Oregon State is one of the more surprising teams in college football, going 4-0 and vaulting to 10th in the rankings.
However, the Beavers' magical start has taken a bit of a detour, as star quarterback Sean Mannion is out indefinitely with a knee injury. He shouldn't be out for the whole season, but he will be out for at least a few weeks.
Mannion is one of the better quarterbacks in the nation. He's thrown for 1,358 yards and seven touchdowns and has a remarkable 63.3 completion percentage.
Now that he's out, Cody Vaz, a junior who hasn't taken a snap in two years, is set to take over. He says he's ready for the opportunity (via The Oregonian):
Being the backup, you have to prepare yourself. You have to have a good mental approach each week, and that’s something I’ve been doing these first four games, is preparing myself like I’m the starter. Now I am, and I’m going to make the most of this opportunity.
He may be ready, but it's going to be different for the Beavers after riding so high with Mannion. And it doesn't help that their opponent, the BYU Cougars, have a terrific defense.
BYU ranks third in the nation in points allowed. The Cougars give up an average of 8.8 points per game. In the last three games, they have given up a total of 10 points. And they gave up only seven points against 24th-ranked Boise State.
BYU struggles to score, however. The Cougars scored six points in a victory against Utah State and six points in a loss against Boise State. They can stop anyone, but they have a hard time of scoring against good teams.
The Oregon State defense is 24th in the nation, giving up 17 points a game. So there's no doubt that this will be a low-scoring game.
But here's the key: Not having Mannion is a killer blow for the Beavers. Vaz is just too big of an unknown at this point. He saw his most action in 2010 against Stanford, where he went 4-of-10 for 34 yards. Needless to say, Vaz is unproven.
The Cougars' stellar defense will give Vaz fits. It will be hard for him to get anything going, and that will allow BYU to load up against the run.
This game will be very low-scoring and could even stay in single digits. But not having Mannion will give the Beavers their first loss of the season.