As Oregon State enters the Pac-10 football schedule, the program is reeling following a high-powered loss to Boise State on the blue turf.
Followers of the Beavers knew it would a tough to come out flawless against one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. That fear has been realized for OSU, going 1-2 in the first three games while facing two AP Top 5 teams (TCU, Boise State).
Coming into this Saturday, four Pac-10 teams are ranked in the AP Top 25 (#4 Oregon, #9 Stanford, #14 Arizona, #18 USC), and Arizona State is no pushover either. The Sun Devils too are victims of tough scheduling, having narrowly lost to #11 Wisconsin on a blocked extra point, and showing up well against Oregon in their Pac-10 opener.
Both schools will be looking to turn things around, and another loss for either program may spell the end of a Top 25-caliber season.
For the Beavers, another overall loss may spell disaster. The team will only see a tougher road as the schedule plays out, and a loss to unranked ASU won't impress pollsters.
Adding insult to injury, literally, the Beavers may be without star wide out James Rodgers, who suffered a concussion in a helmet-to-helmet collision with Boise State safety Winston Venable. Venable has since been suspended by the NCAA.
Despite their losing record, Oregon State is showing signs of life. Sophomore QB Ryan Katz's passes have looked more crisp as of late, and the Beavers offense has began to pick up the pace. However, the defense looks lost. Boise State QB Kellen Moore picked apart the secondary last week en route to around 250 yards before halftime.
Arizona State's offense features a similar passing attack. The Sun Devils are ranked fifth in the nation in passing yards, racking up 325 yards per game. Junior QB Steven Threet 1,228 yards and eight touchdowns in 2010, and the receivers around him have plenty of talent.
The bright side for Oregon State? Threet has thrown seven interceptions to compliment his eight touchdowns, including four against the University of Oregon. The Ducks forced Threet into bad decisions, a feat the Beavers will have to accomplish to keep the Sun Devils at bay.
Threet put up 53 passing attempts against the Ducks, and is the only major piece of the Sun Devils offense. If the Beavs expect to compete, their struggling secondary will have to put on a similar performance to the Ducks and make it count.
Additionally, Jacquizz Rodgers has been largely a non-factor this season. He began the year on the radar as a Heisman candidate, but has been shut down by two highly capable and speedy defenses. He will need to bounce back against a weak ASU defense, or the offensive load will once again be placed on the shoulders of Katz.
If Oregon State cannot defeat Arizona State this weekend, they will likely set the pace for the rest of their Pac-10 schedule, and it won't look good...