2010 College Football Predictions: Oregon State Will Upset TCU
The Beavs are toiling away during two-a-day practice schedules in preparation for their nationally televised 2010 debut (Oregon State vs. TCU on Sept. 4, 7:30 pm EST on ESPN). Oregon State features a strong mix of experienced upperclassmen and newcomers with promising futures.
However, will the Black and Orange be ready to face a program that finished 2009 ranked sixth in the country in both major polls? All signs point to a close, thrilling finish in Week One.
An Offense Swimming Downstream
The Beavers feature several award candidates on this year's roster (a recap of the candidates found here: Oregon State Football Practices To Begin August 9), including a Heisman Trophy candidate, junior running back Jacquizz Rodgers, his older brother, junior wide receiver James, a candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, and junior tight end Joe Halahuni.
Oregon State also has some newcomers that, thus far in summer practices, look like they fit right in. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz saw brief field time last season while serving as the back-up for current New Orleans Saints quarterback Sean Canfield.
However, he has progressed nicely since joining the squad last season, and has apparently emerged as the front-runner for the starting quarterback spot. He will have plenty of targets to choose from, including senior James Rodgers and sophomores Jordan Bishop, Danny Evans, Brett Ackerman, and junior Darrell Catchings.
The Beavs offensive play-calling features a difficult-to-read fly sweep and an effectively deceptive screen pass. If Katz can command this high-powered offense while making quick decisions and line of scrimmage reads, he may be at the reigns of a conference front-runner.
Dam Stingy Defense
The Beavers' defensive front will be led by senior defensive tackle Stephen Paea. The 6'1" Los Altos, CA native is also a candidate for numerous awards, and will be the main stick in the Beaver Dam.
Oregon State's secondary, on the other hand, may be in question this season. Over the last few seasons, the team has bred several NFL products, including Al Afalava of the Chicago Bears, Sabby Piscitelli of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Brandon Hughes of the San Diego Chargers. With talent leaving for the draft and seniors graduating, the secondary must once again rebuild and be the fail-safe of a young defense.
Senior Cornerback James Dockery will provide leadership and knowledgeable insight for his young teammates. Look for him to make a name for himself this season while improving on his draft stock.
The Match Up on Paper
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While Oregon State has plenty of offensive options, so does TCU. The Horned Frogs will be returning junior wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. He had 44 receptions last season while collecting all two touchdowns and 532 yards.
Comparing Oregon State's top receiver to TCU's, it's no comparison. James Rodgers' numbers dwarf those of Kerley's. Rodgers had 91 receptions for 1,034 yards, while scoring nine TDs.
While Oregon State has a highly touted receiver, the Horned Frogs may have the edge at quarterback.
Junior quarterback Andy Dalton had 2009 numbers that look similar to Sean Canfield's numbers for the Beavers last season. He had a completion percentage of 61.6, while throwing for over 2,700 yards and 23 TDs.
Dalton is an experienced winner with an above-average awareness and sizable football knowledge. If the Beavers defense underestimates him, he may prove why TCU is ranked in the top 10 in the country.
Oregon State has the edge in head-to-head rushing statistics as well. Jacquizz Rodgers out-rushed TCU starter Joseph Turner by nearly double. While Rodgers rushed for 1,440 on 273 carries, a 5.3 yards per carry average, Turner was largely insignificant with just 147 carries and 754 yards. To be fair, Turner's average per carry is close to Rodgers' at 5.1, but he is not a major piece of the Purple machine's offense.
Breaking it down: Look for Oregon State to bring a combination of shifty running with deceptive passing on offense. The Beavers' secondary will be tested all game by the pass attack of TCU. The key to the game will be the Beavers' ability to keep TCU to small passing plays while shutting down the running game in short yardage situations.
TCU will have to slow down the speedy Rodgers, while reading Oregon State's attempts at deception with James Rodgers.
OSU's Stephen Paea will have to have a career game against the run on third downs, and TCU's Andy Dalton will have to be accurate and timely.
The Bold Prediction: I'm reversing my earlier prediction stating TCU will win this one. Readers may think I'm crazy, but it's possible Oregon State's secondary will be well-prepared to stifle Dalton's passing attack, while Jacquizz Rodgers rushes for just over 100 yards and a touchdown. The Beavers will squeak this one out, causing a major stir in the opening week rankings.
Final score: Oregon State 31, TCU 27