Northwest Rival Washington State Visits Saturday

Oct. 18, 2004

Corvallis, Ore. -

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THEME: Oregon State looks to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when it hosts the Washington State Cougars Sat., Oct. 23 at Reser Stadium. Washington State, which plays three of its next four games on the road, enters Saturday's contest looking to end a two-game losing streak. The Beavers snapped a two-game skid with last Saturday's 29-14 win at Washington.

SELLOUT STREAK: Saturday's game will mark the 26th consecutive sellout at Reser Stadium (35,362).

THREE DECADES SINCE: The last time Oregon State defeated Washington and Washington State in the same season was 1974. The `74 led Dee Andros club defeated UW Oct. 12 of `74 in Corvallis 23-9 and won in Pullman Nov. 9 of `74 17-3. The `74 season also represents the last time OSU defeated all three of its Northwest rivals in the same year.

SERNA HONORED BY PAC-10: Freshman-redshirt placekicker Alexis Serna has been named this week's Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week. Serna broke the school record by hitting five field goals (5 att) at Washington, including a 55-yard boot (tied for 2nd at OSU) on the final play of the first half. He accounted for 17 of the team's 29 points.

SCHEDULE QUIRK: In one of those Pac-10 schedule quirks, Saturday will mark only the second time Washington State has played in Corvallis since the 1996 season. The Beavers defeated WSU at Reser Stadium in 2000 38-9 and lost to the Cougars in 1996 24-3. The programs have played in Pullman in 1999, 2001 and 2003, and did not face each other in 1997, `98 and `02.

TOUGH AT HOME: Oregon State enters the game with best home record within Pac-10 Conference play since 1999 at 16-5. Washington and Oregon are 16-6.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Oregon State and North Carolina enter the week as the only programs to have played four teams that are currently ranked in the AP top 25. The Beavers have faced California (#8), Boise State (#16), LSU (#17) and Arizona State (#23). OSU's four losses have been to teams that have a combined record of 19-4. Of the Beavers' remaining five games, only USC (# 1) is nationally ranked. Oregon State's schedule is ranked first in terms of difficulty by Jeff Sagarin of USA Today with fellow Pac-10 compatriots USC third, Arizona State fourth and California fifth.

THE SERIES: Washington State has a 46-39-3 advantage in a series that dates back to 1903. The Cougars enter the game on a two-game winning streak in the series as a result of a 34-27 win in 2001 and 36-30 last season. The Cougars rallied from a 28-16 fourth quarter deficit for the win in last year's game. The two teams combined for 12 turnovers. Beaver defenders intercepted Cougar quarterback Matt Kegal five times with safety Mitch Meeuwsen accounting for three, including a 45-yard return for a score. Meeuwsen has actually accounted for two touchdowns vs. the Cougars -- he had a 35-yard fumble return in the `01 game.

HEALTH STATUS: As of Oct. 18, sophomore tight end Joe Newton is the only starter questionable for Saturday's game vs. WSU. Newton suffered a left shoulder sprain against Cal Oct. 2 and missed the Oct. 16 game at UW. Backup cornerback sophomore Kellen Marshall is out for the season with a knee injury. Reserve Harvey Whiten, originally on the two-deep at strong safety, is out for the season after having surgery on his left hamstring.

MEEUWSEN IN THE RECORD BOOK: Senior safety Mitch Meeuwsen is the new OSU career record holder for interceptions with 16. The Forest Grove High School graduate had two picks at Washington to move him pass Dan Espalin into the record book. Ten of the 16 have come in Pac-10 Conference games. Meeuwsen is currently tied for second for active interceptions in the NCAA.

HASS ZEROING IN ON RECORD: Junior receiver Mike Hass is on pace to set a new OSU record for single season receptions. Hass currently has 46 for the season and is on pace for 84 -- the current record was set last season by James Newson with 81. He caught a school record 14 passes at Arizona State Sept. 25 and set the conference record with 293 receiving yards at Boise State Sept. 10. Hass is first in the Pac-10 and fifth in the nation for receptions per game at 7.7. His 116.5 yards per game also leads the conference and is third in the NCAA.

STRIVING FOR PERFECTION: Redshirt-freshman placekicker Alexis Serna enters Saturday's game 7-for-7 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.

FEAST OF FAMINE: Oregon State's leading rusher Dwight Wright is averaging 71.3 yards per game and 4.3 per carry. Wright has four carries in the 10-19 yard range, zero from 20-29, zero from 30-39 and four of 45-plus. Wright had a 55-yard touchdown at Washington, 49-yard TD at Boise State and a 45-yard score vs. Cal. He also had a 45-yard run at LSU.

RUSH STATS COULD IMPROVE...FOR BOTH TEAMS: Oregon State enters the week 10th in the conference for rushing offense at 73.2 yards per game, while WSU is eighth at 113.8. The Beavers rush defense ranks eighth at 135.7, while WSU is seventh at 132.0.

PUNTERS COULD BE BUSY: Washington State enters the game converting 37.8 percent of its third downs (7th in the Pac-10) and Oregon State is ninth at 35.5. The Beavers are second in the league for lowest percentage for opponents converting at 27.9 percent while WSU is third at 31.4.

BIG PLAY RECEIVERS: Oregon State's Mike Hass is first in the Pac-10 for receiving yards per game at 116.5 and WSU's Jason Hill is third at 99.7 yards. Hill has nine touchdowns, tied for first in the conference. Hass has four scores.

AIR DEFENSE: Sophomore strong safety Sabby Piscitelli is the Pac-10 leader for passes defended with 10 (3 Int, 7 brup) and his teammate senior Aric Williams is tied for third with eight (3 ints). Both are tied for second in the Pac-10 for interceptions.

OSU-WSU CONNECTIONS: Oregon State defensive line coach Greg Newhouse and WSU offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller were on the same staff with the B.C. Lions of the CFL in 1986 and `87. Beaver special teams coach Bruce Read and WSU assistant Robin Pflugrad were long time assistants at Montana. Beaver football operations director Ron Davis is a 1986 graduate of WSU and later served as a graduate assistant football coach and in athletic administration for the Cougars.

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 67.6 yards per game on the ground -- 10th in the Pac-10 and 116th nationally (118 teams).

PENALTY PROBLEMS: Oregon State continues to have issues with penalties and is ninth in the league averaging 79.5 yards per game. Maybe the most telling statistic is OSU's opponents have 21 first downs via penalty, compared to just 10 for the Beavers. While the 79.5 figure is high, it's down from 110.2 yards in 2003 and 100.2 in `02.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: Junior linebacker Trent Bray is second in the Pac-10 for solo tackles with 40 (Spencer Havner, UCLA, 46). He ranks third for overall stops with 65, trailing Havner (76) and Joe Lobendahn of Washington (69).

BALANCING ACT: Oregon State head coach Mike Riley hopes to see more balance in the offense in the coming weeks. The Beavers have 281 pass attempts through six games (47 per game avg.) to 173 rush attempts (29). The 108-play difference is by far the highest in the conference. By comparison, OSU's opponents have 204 pass attempts and 218 rushing attempts. OSU has scored 11 of its 15 touchdowns via the air. The Beavers are coming off their best balance of the season with 40 pass attempts and 36 rush attempts at UW.

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., 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 70 games -- Jonathan Smith (current asst. coach at Idaho) and Derek Anderson. During that 70-game span the program has participated in the Fiesta, O'ahu, Insight and Las Vegas Bowls.

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