Beavers hit the road seeking win in the desert

Sept. 28, 2009


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THIS WEEK: Oregon State (2-2, 0-1 in Pac-10) hits the road for the second time this season, traveling to Tempe to play the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1, 0-0) Sat., Oct. 3. The game from Sun Devil Stadium is being televised by the Versus Network beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday marks the 23rd consecutive live televised appearance for the Beavers - OSU will have at least 25 in a row as the Oct. 10 Stanford game is on FSN and the Oct. 24 game at USC will be on either ABC or ESPN.

SUN DEVIL STADIUM HEX: Head coach Mike Riley doesn't dwell on it, over half of the Beavers haven't played there, but Sun Devil Stadium has not been a friendly venue for the Beavers - minus one glorious New Year's Day night in 2001. OSU has lost 16 consecutive games to ASU in Tempe. The place hasn't always been such a demon; the Beavers actually won their first three games at the stadium - 1966, '67 and '69 - Mike Riley's father Bud Riley was an assistant coach on the '69 team. About that New Year's Day in 2001, the Beavers routed Notre Dame 41-9 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl behind head coach Dennis Erickson, who of course is now the leader of Arizona State.

SERIES: The series dates back to 1961 with Arizona State leading 24-10-1 (25-9-1 on field, ASU forfeit in '79), but Oregon State has won two of the last three games. The Beavers defeated ASU last season at Reser Stadium 27-25 as defensive end Victor Strong-Butler (now a Dallas Cowboy) intercepted a Rudy Carpenter two-point conversion pass with 21 seconds remaining. Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 133 yards rushing and Sean Canfield passed for 218 yards after replacing starter Lyle Moevao who injured his shoulder in the second quarter. Moevao's injury was later determined to be significant as he missed two starts (UCLA & Ariz) over the last three regular season games and had offseason shoulder surgery.

WELCOME HOME: There will be plenty of family and friends at Sun Devil Stadium cheering on the Beavers - local OSU players from the greater Phoenix area include linebacker Keaton Kristick (Fountain Hills), offensive tackle Geoff Garner (Mesa), defensive tackle Mitchel Hunt (Chandler), linebacker Rueben Robinson (Chandler), offensive guard Rory Ross (Phoenix) and receiver Markus Wheaton (Chandler). True freshman running back Jovan Stevenson is a graduate of Sunnyside HS in Tucson.

ALL-PURPOSE BROTHERS: Beaver junior receiver James Rodgers is averaging 181.5 yards per game for all-purpose yards (Rec, PR, KR) which ranks first in the Pac-10 and ninth in the nation. His brother, sophomore Jacquizz Rodgers, is second in the conference at 153.3 and 23rd nationally. 'Quizz' had 13 receptions against Arizona, tied for the second-most in Beaver history, and leads the league with an 8.0 receptions per game average. James, however, leads the Pac-10 for receiving yards per game at 88.0.

INTERESTING STATISTICAL MATCHUP: Oregon State's league-leading pass offense at 255.8 yards per game meets the league's best pass defense in Arizona State at 136.7 yards per outing (ASU leads the Pac-10 in total def. at 211.0).

'AND IT'S ANOTHER BEAVER FIRST DOWN:' OSU public address announcer Mike Stone leads the home crowd after every Beaver first down, and there has been a league-high 87 of them this year. Fifty-two of those 87 chain movers have been through the air, the 11th most in the country.

RED ZONE EFFICIENCY: The Beavers and Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 for red zone scoring, converting on 93.8 percent (both are 15-for-16) of their treks inside the opponents' 20-yard line. The Beavers have settled for some untimely field goals, as opposed to touchdowns on some trips that have cost them critical points, most notably against Cincinnati. On the other side, the Beavers have allowed their opponents to convert 80 percent when inside their 20, which is a mediocre fifth in the Pac-10 - but, all of the opponents' scores have been touchdowns (12).

THERE'S SOME BAD NEWS TOO...: Oregon State is last in the Pac-10 for third down percentage defense allowing 43.1 (22-51) percent, punt return average (3.4 yards), sacks against (15) and tied for last with ASU for sacks (2).

THIS LOOKS FAMILIAR: For the sixth consecutive season OSU has started the year 2-2, and in fact the last three years it has started 2-3.

TIME TO GET SERIOUS: For the past three seasons when the calendar turns to October is when the Beavers hit their stride. The team is 22-5 (82 percent) over the final three months of the season. But, that kind of winning percentage will be tested this season as top 25 teams USC, California and Oregon remain on the schedule, as do UCLA, Stanford and Arizona State - teams that are receiving votes for top 25 inclusion in the current polls.

HAS ANYBODY LOST MORE? From the start of practice, OSU fans knew there were a lot of vacancies to fill on the defense. In fact, the Beavers have lost 16 starters on defense over the last two seasons. Those starters account for four of OSU's top 10 players for tackles for loss and two of the top four players for sacks. Six of those 16 starters lost were drafted, including current NFL players and Beavers last season Al Afalava (Bears/starter), Keenan Lewis (Steelers), Brandon Hughes (Chargers), Victor Butler (Cowboys) and Slade Norris (Raiders).

SECOND BEST: Oregon State has won 30 games (lost 14) since the start of the 2006 season, the second best mark in the Pac-10 Conference (see boxed table). USC is the only program that has more in that timeframe with 37 victories against six losses (two to OSU).

GOOD IN THE CLUTCH: Oregon State has won 14 of its last 17 games decided by seven points or less.

COMMANDING FIRST QUARTER: Oregon State has outscored its opponents 222-75 in the first quarter over the last 44 games, including 187-51 in the last 20. The Beavers have allowed just seven points (Arizona) in the last five first quarters combined, dating back to last year.

NOT A FREQUENT FLYER MILE TEAM: The Beavers will stay close to the dam this year as the team does not have a road game that is played outside of the Pacific Time Zone (Oct. 3 at Arizona State is a Pacific Time game). The last time that happened was 2003 - since the program has made trips to LSU, Boise State (twice), Louisville, Penn State, Utah, Hawai'i, Cincinnati, Arizona (in 2002) and two Sun Bowl appearances in El Paso.

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