The Oregon State Beavers will likely face their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday against No. 3-ranked Boise State on the blue turf.
The Beavers are coming off a close call against the Louisville Cardinals,and addressed several key weaknesses made clear by the TCU Horned Frogs.
While the offense struggled for the Beavs against TCU, it came alive against Louisville, gaining 319 yards.
However, OSU will now have to go into Boise and play at the highest level possible, a difficult task entering a team's third game of the season. The Beavers are 16.5-point underdogs, and Boise State's offense has several weapons and diverse play-calling.
But the Beavers have some tricks up their sleeves as well: a running back with tremendous talent and a quarterback that is quickly learning the ropes and overcoming the doubters.
With that in mind, here are 10 reasons why Oregon State not only has a chance to win, but just may stun one of the best programs in the nation with a blowout victory.
While several major college football programs have never faced the Boise State Broncos, Oregon State has played them twice in recent years.
Both times the Beavers jumped out to two-touchdown leads, only to fall behind and be blown out.
While it seems EVERY stat and angle has the Broncos on top, no one calls it an "upset" unless the odds are in the other team's favor. By no means is this concept grounds for reasoning on its own, but familiarity helps when facing a juggernaut like Boise State.
OSU has two victories against Boise State, even though both were home games.
It sounds like a ridiculous aspect of the game, but past and present quarterbacks at Boise State have complained about being able to see their receivers in the blue jerseys with the blue turf as a background.
In the smallest way, Oregon State may have an advantage here, having the white road jerseys when they enter Bronco Stadium.
The jersey factor may be the only way the Beavers have an edge over Broncos senior QB Kellen Moore. Oregon State is ranked 79th in pass defense, so they have some work to do against one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
James Dockery will have a confidence boost in the OSU secondary, having sealed the victory against Louisville with an interception in the final moments.
With the same players returning for Boise State, under the same coach, in the same offensive scheme, head coach Mike Riley will have a good idea of what to expect. The Beavers will have to perform, though, and expect them to do so.
Last week against Louisville, the difference maker may have been the Beaver Dam stopping Louisville inside the 5-yard line. A stand on 4th-and-1 and a forced fumble and recovery drastically changed the face of the game.
If Oregon State can be just as stiff with no room for error and their heels on the orange paint of the end zone, Boise State will have to continuously make big plays, meaning the secondary will have to step up to stop the deep ball.
Believe it or not, Oregon State's defense looked better against Louisville than it did against TCU. The linebacker corps looked sluggish against the Horned Frogs but was much quicker facing the Cardinals. The numbers weren't there, but the effort was significantly more evident. Look for that trend to continue on Saturday.
So far after two games, James has been active on special teams, with large punt and kick returns. However, he hasn't factored into the offensive scheme, and his absence is noteworthy.
A major part of OSU's success last season was the ability to disguise James in the backfield with fly sweeps and sufficiently-blocked screen passes.
If Riley is watching game tapes from seasons past and the first two games of the season, he will surely notice James' impact on the game and increase traffic towards the senior wideout.
If the trend for OSU sophomore QB Ryan Katz continues, then Saturday against Boise State will be stellar for the young gun.
Against TCU opening week, Katz completed just nine of 25 pass attempts, and his lack of big-game experience was glaringly obvious.
However, against Louisville he rebounded by leaps and bounds. Katz recorded 15 completions on 26 attempts. His yardage wasn't noteworthy (142), but his passes were crisp, and his decisions were sound.
Katz will have to make Boise State look like Portland State to make any kind of statement. Against the odds, Katz will have a strong game while not trying to do too much. Maybe a few more handoffs to Jacquizz Rodgers will make Ryan Katz look like a superstar.
On the topic of trends, Jacquizz Rodgers is also improving. After collecting just 75 yards against TCU, "Quizz" recorded his first 100-yard game against Louisville.
He will have stiff competition from the Broncos defense, which ranks second in the nation, allowing just 53.5 yards per game.
The average yards allowed on the ground for Boise State is hard to gauge, however. They gave up 128 yards on the ground to No. 10 Virginia Tech, which features a versatile QB with Tyrod Taylor and a strong back in Ryan Williams.
The low yardage figure for the defensive attack of the Broncos is aided by a blowout win over hapless Wyoming. The Cowboys rushed for negative yards due to several sacks and the complete lack of a running threat.
To say Boise State's rushing defense is impenetrable is a bit of an overstatement, but saying it's a swinging gate is slander.
Look for Jacquizz Rodgers to run wild. If he doesn't, he probably won't run at all.
Now that the Bronco faithful are jumping out of their shoes at the title of this slide, here is the explanation, but the shoes will probably stay off anyway.
Riley has been quoted as saying he was ill-prepared when it came to the creative play-calling of Petersen in games past. The assumption, and it's a big one, is Riley has drawn up some big plays and defensive schemes to confuse the Broncos.
Boise State, admittedly, has tremendous talent and speed on offense and defense, so play-calling must be precise for Oregon State. The Beavers are talented as well, but to make up the gap, Riley will have some tricks up his sleeve.
Chris Peterson is 26-0 at home since taking over the Boise State football program. It is unlikely a conference team will be the undoing of the Broncos' home perfecto, so Oregon State poses the biggest threat to the streak.
The law of averages may not be greater than Boise State's talent, but it is a small side note against the overwhelming stats.
Senior cornerback James Dockery was just a freshman when he journeyed to Bronco Stadium for the first time. The Beavers were blown out, and it certainly left an impression on the fleet-footed defensive specialist.
Dockery was quoted by the Gazette-Times as saying, "I've been looking forward to this since I was a freshman when we lost up there, and Riley said we were going to get another shot at them. I remember that game very vividly, so do other players on our team."
James also remembers the style and patterns of BSU receivers, which may mimic the team of today under the same head coach.
These teams have become rivals, so expect the level of play to be elevated from kickoff.
Broncos fans are surely thinking, "This is crazy, there is no way we are going to lose, given EVERY major stat is in our favor."
The stats don't lie, but they do make for a damn good upset story.
All wishful thinking aside, the Beavers will enter Bronco Stadium with a mountain to climb, but one good play could follow another. If Oregon State can set the tone early, IF they hit the end zone hard in the first quarter, they may ride the momentum to a huge victory.
Catch this game on ABC, Saturday, September 25 at 8 pm Eastern, 5 pm Pacific.