Throughout August, we will be counting down the top 25 teams (as listed here) going into the 2009 season.Â Today, we travel to the metropolis of Corvallis, Oregon, which boasts the slogan “Business is Good Here”, calls itself a “bike-friendly city”, and is known as the “fifth smartest city in America” according to a recent study by Forbes magazine.Â So, it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
Dan Rubenstein hates beavers.Â All of them.Â Especially ones from Oregon State.Â We don’t want PETA dishing out any DDOS attacks on SolidVerbal.com, but in the interest of full disclosure, we just had to put that on the table.
Now, with that in mind, nobody would hold it against you if you chose not to root for Oregon State’s college football team after its pyrotechnic 3-0 victory over Pitt in last year’s Sun Bowl.Â (We’d totally understand — that game would’ve made Baby Jesus cry.)Â However, there are reasons to be excited about Beaver football in 2009, mainly because of the dynamic duo of Jacquizz and James Rodgers.Â Jacquizz led the team with 1,500 total yards from scrimmage; James was just as dangerous with 1,000 total yards; together their speed and versatility figures to cause many long nights for opposing defensive coordinators.Â That, combined with the impressive way with which Oregon State rounded out its 2008 season, and there is reason to be optimistic.
The main question, though, is who will be in charge of getting the Rodgers brothers the ball.Â Lyle Moevao led the Beavers last season in passing, but in recovering from shoulder surgery this spring, has given Sean Canfield the chance to steal his job.Â Regardless, coach Mike Riley knows he needs more consistent quarterback play in ’09 if he hopes to survive the meat of his Pac-10 schedule.
The Beavers pulled their season together quite nicely in 2008 after an extremely rough start with back-to-back losses to Stanford (of all teams) and Penn State.Â But after a win against Hawaii and a bye week to figure itself out, Oregon State pulled the year’s biggest upset by taking down USC by a 27-21 score.Â Despite a let-down loss to Utah the following week, the Beavers won their next six games before being blown out in the Civil War against Oregon.Â And then there was that Sun Bowl victory, but we should probably just agree to delete that from memory.
It will be interesting to see how Mike Riley handles his quarterback situation.Â Lyle Moevao led the team in passing in ’08; however, his 13 interceptions were troublesome and didn’t instill a whole lot of confidence.Â Both Rodgers brothers return, but Riley has his work cut out for him on the left side of his offensive line, where his team figures to be particularly inexperienced, likely starting a redshirt freshman at tackle.Â Defensively, Mark Banker has a bit of a project on his hands, especially coordinating a way to stop the pass, but listen for names such as Keaton Kristick and Stephen Paea.
Though the Beavers will be dealing with some inexperienced units, there is a distinct possibility they could start the year 6-0, setting up a showdown in the Coliseum with USC.Â Portland State, UNLV, Cincinnati, Arizona, Arizona State and Stanford are all very winnable games.Â But common logic leads you to believe that USC will be fired up and ready to avenge last season’s upset, and you should well expect a monstrous blowout at the hands of the Trojans on October 24th.
It doesn’t get any easier after USC, as the Beavs square off against a much-improved UCLA squad on Halloween, then on the road against Cal the following week.Â Both will be difficult games, look for Oregon State to split.Â The final regular season game (the Civil War) is anyone’s guess.
Oregon State has a knack for sneaking under the radar.Â It usually does this by suffering a bad loss early in the season and then slowly creeping its way back into the discussion.Â Arizona State, USC, Cal and Oregon feel like losses for the Beavers in 2009, and not surprisingly, all are road games.Â Throw in a random home loss just for good measure.