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2011 Record: 3-9
Oregon State is in the unfortunate position of playing little brother to Oregon, at the same time the Ducks are not-so-quietly stepping into a role as one of college football's elite.
Complicating Oregon's success, the Beavers haven't gone to a bowl for two years.
That will change in 2012.
First, OSU returns eight on offense and nine on defense.
Also, the defense—which was ranked seventh in Pac-12 scoring defense last season—built up a good deal up depth due to injuries—the Beavers defense lost 20.5 percent of its starts in 2011.
The 2011 offense, which was second-to-last in conference scoring offense, was hounded by two issues: a quarterback with a propensity for throwing interceptions and a weak running game.
Sean Mannion was the quarterback in question. He had a TD:Interception ratio of 16:18, and threw the second-most interceptions in the country. He also led the Beavers to the worst turnover margin in the Pac-12.
However, he was a true freshman in 2011. Look for him to take substantial strides next season.
Meanwhile, the running game was hampered by the poor play of the offensive line and inexperience at running back.
The Beavers' top rusher was true freshman Malcolm Agnew. He played well when he did play, but he missed a lot of time with injuries. That was no surprise when one considers he is listed at 5'8", 188 pounds. An offseason in the weight room will help with durability.
Meanwhile, the O-line also lost a number of starts to injury, though that doesn't excuse its poor play. With three returning starters, it projects to be better in 2012, though it will still have to step up its game.
In closing, I am not calling for the Beavers to beat the Ducks or challenge for the Pac-12 title; however, they will achieve bowl eligibility.