Beavers Travel to Phoenix to Participate in the Insight Bowl
Dec. 20, 2004
THEME: For the fifth time in six years Oregon State will participate in a bowl game and this will be the second appearance in the Insight Bowl. The Beavers enter the game with an overall bowl record of 6-4. Notre Dame is making its 26th bowl appearance.
LAST TIME AT THE INSIGHT: Pittsburgh outscored Oregon State 28-3 in the second half and won the Dec. 26, 2002 game 38-13. James Newson's 65-yard pass from Derek Anderson proved to be the only touchdown of the game for the Beavers. Anderson passed for 319 yards, completing 21 of 45 attempts. Anderson was one of five current Beavers to start in the game, joining center Matt Brock, offensive tackle Doug Nienhuis, defensive end Bill Swancutt, and free safety Mitch Meeuwsen. Other current players who participated include Aric Williams (CB), Adam Rothenfluh (QB), Mike Hass (WR), Dwight Wright (TB), Jonathan Pollard (LB), Trent Bray (LB), Chaz Scott (LB), Jeremy Weldon (special teams) and Pat Loney (TE).
THE SERIES VS. NOTRE DAME: The two programs have met only once, playing in the 2001 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The Beavers defeated the Irish 41-9 and would eventually finish the season No. 4 in the nation. Several current Beavers were on the roster for the Fiesta Bowl, but were being redshirted. They include center Matt Brock, receiver George Gillett, free safety Mitch Meeuwsen, offensive tackle Doug Nienhuis, linebacker Jonathan Pollard and tailback Dwight Wright.
WINNING REGULAR SEASON: Oregon State has posted a winning regular season the last three years, the best run for the program since posting five straight between 1966-70.
PAC-10 VICTORIES: Oregon State's five victories within Pac-10 Conference play is its second-highest total ever. The program won seven games in 2000 on its way to an appearance in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. OSU also won five games in 1968 in what was then known as the Pac-8 Conference.
THEIR LAST GAME: Fifteen OSU seniors will be playing their final game for Oregon State. These 15 seniors have combined for 230 starts and most will have now played in three bowl games -- Insight (twice) and Las Vegas. A look at this year's class:
NORTHWEST TITLE: A major factor in Oregon State being bowl eligible was its mythical Northwest Championship. The Beavers defeated Washington, Washington State and Oregon for the first time in the same season since 1974. Former Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel claimed Washington as the 'Northwest Champions' last year.
RED ZONE CONVERSIONS: Oregon State has scored on its last 28 trips (15 TDs) inside the 20-yard line. The Beavers' opponents have converted just 12 of their last 22. For the season OSU is a Pac-10 best 86.0 percent when penetrating the 20-yard line. The Beavers also led the league last season at 86.4.
SPLITS THE UPRIGHTS: An unknown entering the 2004 season was at placekicker where the program was to have a new man at the position. Redshirt-freshman Alexis Serna, who was a candidate for the Lou Groza Award, has solidified himself as the next outstanding kicker and enters the Insight Bowl having converted 16 of 17 field goal attempts for a 94.1 percent success rate. Serna, who has twice been featured on ESPN GameDay, has been named the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week twice after hitting 5-for-5 (OSU record) at Washington and vs. Oregon. Serna's lone miss was a 41-yard attempt in a swirling wind Oct. 30 at Arizona. The Beavers have been fortunate to have good kickers over recent seasons -- Kirk Yliniemi was 19-for-23 last season and 15-for-16 in 2002.
FIRST QUARTER FORCE: Oregon State has outscored its last six opponents in the first quarter 53-13 and for the season has an 87-41 advantage. The Beavers have averaged 100.2 yards in total offense in those six games in the first quarter, compared to 44.7 for their opponents.
FAVORITE TARGETS: Beaver quarterbacks have looked for their tight ends often this season; in fact Oregon State led the Pac-10 this season for receptions by the position with 68. Sophomore Joe Newton is second on the team with 49 (missed 1 game), reserves Dan Haines has 11 and Pat Loney has eight.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: Oregon State quarterbacks have connected with eight different receivers for touchdowns this season -- Mike Hass (7), Joe Newton (5), Anthony Wheat-Brown (3), Marcel Love (4), Dwight Wright (2), Pat Loney (2), George Gillett (1) and Josh Hawkins (1).
OPPORTUNISTIC DEFENSE: Oregon State enters the Insight Bowl tied for fifth (UTEP, Va. Tech) in the nation for team interceptions with 18. Troy is the NCAA leader with 25, followed by Boise State (21), Kansas (19) and USC (19).
HIGHLY REGARDED SECONDARY: Oregon State's four starters in the defensive backfield earned All-Pac-10 honors. Senior free safety Mitch Meeuwsen was a first team selection, senior cornerback Aric Williams and sophomore cornerback Brandon Browner were second team picks, and sophomore strong safety Sabby Piscitelli earned honorable mention.
ANOTHER GOOD NOVEMBER: Oregon State is 13-5 in the 11th month starting with the 1999 season and 10-1 at Reser Stadium during that time. USC is the only program that has a better record in the Pac-10 during the month over that time span at 18-3.
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 75.3 yards per game on the ground -- 10th in the Pac-10 and 116th in the nation. However, the Beavers have faced four teams that rank among the top 13 in the country for rush defense -- USC (2), California (3), Boise State (4) and LSU (13). Notre Dame ranks ninth allowing 94.4 yards per game.
THE BAD NEWS IS: Notre Dame ranks ninth for rushing yards allowed per game and OSU is 116th for rushing yards per game (see previous note). The good news, from a statistical standpoint, is that Notre Dame is 114th for passing defense allowing 274.3 yards per game while Oregon State's pass offense is eighth at 304.4 yards.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Oregon State enters the Insight Bowl having played the most difficult schedule in the nation, according to Jeff Sagarin of USA Today. The Beavers have played USC (#1), California (#4), Boise State (#10), LSU (#12) and Arizona State (#21). The Pac-10 is well represented in the schedule rankings, Arizona State is fourth, Arizona is fifth, Washington is sixth, Stanford is seventh, and USC eighth.
HEALTH STATUS: As of Dec. 20, Oregon State does not have an injury that is expected to sideline a starter. Backup cornerback sophomore Kellen Marshall is out for the season after knee surgery in October. Reserve Harvey Whiten, originally on the two-deep at strong safety, is out for the season after having surgery on his left hamstring in September.
RECORD PASSING YEAR: Oregon State's quarterbacks have passed for 3,348 yards this season -- a school record for an 11-game schedule. The team needs just 67 yards through the air to have the second-highest mark in school history. The school record is 4,265 yards in 2003 (13 games).
INTERESTING STAT: Head coach Mike Riley spoke about how the team needed more balance on offense in terms of the rush vs. the pass during the team's first half of the season. Here is a closer examination of this year's statistics:
Wins Losses Rush Att. 239 124 Pass Att. 245 242 Difference 6 118
Rushing P/G 96.7 60.3 Poss. Time Avg. 34:18 27:49 Turnover Margin +10 -8
FIRST STRIKE OFFENSE: Oregon State has scored on its first possession of the game in five of the last eight contests and in seven of 11 overall. The Beavers failed to convert on its first drive at Arizona, but did on their second. Arizona, Stanford, USC and New Mexico are the only teams to not allow OSU to score on its opening drive.
TURNOVER REVERSAL: Oregon State ranked last in the Pac-10 and 103rd in the nation for turnover margin at minus-1.40 entering the Oct. 16 game at Washington. The Beavers have forced 21 turnovers over the last six games, while committing 12, and have moved up to a tie for fifth in the league at 0.38.
QUARTERBACK PRESSURE: Oregon State has 30 quarterback sacks for the season, 24 of those in the last seven games. The school's career quarterback sacks record holder Bill Swancutt has 11.5 of the 24 and has a school record 37 for his career.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: Junior linebacker Trent Bray is second in the Pac-10 for solo tackles with 59 (Spencer Havner, UCLA, 84). He ranks second for overall stops with 112, trailing Havner (125). Bray has accounted for double figures for tackles in six of the 11 games this season.
MEEUWSEN IN THE RECORD BOOK: Senior safety Mitch Meeuwsen is the new OSU career record holder for interceptions with 20. The Forest Grove High School graduate has had six picks over the last six games. Fourteen of his 20 have come in Pac-10 Conference games. Meeuwsen is currently second for interceptions by active players trailing only Wisconsin's Jim Leonhard (21).
AIR DEFENSE: Senior cornerback Aric Williams is the Pac-10 leader for passes defended with 16 (12 brup, 4 int). Senior free safety Mitch Meeuwsen (8 brup, 6 int) is third and Sophomore strong safety Sabby Piscitelli (8 brup, 5 int) is fifth. Meeuwsen leads the league for interceptions with six.
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.
PENALTY PROBLEMS: Oregon State continues to have issues with penalties and is 10th in the league averaging 81.8 yards per game. Maybe the most telling statistic is OSU's opponents have 42 first downs via penalty, compared to just 21 for the Beavers. While the 77.8 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.
HOME RECORDS: Here is a look at the home records within Pac-10 Conference action (Pac-10 games only) beginning in the 1999 season:
1. Oregon State 18-6 6. UCLA 13-112. Oregon 17-7 7. Stanford 13-11 USC 17-7 California 13-114. Washington 16-8 9. Washington St. 12-135. Arizona State 14-10 10. Arizona 4-20
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, visited Reser Stadium Nov. 6.
THREE OUT OF FOUR....: Oregon State has played 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 regular season 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 75 games -- Jonathan Smith (current asst. coach at Idaho) and Derek Anderson. During that 75-game span the program has participated in the Fiesta, O'ahu, Insight (twice) 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.