Nov. 12, The Rose Bowl
2015 Record: 2-10 (0-9)
2015 Recap: This really doesn't bear much discussion. As expected, the Beavers were atrocious in year one under Gary Andersen, with much of the roster turning over after 2014. There was a revolving door at quarterback, and Oregon State never really settled on a consistent starter. The defense was very bad, the offense was very bad, and the team was uncompetitive in conference play outside of one close game against the next worst team in the league, Colorado, and one bizarre rivalry game against Oregon. The Beavers beat Weber State and San Jose State, but neither handily. Then, as soon as the season ended, defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, who was already making an impact in recruiting for Oregon State, left to become the head coach at BYU. In total, it's hard to fathom the year going worse for the Beavers.
Returning Starters: 14 (8 offense, 6 defense)
2016 Projection: To add to the issues from last season, basically Oregon State's entire depth chart at quarterback decided to transfer in the offseason, so the Beavers are essentially starting at square one there. Both guys who started last season, Seth Collins and Nick Mitchell, elected to transfer, and now it'll be a competition between Utah State transfer Darell Garretson (who was first string this spring), Marcus McMaryion, and true freshman Mason Moran. The hope is that Garretson will prove to be the answer, and he shined in the Beavers' spring game.
Even if they get quarterback figured out, there isn't much talent on the team yet. The receiving corps doesn't have an obvious star, with Jordan Villamin maybe being the best option. Ryan Nall in the backfield is a talent, with a big frame and some good straight-ahead speed, so perhaps Oregon State can build around the run game. The offensive line should be a more cohesive unit than last year, with four returning starters, so that's a plus. On the flip side, they dealt with injuries this spring that showed off the lack of depth.
Defensively, the picture is still a little rough, but there are some talented pieces coming in, including the two safeties mentioned above, Thompson and Wallace. Oregon State has some young talent in the secondary and at linebacker, and if they develop quickly, we could see the defense gelling into perhaps a just below average unit by the end of the year. Obviously, that's not going to put Oregon State in contention for anything, but the Beavers are starting from the basement.
The schedule isn't really worth evaluating. As it stands, Oregon State is probably going to win one non-conference game (Idaho State) and lose to Minnesota and Boise State. In conference, we could see the Beavers beating California, which should take a step back, and they could be competitive with Colorado again, but aside from that, it's hard to see any good shots at a win. If the Beavs make some incremental improvement, getting to 3-9 and then playing a few more competitive games, that would be a nice step forward for the program, and perhaps give Andersen something more to sell.
Outlook for UCLA: Look, very obviously UCLA should win this game by a considerable amount. Even though we recognize that UCLA has generally had some hiccups at home over the last four years, Oregon State doesn't project to be a talented enough team to really make this competitive. That said, UCLA had trouble with a similarly talented Colorado team last year, so who knows what kind of craziness can happen?
From a schedule perspective, it's awesome that UCLA gets Oregon State this year instead of Oregon. While this UCLA team is not the most talented the Bruins have had under Jim Mora, avoiding Washington and Oregon this year is pretty key, since both teams project to be pretty good in the Pac-12 North. Having this slight respite before USC on Nov. 19th will also be nice, and will hopefully give the Bruins some nice momentum heading into that Pac-12 South showdown.
Next up: USC...