Pac-10 Opener Saturday at Arizona State
Sept. 20, 2004
Corvallis, Ore. -
THEME: Oregon State and No. 22 (AP) Arizona State open the Pac-10 Conference season Sat., Sept. 25 at Sun Devil Stadium. The two teams opened the conference slate last year with the Beavers posting a 45-17 victory at Reser Stadium. Oregon State is attempting to snap a five-game road losing streak, three of the five have been against teams that were ranked in the top-6 and all against 2003 bowl participants.
A DEVILISH PLACE: Sun Devil Stadium has not been a friendly place for Oregon State over the years. The Beavers haven't won in the stadium during the regular season since ASU became a Pac-10 member (1978 -- 0-12) and have lost 14 straight to the Sun Devils in the facility. The games have been relatively close of late with the last five contests being decided by an average of 11 points. The program has had one memorable experience at Sun Devil Stadium, when it routed Notre Dame 41-9 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Jan. 1, 2001. OSU had a chance to win two years ago, but after driving to the Sun Devil nine with 1:06 remaining, it failed to score and lost 13-9.
RUGGED SEPTEMBER: Oregon State closes what it is arguably its most difficult September schedule in the history of the program this Saturday. The Beavers will have played two nationally ranked teams (at game time) and a third (Boise State) that has since climbed into the top 25. The last time the program played two top 25 clubs in the first month of the season was 1997 -- No. 21 Stanford and No. 25 ASU -- however, the season started with a home game vs. North Texas. The combined record of OSU's four September foes is 9-3.
THE SERIES: Oregon State scored 45 points, the most ever for the program vs. Arizona State, in a 45-17 victory Sept. 27 of last year in a Fox Net national game. Beaver cornerback Brandon Browner earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week after making three interceptions. The Beavers used a 17-0 run in the second quarter to break a 7-7 tie to seize control of the game. Quarterback Derek Anderson connected for two touchdowns during the run, hitting Kenny Farley for 61 yards and James Newson for 28 yards. Newson ended the game with 124 yards receiving. Former tailback Steven Jackson ran for 105 yards and a score. ASU's Hakim Hill had 92 yards receiving and 115 on the ground. The victory marked the first for the Beavers since 1993 vs. Arizona State. Saturday's game will mark the fourth time in five meetings the two programs have played in Tempe. ASU holds the overall lead in the series of 21-8-1.
HEALTH STATUS: As of Sept. 20, Oregon State does not have any significant injuries to starters. Reserve safety/special teams player Dallas Buck is out due to an illness.
HOME STATE BOUND: Four Beavers expected to be on the travel roster this week are from the state of Arizona. Redshirt freshman defensive back Eric Anderson is from Phoenix, senior offensive lineman Brent Bridges is from Kingman (near the Arizona/California border), junior linebacker Chaz Scott is from Chandler and sophomore defensive lineman Ben Siegert is from Glendale.
OSU CONNECTION: Arizona State running backs coach Tom Nordquist lettered at Oregon State as a center in 1990 and `91.
MEET THE PUNTERS: Beaver punter Sam Paulescu and his counterpart Chris MacDonald could be in for a busy night judging from the statistics. Arizona State has allowed its opponents to convert just 20.5 percent of its third down attempts (1st in the Pac-10) while OSU has allowed 24.5 (2nd).
QUALITY QBS: Saturday's game features two of the top quarterbacks in the country in OSU's Derek Anderson and ASU's Andrew Walter. The two quarterbacks have combined for 125 touchdowns, 16,885 yards, 2,245 pass attempts and 1,162 completions. Walter is first in the conference for passing yards per game at 320.3 and Anderson is second at 305.3.
FAVORITE TARGETS: Arizona State receiver Derek Hagan leads the Pac-10 for receptions per game at 8.0 while OSU's Mike Hass is second at 7.3.
HEADS UP: Anderson and Walter might want to keep their eyes open for a pair of linebackers who have made their mark on quarterbacks this season -- juniors Keith Ellison (OSU) and Dale Robinson (ASU). Both are tied for second in the Pac-10 for quarterback sacks with three. Walter has had to deal with Ellison before when Keith was at San Diego State in 2002 -- ASU rallied for a 39-28 victory.
MENACING SAFETY: Sophomore safety Sabby Piscitelli is off to an outstanding start, after playing mainly on special teams in 2003. The Boca Raton, Fla., native leads the conference for pass breakups with seven and is tied (Matt Grootegoed, USC) for the conference lead for interceptions with three.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: Junior linebacker Trent Bray leads the Pac-10 for solo tackles with 28. He ranks second for overall stops with 36, trailing only UCLA linebacker Spencer Havner (46).
HEAD SCRATCHER: Oregon State has used two placekickers this season -- junior John Dailey and redshirt-freshman Alexis Serna. Dailey is 0-2 in field goals and 6-for-6 on extra points, while Serna is 2-2 in field goals and 0-for-3 on extra points.
PITCHING SHUT OUTS: Oregon State has outscored its opponents 20-0 in the first quarter this season while ASU has 16-0. Each team has scored first in the three games, which of course, makes perfect sense. OSU nearly had its first shutout for an entire game since 1983 vs. New Mexico Sept. 18, allowing only a touchdown via a fumble return.
CAN WE HAVE A MULLIGAN? Oregon State allowed more yards against Boise State (492) than LSU and New Mexico combined (416). Minus the BSU game, OSU would rank fifth in the nation allowing 208 yards per outing.
MORE BALANCE: Oregon State had better balance on offense last week as the team had 41 rushes and 50 passes. Prior to the game OSU was averaging 44 passes per game and 23 rushes. OSU will need to continue to improve on its 88.7 yards per game rushing average, which ranks 103rd out of 117 teams. OSU has scored 10 touchdowns this season, nine passing.
OPTIONS ABOUND: Beaver quarterback Derek Anderson has connected with nine different receivers through three games. Last year 13 receivers and tight ends caught at least one pass.
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 2nd 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.
SAGARIN RANKINGS: The latest USA Today Jeff Sagarin rankings place Arizona State No. 10 and Oregon State No. 29. The computer rankings list OSU as having the seventh most difficult schedule in the nation. Portland State has played the most difficult, followed by Louisiana-Monroe, Colorado State, Florida State, Marshall and BYU.
NO QB CONTROVERSY HERE: Oregon State has had the luxury of having just two quarterbacks start over the last 67 games -- Jonathan Smith (current asst. coach at Idaho) and Derek Anderson. During that 67-game span the program has participated in the Fiesta, O'ahu, Insight and Las Vegas Bowls.
ON THE TUBE: As of Sept. 20, OSU is scheduled to make four national television appearances. ESPN televised the Sept. 4 game at LSU and the Sept. 10 game at Boise State. FSN will broadcast the Oct. 2 game vs. Cal and the Nov. 20 Civil War. FSN NW will air the Sept. 25 contest at Arizona State. FSN NW will not be airing replays of all games this season, except for contests that are broadcast live on the cable network on Saturday. The regional carrier will air replays of the Oct. 16 game at Washington and Oct. 23 vs. Washington State, regardless of live television the prior Saturday.
TEAM CAPTAINS: Seniors Derek Anderson (QB), Jonathan Pollard (LB) and Bill Swancutt (DE) serve as the team captains this season. The team also elects one game captain each week.
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. The Beavers wore their 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.