It's the deep offseason right now, so we thought we'd put together some advance primers on the 2015 opponents on UCLA's schedule. We've already previewed Virginia, UNLV, BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, California, and Colorado. Next up: UCLA's ninth opponent of the season, Oregon State.
Nov. 7, Reser Stadium
2014 Record: 5-7 (2-7)
2014 Recap: As with fellow Pac-12 North member California, the Beavers started off the 2014 season looking fairly strong, winning four of their first five and appearing to have an inside track at a bowl game. The wheels came off at that point, though, with Oregon State losing six of their last seven. As a bright spot, the Beavers did beat then No. 6 Arizona State during that stretch, but otherwise, they very much struggled. In the wake of the season, Mike Riley, the longtime Oregon State head coach, left for Nebraska, and Sean Mannion, who started at quarterback since 2011, left for the NFL. Oregon State then made a dynamite hire, picking up Gary Andersen from Wisconsin in a move that shocked most of the college football world.
Returning Starters: 11 (2 defense, 9 offense)
Notable Recruits: MLB Christian Folau , JC RB Tim Cook ,
TE Noah Togiai , RB Paul Lucas
2015 Projection: You could make a really credible argument that Oregon State actually upgraded its staff significantly in the offseason, with Andersen taking over for Riley and former Utah defense coordinator Kalani Sitake making the move to Corvallis. Even with the staff ugprades, though, this year is very likely going to be a tough sort of rebuilding year for the Beavers.
First, offensively, Oregon State returns the majority of its starting group, but the loss is a key one: Mannion. True freshman Seth Collins is expected to be the starter this season, and he certainly flashed some ability this spring, but, as it is with most true freshmen, it could be very difficult for him to play at a consistently high level this year. He will be helped by an offensive line that returns entirely intact, receivers like Victor Bolden and Jordan Villamin, and running back Storm Woods, who has seemingly been at Oregon State for most of the last 12 years.
Defensively, the Beavers have significantly more issues. Oregon State returns just two starters from last season, which is a devastating hit to a defense that was just OK last year. The Beavers have to replace six of seven players in the front seven, and that's just not an easy thing to do, particularly given the overall low level of talent in the Oregon State program. Sitake should help, as he did wonders with some mildly under-talented Utah defenses in the past, but there's simply not much to work with.
In the non-conference, Oregon State will have a test against Michigan at Ann Arbor, but should be able to beat Weber State and San Jose State. In conference, though, the Beavers will have considerably more issues. The only game we'd put firmly in the win column at this point is probably Colorado at home. Hopefully for Beavers' fans, the coaching staff can get this team to play above its head a little bit to take games at Washington State, against Washington at home, and on the road against California, because otherwise, it's hard to project too many other wins for the Beavers next year.
Outlook for UCLA: Oregon State, like Colorado, falls firmly in the cupcake category for next year. There's enough offensive talent in place for the Beavers to be decent on that side of the ball, but they're likely going to be so bad defensively that they'll have a hard time stopping anyone.
This will be UCLA's first road game since October 15th, and there's always a chance with this game coming in November that there's some inclement weather that plays a factor. That might actually play into UCLA's hands, though, since the Bruins probably have the deeper corps of running backs and an overall more talented offensive line.
It's hard to envision a scenario where UCLA loses this game. Even if, say, Jerry Neuheisel were forced to start, for whatever reason, UCLA has an overwhelming talent advantage over the depleted Beavers, and it would take a truly masterful coaching job from Anderson and company to make this a really competitive game. That's not out of the question, of course, but as we said, it's hard to envision.
Next up: Washington State...
2015 Opponent Primer: Oregon State
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