BEWARE OF THE DEVILS: With a struggling Arizona State squad coming to town that has lost its last five games and Oregon State doing their usual late season surge their is a potential for the Beavers to overlook the 2-5 Sun Devils.
Despite their record ASU is vastly more talented program than Washington State or Washington as they must win now or stay home for the postseason. Plus, three of their five losses have come against top 25 programs.
“This is a dangerous team," said coach Mike Riley who is looking for his 52nd career win in Corvallis. "They are searching for that last stretch run in the season that can form an identity for themselves, as we are.
"With that, and the fact that they have good talent, and have a lot of potential with what they can do with that talent, makes them very dangerous. The expectations were so high for that team for a reason.”
ANOTHER GEAR?: Ho-hum. The Orange and Black defense is, once again, improving every week this season. The defense has forced eight turnovers in the last three games, is sacking a quarterback every 11.1 pass attempts and is limiting opposing team's offense to just a 31.9% success rate on third downs, good for third lowest in the conference.
Throw in experienced defensive ends Victor Butler and Slade Norris, who has 4.5 sacks in the past three games, sophomore DT Stephen Paea who is becoming a beast in the middle and S Greg Laybourn who leads the conference in tackles per game (8.9) and you've got a pretty good set of core players.
But Butler says the defensive line still has another gear.
“Every game is a new challenge and getting down and watching the film, you iron out the kinks because there are going to be problems," said Butler who is tied for fourth in school history with 15.5 sacks. "I feel like this D-line still has another gear that we can kick it into. I feel that we are good, but we can become a great group.”
A DEADLY DUO: Bothers James and Jacquizz Rodgers almost singled handedly defeated the Huskies two weeks ago in Seattle, but a closer look at the statistics shows they have been doing it all year long.
Seven games into the season the Rodgers brothers have accounted for 1,565 yards (James - 577 yards, Jacquizz - 988) of total offense which translates to 51.6 percent of Oregon State’s total.
“They are like our little brothers; they are small in stature, but they play with such a big heart and they are so fast," said offensive guard Adam Speer who will be making his 20th straight start Saturday. "They are full of energy and it’s great to be in the huddle with them and it's great playing with them.”
Quizz is on pace to accumulate 1,392 yards rushing this season which would
eclipse the OSU freshman record of Ken Simonton’s 1,028
in 1998. He currently leads the
Pac-10 and is 13th in the nation in rushing with 116.0 yards per game. A freshman has never led the Pac-10 in rushing.
IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR: If you're a Beaver fan that is. OSU is off to their best conference start (3-1) since 2000 and is tied with USC for a Pac-10 best 17-4 in games played in October, November and December over the last two-plus seasons.
Five games are left on the schedule, with three in the friendly confines of Reser Stadium where they have won six straight. If the Beavers win out they would go to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 44 years.
“The position we are in is a really good one for our team," quarterback Lyle Moevao said. "We have worked really hard this season and this off-season to be where we are at. It is a five-game stretch for the rest of the season and its going to be tough. We know it is not going to be given to us.
"Coach Riley says it all the time: ‘Good teams win on the road.’ That’s what we have to do. I know we are undefeated at home but we have to try and take it to the next level.”
CASH 'EM IN: It's no secret that one of the most crucial parts to winning a football game to taking care of the football and the Beavers are one of the best at taking care of the pigskin sporting a +4 turnover margin - the third highest in the conference.
But another important part is cashing in on the turnovers and the Beaver offense, and defense for that matter, has done an outstanding job turning turnovers into points this season. In the last five games the defense has forced 13 turnovers and turned them into 10 scores and 74 points (10 touchdowns, 2 field goals).
“We have a really good group of guys; we work hard," offensive guard Adam Speer said. "We just play with at lot of effort. What a lot of it is that the whole team is playing good, so we are all clicking."
MOVE THOSE CHAINS: The offense has put up big numbers throughout the season as they are averaging averaging 433.4 yards of total offense per game (23rd in the nation), which is more than 60 yards per game better than last year (371.6).
The passing offense averages 259.7 yards per game (21st in the nation) while QB Lyle Moevao ranks first in the Pac-10 and 20th in the nation in passing yards per game (254.1). In addition, receivers Shane Morales and Sammie Stroughter rank 52nd (71.1) and 54th (70.9) in receiving yards per game, respectively.
A large part of the passing game's success can be attributed to an offensive line that has given up a conference low eight sacks or an average of 29.74 pass attempts per sack.
Throw in an effective running game that has rushed for 553 yards in the last two games and has lost just two fumbles all year and you've got an offense that can move up and down the field on anybody.
"We have Quizz running the ball so well, and we have Lyle getting rid of the ball and finding the receivers who are open and running their good routes," offensive guard Adam Speer said. "it makes everyone look good.”
HE'S BAAACK!: Senior OT Tavita Thompson has been reinstated following a one-year, NCAA-mandated suspension for taking over the counter diet pills.
Thompson practiced with the first team scout team during his suspension but moved to the starting lineup during the bye week. He will split time with right tackle Mike Remmers, who has started all seven games this year, against Arizona State.
The last game Thompson played in was OSU's 31-28 upset of No. 2 Cal in Berkeley last season.
The coaches were impressed with his focus and dedication during his suspension and believe he has the talent to make it to the NFL.
ON A RECORD PACE: As already stated QB Lyle Moevao leads the Pac-10 in passing yards per game, but did you know he is on pace to break a school record?
The junior is on track for completion percentage for one season for a Beaver at 63.2 (148-234) percent - the current record holder is Matt Moore in 2006 at 60.6 (229-378) percent. He also is on pace to have the fifth-highest total yards in a season with 3,049.
“Lyle is a great example of a guy who has taken advantage of a year, or at least part of year, playing the game and over a year of learning the system and then combining it with hard physical work and preparation for a season," Riley said. "I have a lot of admiration for how he approaches his preparation for the game, both on and off the field.
"The extra watching of film, basically the extra meeting time with the coaches, he was up here after practice last night watching film with Danny and I as we looked back at the practice film of the day. He was the only other player left in the building doing that. There is a reason why he is doing as well as he is doing.
"It mostly has to do with him, his work ethic, his experience put in with that work ethic and the enthusiasm with which he plays the game. He is really competitive and wants to win, so put all of that together, and those are all reasons why he is doing well and has come a long way as a quarterback.”