Road Game at Arizona on the Docket
Oct. 25, 2004
Corvallis, Ore. -
THEME: Oregon State looks for its third consecutive victory Saturday at Arizona and in the process battle back to an even record for the season. The Beavers have never won three conference games in a row under head coach Mike Riley. OSU hasn't won two consecutive road conference games since the 2000 season and this would be a first for a Riley coached OSU team. Arizona enters the game looking for its first league victory of the season before making back-to-back trips to Washington and USC.
RECORD IN JEOPARDY: Beaver senior quarterback Derek Anderson needs 54 yards to move past Jonathan Smith for career passing yards at OSU. Smith had 9,680 yards from 1998-2001, Anderson currently has 9,627. Anderson already is the school career leader for touchdowns passes with 64. He also will likely break the OSU record for total offense this week.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Oregon State is one of five programs to have played three teams currently ranked in the Associated Press top 25 -- North Carolina, Illinois, Penn State and Syracuse. The Beavers have faced Cal (#7), Boise State (#18), LSU (#19) and Arizona State (#20). OSU's four losses have been to teams that have a combined record of 23-4. Of the Beavers' remaining four games, only USC (# 1) is nationally ranked. Oregon State's schedule is ranked second in terms of difficulty by Jeff Sagarin of USA Today with fellow Pac-10 members Arizona State third, USC fourth, Arizona ninth, Washington 10th and California 12th.
THE SERIES: Arizona leads the series that dates back to 1966 19-7-1. The Beavers have won five straight, the longest current win streak vs. a Pac-10 member. The last four games OSU has won by an average score of 40-10. Arizona has visited Corvallis in each of the last three seasons, including last year's Nov. 1 loss 52-23. The Beavers built a 35-0 halftime lead and eventually led 45-0 in the third quarter. Former Beaver tailback Steven Jackson rushed for three touchdowns and added another on a 10-yard pass from Derek Anderson for the first score of the game. Anderson had four touchdown passes and completed 21 of 32 attempts for 308 yards. Former receiver James Newson had 100 receiving yards and one score. Linebacker Trent Bray, playing opposite of his father who was on the coaching staff at Arizona, had a game-high 11 tackles. OSU has won only once in 12 tries in Tucson.
Cumulative Stats from the Last Four Meetings OSU UA Rush Per Game 138.5 45.5* Passing Yards Per Game 262.0 115.0 Total Offense Per Game 400.5 161.0 First Downs Per Game 23.0 11.5 Quarterback Sacks By 17 9
*-23 in 2002.
HEALTH STATUS: As of Oct. 25, Oregon State has no starters listed as 'out' for Saturday's game. Backup cornerback sophomore Kellen Marshall is out for the season after knee surgery earlier this month. Reserve Harvey Whiten, originally on the two-deep at strong safety, is out for the season after having surgery on his left hamstring.
INTERESTING STAT: Head coach Mike Riley has been speaking about how the team needs more balance on offense in terms of the rush vs. the pass. Here is a closer examination of this year's statistics:
Wins Losses Rush Att. 127 96 Pass Att. 130 191 Difference 3 95
Rushing P/G 132.0 53.5 Poss. Time Avg. 36:17 27:51
FIRST STRIKE OFFENSE: Oregon State has scored on its first possession of the game in each of the last four contests and six of the seven overall (New Mexico).
TURNOVER REVERSAL: Oregon State ranked last in the Pac-10 and 103rd in the nation for turnover margin at minus-1.40 entering the Nov. 16 game at Washington. The Beavers have forced 10 turnovers over the last two games, while allowing three, and have moved up to fifth in the league with a 0.00 turnover margin.
PASSING CONSISTENCY: Oregon State enters Saturday's game first in the Pac-10 and seventh in the nation for passing offense, thanks almost entirely to senior quarterback Derek Anderson, at 295.3 yards per game. Arizona has used three quarterbacks this year and as a result is 10th in the league at 151.9.
LOOKING FORWARD: Former Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel claimed Washington as the 'Northwest Champions' last year by virtue of victories over WSU, UO and OSU. Oregon State has an opportunity to make that claim this year if it can beat Oregon at home Nov. 20. The OSU program hasn't beaten all of its Northwest rivals in the same year since 1974.
QUARTERBACK PRESSURE: Oregon State has 14 quarterback sacks for the season, nine of those in the last three games. OSU career quarterback sacks record holder Bill Swancutt has four of the nine and has a school record 29.5 for his career.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS:Junior linebacker Trent Bray is second in the Pac-10 for solo tackles with 46 (Spencer Havner, UCLA, 51). He ranks second for overall stops with 78, trailing Havner (82). Bray has accounted for double figures for tackles in five of the seven games this season. He is on pace to finish with 122 tackles for the season, eighth at OSU.
MEEUWSEN IN THE RECORD BOOK: Senior safety Mitch Meeuwsen is the new OSU career record holder for interceptions with 17. The Forest Grove High School graduate had two picks at Washington to move him pass Dan Espalin into the record book and added another last week vs. WSU. Eleven of his 17 have come in Pac-10 Conference games. Meeuwsen is currently second for active interceptions in the NCAA trailing only Wisconsin's Jim Leonhard (19).
STRIVING FOR PERFECTION: Redshirt-freshman placekicker Alexis Serna enters Saturday's game 8-for-8 for field goals, including a 55-yard effort at Washington Oct. 16. The last time OSU had a kicker not miss during the season was Jim Nielsen in 1984 -- 6-for-6. Nielsen took over the kicking duties during the season.
AIR DEFENSE: Senior cornerback Aric Williams is the Pac-10 leader for passes defended with 12 (8 brup, 4 int). Sophomore strong safety Sabby Piscitelli is second with 10 (7 brup, 3 int) and senior free safety Mitch Meeuwsen is tied for seventh with 8 (5 brup, 3 int). Williams and Arizona State's Emmanuel Franklin are tied for the conference lead for interceptions with four -- tied for fifth in the NCAA.
OSU-ARIZONA CONNECTIONS: Oregon State cornerbacks coach Nigel Burton and Arizona offensive coordinator Mike Canales and offensive line coach Eric Wolford were on the same staff at South Florida in the late 1990s.
TRUE FRESHMEN EARNING TIME: Six true-freshmen have participated in games this season. Sammie Stroughter has earned the job as punt and kick returner, Lamar Herron has been a factor as a reserve defensive back and special teams member, and Charles Burnley, Daniel Drayton, Alan Darlin, and Matt Sieverson have participated mainly on special teams.
RARE RUSHING WOES: Oregon State has been among the conference and national leaders for rushing offense over the past few seasons, but 2004 has been a different story. The Beavers are averaging 87.1 yards per game on the ground -- 10th in the Pac-10. The ground game has shown signs of improvement over the last three games as the team is averaging 121.0 over those contests.
PENALTY PROBLEMS: Oregon State continues to have issues with penalties and is ninth in the league averaging 84.9 yards per game. Maybe the most telling statistic is OSU's opponents have 27 first downs via penalty, compared to just 14 for the Beavers. While the 84.9 figure is high, it's down from 110.2 yards in 2003 and 100.2 in `02.
LINEBACKER U -- WEST COAST: Penn State has long been considered one of the best programs for outstanding linebackers and future NFL stars. Oregon State can argue it's the version of 'Linebacker U' on the West Coast. James Allen, a 3rd Round selection of the New Orleans Saints after the 2002 season is a starter; Nick Barnett, a 1st Round selection of the Green Bay Packers after the `03 season was the club's Defensive Rookie of the Year last year; and Richard Seigler was a 4th Round pick of the San Francisco 49ers following last season and is in the rotation.
THE ONE AND ONLY: Oregon State is the only program in the nation to play the two defending 2003 national champions. The Beavers traveled to defending Bowl Championship Series title winners LSU Sept. 4. USC, the `03 Associated Press champion, visits Reser Stadium Sat., Nov. 6.
THREE OUT OF FOUR....: Oregon State plays three of the four programs that lost just one game last season -- LSU, USC and Boise State. Miami (Ohio) also had one setback in 2003.
DIFFICULT SCHEDULE: Many have selected Oregon State's 2004 schedule as the toughest in the nation. The first ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll had USC No.1, LSU No. 3, California No. 15 and Oregon No. 25. OSU was in the 'also receiving votes' category with Boise State, WSU, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington and New Mexico. Collegefootballnews.com, the Sporting News and Fox Sports among others lists OSU with the most difficult slate. The combined record of the Beavers' three non-conference opponents in 2003 was 34-7 (.829) -- the highest percentage in the nation in a study conducted by Chris Burkhalter of the University of Houston:1. .829 Oregon St. (34-7); 2. .789 Iowa St. (30-8); 3. .769 Cincinnati (30-9); 4. .755 Arkansas St. (40-13); 5. .730 Georgia Tech (27-10)
MORE SCHEDULE NOTES: Seven of Oregon State's 11 opponents in 2004 played in a bowl game in 2003 -- LSU, Boise State, New Mexico, California, Washington State, USC and Oregon. An eighth opponent, Washington, was eligible but was not invited.
NO QB CONTROVERSY HERE: Oregon State has had the luxury of having just two quarterbacks start over the last 71 games -- Jonathan Smith (current asst. coach at Idaho) and Derek Anderson. During that 71-game span the program has participated in the Fiesta, O'ahu, Insight and Las Vegas Bowls.
NEW THREADS: For the first time in five years Oregon State has new uniforms. The Nike designed uniforms were unveiled to the public Aug. 23. The Beavers wear white-on-white on the road and black-on-black at home. OSU wore its accustomed white jerseys at LSU forcing the Tigers out of their traditional home color and into their purple jerseys.
RAISING RESER: Oregon State is in the midst of refurbishing its home venue, Reser Stadium. Construction is currently ongoing to expand the stadium from its current capacity of 35,362 to approximately 43,000. The $93 million project is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2005 season. Temporary bleachers have been built for the 2004 home schedule.