Five days that will decide OSU's season

MIKE RILEY AND company always preach taking one game at a time. But there are always games that are more significant than others. Beat USC and it could turn around a season, or catapult a squad into the national spotlight. Beat your rival, and end the year on a high note indeed. Here are five games that will decide Oregon State's season.

#5.  Oct. 24, at USC

No matter what happens before the USC game a road win in The Coliseum is always big and could turnaround a season or catapult the program into the Top 25 or more and the driver's seat for the Pac-10 crown.

ROAD WOES IN LOS ANGELES:  The Men in Black have lost 21 straight to USC on the road.  The last time OSU defeated the Trojans in Los Angeles was 14-0 victory in 1960.

 

#4.  Sept. 19, Cincinnati

The Bearcats are the first Big East opponent to visit Corvallis since 1977 when Craig Fertig's squad downed Syracuse 24-12.  The Beavers will be looking for avenge their 34-3 loss at Cincinnati in 2007 when they had more first downs, rushing and passing yards than the Bearcats but threw six interceptions.

HOME, SWEET, HOME:  The Beavers have a real shot at going undefeated in non-league play for the first time since the 2002 season (Eastern Kentucky, at Temple, UNLV).  The Men in Black haven't lost a non-conference game in Corvallis in over a decade while Mike Riley has never lost a non-conference home tilt with a perfect 16-0 mark.

 

#3.  Dec. 3, at Oregon
 A win on the road in the Civil War only leads to good things - Oregon State experienced the euphoria in 2007, Oregon in 2008.  In the last three seasons under Riley  the Beavers are 13-8 in road or neutral site games.

REVENGE:  The last two Civil Wars have been won by the road team reversing the 10-year trend of the home team winning.  Oregon expects to be highly ranked by this time of the year and it could be the Beavers playing the spoiler this time around as they have an extra week to prepare for the game, just like the Ducks had last season.

 

#2. Sept. 26, Arizona

The conference opener is always a big game and it won't be easy against an every improving Arizona team.  The Beavs have won eight of the last nine against the Wildcats, but UA did grind out an ugly win in 2005 that spoiled OSU's bowl hopes.  Arizona will be looking for revenge for last year's loss to OSU when Justin Kahut nailed a field goal as time expired for the win.

PAC-10 OPENERS:  If the Beavers go through the non-conference schedule unscathed and pick up a win in their first Pac-10 game it would be the first time OSU was 4-0 since the 2000 season and just the third time this decade that they won their conference opener.

 

#1.  Oct. 31, UCLA

Sandwiched in between difficult road trips to USC and California this is a must win game against the Bruins.  Lose this game and the Beavers could be riding a three game losing streak heading into the second half of the season.

BEAVERS TIME OF THE YEAR:  In the last three years OSU has excelled late in the year compiling a 22-5 conference record in games played in October, November and December in the last two-plus seasons. Only USC (21-4) has a better record those months..


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