the 10th-most in the nation. In addition, OSU has 18 touchdowns drives of two minutes or less which ranks 15th in the nation.
THE FLY SWEEP: Although James is not playing don't expect OSU to scrap the fly sweep. Seniors Chris Johnson (3 car. for 2 yds) and Sammie Stroughter (5 car. for 33 yds) have been getting plenty of repetitions in practice and each has the speed to get the edge and break a big play.
BALL SECURITY: Oregon State has rushed the ball 457 times and has lost only five fumbles all season. The Beavers are tied for sixth for fewest fumbles lost in 2008, only Oklahoma (2), LSU (2), Central Michigan (4), Miami (4), and Colorado State (4) have lost fewer.
CANFIELD OR MOEVAO - IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER: Despite regularly starting a different quarterback every few weeks due to injuries the Beavers have continued to keep on winning. Here's a quick look at the back and forth nature of the starting quarterbacks this season:
- Starter Lyle Moevao went down with a shoulder
injury in the Nov. 1 win over Arizona State early in
the second quarter with OSU leading 7-3.
- Backup Sean Canfield, who missed most of preseason practice while
rehabilitating from a shoulder injury, came in to lead
the Beavers to a 27-25 win over the Sun Devils.
lefty then played the entire game in a 34-6 win over
UCLA the following week,.
- Moevao returned a week later
leading the team to a 34-21 win against Cal.
- Moevao was
unable to practice the following week due to the previous
- Canfield was forced back into the starting lineup leading the team to a crucial 19-17 win at Arizona.
REVERSE THE TREND: For their careers, Moevao is 10-4 as a starter and Canfield is 7-4, although he played nearly all of last year’s Emerald Bowl and as stated before most of this year’s ASU game. Together, the two have combined to throw 25 touchdown passes and just 13 interceptions this season, compared to 11 touchdowns and 21 interceptions a year ago.
IT’S THE BEAVERS’ TIME OF YEAR: OSU has the second-best record in the Pac-10 at 21-5 in games played in October, November and December in the last two-plus seasons. Only USC (21-4) has a better record during October, November and December.
ROAD GAMES: Oregon State started the season 0-3 on the road, but then the Beavers entered the part of the season where it has been most successful away from Reser Stadium in recent years. Here’s a closer look (not counting Bowl games): 2008 - 0-3 road start; 3-3 finish | 2007 – 0-2 start; 3-1 finish | 2006 – 0-1 start; 4-1 finish | 2005 – 0-1 start; 2-2 finish | 2004 – 0-3 start; 3-0 finish
YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO RUN: Rushing yards could be hard to come by with the Rodgers brothers out, but history shows a successful rushing game usually equals a victory for the Beavers. In the eight OSU victories, the team has rushed a combined 334 times for 1,616 yards, an average of 202.0 yards per game. In the team’s losses, 123 times for 359 yards, or an average of 89.8 ypg.
THIS IS GETTING ROUTINE: Heading into the 1999 season saying routine about Oregon State playing in a bowl game would have evoked numerous responses, and not one would have been positive. But, it has indeed become routine as Oregon State plays in its eighth bowl game in 10 years - tied for the second most appearances in that span in the Pac-10 with USC (Oregon has appeared in nine bowls during that timeframe).
SUN BOWL SWAG: Each player can receive a total of $500 in gifts from the bowl game sponsors. This year each player on the team received:
- Sony DVD Handycam, $319.50
- Silvertone watch from Timely Watch Co. of Frisco, Texas, $68
- Armor Gear Dolly Llama Travel Bag, $50
- Majestic Therma Fleece Pullover, VP Sports of El”Paso did the embroidery, $44.50
- Brut Hair Dryer, from Helen of Troy, $8
- Baseball cap, from VP Sports, $7
- Brut Sun Bowl Souvenir Coin, from VP Sports, $3
- Total: $500
IN THE POLLS: Oregon State enters the Sun Bowl No. 24 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Pitt is No. 18 AP/No. 21 USA Today/No. 20 BCS. The Beavers have been ranked four consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since the 2000 season (9 weeks) when the team finished No. 4.
STRONG SEASON: Oregon State had its first ever 7-game Pac-10 Conference win streak during its 8-4 campaign. The Beavers also finished tied for second in the league, its highest finish in the Pac-10 other than a tie for first in 2000 (7-1). Over the last three seasons OSU is the second-winningest program in the Pac-10 with 27 victories, trailing only USC (34).
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Oregon State played one of the more difficult schedules in the nation in 2008, including BCS bowl participants No. 5 (AP) USC, No. 6 Penn State and No. 7 Utah. In addition, the Beavers played bowl bound Hawai’i, Arizona, California and No. 15 Oregon. Arkansas and Michigan are the only other teams in the nation to play three BCS Bowl bound squads in 2008.
WHAT WAS THAT?: The Beavers are set to square off with its fourth top 25 opponent this season. OSU has a 1-3 against top 25 competition in 2008 with their only win coming against No. 1 USC. Over the last nine games vs. AP top-25 teams, the Beavers are 5-4, dating back to the 2006 win over USC. The other wins are at then No. 24 Hawai’i (35-32) in 2006, at No. 2 California (31-28), at No. 18 Oregon (38-31 2 OT) in 2007 and vs. No. 1 USC (27-21) earlier this season.
TURNOVER STORY: Over the last 61 games, Oregon State is 26-3 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent, 8-17 when committing more turnovers and 4-3 when even. Since 2001, the Beavers rank eighth in the nation for forced turnovers with 223. The Beavers’ defense trails USC (263), Virginia Tech (244), Oklahoma (240), West Virginia (234), Boston College (232), Southern Mississippi (226) and Hawai’i (224).
- TE Joe Halahuni - expected to play but will have knee surgery in the off season
- DT Mitchel Hunt - expected to play but fighting through a knee injury
- DT Stephen Paea - expected to play but fighting through a knee injury.
- RB Jacquizz Rodgers - out with a sprained shoulder, Ryan McCants and Jeremy Francis will take over running back duties
- WR James Rodgers - out with a broken collarbone, Darrell Catchings and Chris Johnson will take over his receiving duties.
PERFECTO: Head coach Mike Riley began his second tenure at Oregon State in February of 2003 and has since led OSU to a 4-0 mark in bowls. The streak includes wins in the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl (55-14 vs. New Mexico), the 2004 Insight Bowl (38-21 vs. Notre Dame) , the 2006 Sun Bowl (39-28 vs. Missouri) and the 2007 Emerald Bowl (21-14 vs. Maryland). Riley is actually undefeated in bowl games - 4-0 at OSU and 3-0 as offensive coordinator at USC.
CASH 'EM IN: In 2008, Oregon State has forced 20 turnovers and turned them into 15 scores and 95 points (13 touchdowns, 2 field goals). On the other side of the ball, through 12 games, the Beavers have committed 18 turnovers resulting in only 51 points (7 at Stanford, 3 at Penn State, 7 at Utah, 13 against Washington State, 7 against Arizona State and 14 against Oregon).
THAT’S WHY YOU PLAY THE GAMES: Oregon State continues to overachieve, at least according to the media who regularly cover the Pac-10 Conference. Every July the media make their predictions for the season and of late the Beavers have finished higher than expected. Here is a closer look (year, predicted, actual): 2008, 6th, T2nd | 2007, 5th, 3rd | 2006, 7th, 3rd.