Three weeks into the college football season and the biggest enigma is…Oregon State. Seriously? Yes. The Beavers were set to open their 2012 season against Nicholls State, but were forced to postpone the game because of Hurricane Isaac. Last week, they had a bye. While most teams in the country have played three games, OSU has played one. But what a game it was. On the same day UCLA pulled the upset over Nebraska, OSU outdid them and beat Wisconsin.
Beating Wisconsin certainly surprised everyone, but looking back now, it may not be what it seems. Wisconsin’s other two games came against Northern Iowa and Utah State. The Badgers won those by a combined 7 points. Not very impressive for the 2-time defending Big 10 champions. Utah State did, however, beat Utah, who beat BYU, who destroyed Washington State. So it all brings us back to Oregon State. How big was their win against Wisconsin? How good is Oregon State really? No one knows.
On paper, OSU was not expected to be very good in 2012. Many people expected improvement from last season’s 3-9 record, but no one expected them to be much of a factor in the conference. Looking at the offense, which ranked 100th in the nation last year, there is potential. The Beavers return seven starters and have a core of young talent that got plenty of experience last year.
On the offensive line, OSU brings back Grant Enger, Josh Andrews, and Colin Kelly from last season’s starting unit. Starting at center is highly recruited freshman Isaac Seumalo. These four along with the return of Michael Phillip, who missed last season with a knee injry, were expected to be the biggest question mark in 2012. Through just one game, they still are. What a surprise. The Beavers rushed the ball for just 2.6 yards per carry against Wisconsin, but held up well in pass protection.
At the skill positions, OSU is loaded. Running backs Storm Woods and Malcolm Agnew will split the carries out of the backfield, but the real strength is the receivers. Markus Wheaton returns after a stellar 2011 season. One time Bruin commit Brandin Cooks had an impressive freshman season last year and will have an increased role this season. Also providing stability to the position is reliable senior and redzone weapon Jordan Bishop.
At quarterback, the Beavers start 6-5 215 lb sophomore Sean Mannion. In 2011, Mannion, just a freshman, had an up and down season, but showed plenty of signs to get the Beaver faithful excited. This year, he is expected to make the jump into the top half of Pac 12 signal callers. Against Wisconsin, he was 29/47 276 yards 1 TD and 0 INT.
Once again, on paper, OSU’s offense looks solid. Against Wisconsin, however, they only scored 10 points. It’s still early in the season and no one knows what to make of the Beavers, but this may be a good thing for UCLA. This OSU team cannot be overlooked and UCLA will need to play a complete, 60 minute football game to come out victorious on Saturday.