The biggest game in Riley’s time at Oregon State looms for the Beavers’ program. OSU will take on Texas in the 20th Alamo Bowl in a game expected to draw large ratings and one of the best attended games in the bowl’s history. This game will also have a big impact on how soon Reser Phase 3 gets built and potentially the full scope of the project. Cody Vaz was announced as the starter after earning the nod in over two weeks of competition with Sean Mannion. Both are still expected to play and the Nicholls game showed that these two can effectively spur eachother on. If OSU sees as many as two interceptions in my mind it is time to give the other man atleast the next series. This may also be a decent plan for next year. Had OSU put Vaz in quicker against Wasshington, after the 2nd or at very worse the 3rd pick, the outcome may have been different. Ball security is always key in big games.
Riley stated before the season that he wanted 1800 yards rushing. Had we reached that level, and if it made the difference over Washington and/or Stanford then OSU would be playing in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s day. Instead OSU ended with 1514 yards and a couple games where they know they didn’t run enough. OSU ended with 3798 yards passing for the season. Vaz is starting against Texas largely because he has 1/10th the amount of interceptions and his TD to interception ratio is much better. Mannion stood taller and also was an effective leader for good stretches of the season, but Riley seems to trust his odds of not losing the game with mistakes a tad more with Cody at the helm. As long as he gets help from the entire team and is not asked to be too pass happy then it seems like a winning strategy. Storm Woods and Terron Ward need to bring their A game and come in knowing they will have to be productive. When OSU is balanced in its attack, the passing game opens up and isn’t predictable, allowing Wheaton and Cooks to best bust open a few big plays.
It also is paramount that even if they get down one TD that they not try to get it all back at once but stick with the gameplan. Maintain the threat of the run for the entire game and don’t let up with Woods and Ward in the 4th quarter like we did against Stanford. Let Wheaton run atleast a couple of fly sweeps as well. That can help get us into better yard and down situations since Markus is averaging close to 7 yards per carry on the sweep. There is no chance of an interception either. With Cooks, Wheaton, and Mullaney bolstered by a strong and purposeful running attack, these playmakers and the OSU offense in general will definitely have their openings for big gains. Texas has been suscpetible to the run in particular so if they start having to shore up the lanes then our speedy receivers will be one on one in space.
Defensively, Crichton and the corners need to play aggressively. Turn around for the ball and if you can’t, just get your hands around the catch zone without contact to the body of the receiver. Poyer, Murphy, and Reynolds all have been leaders this year and will have to continue to be forces on the field. If OSU can keep Texas to around the season average of just allowing the opposition 19.5 points a game, then I believe it will be enough for OSU to secure victory. Our offense has too many weapons to not be likely to score 24 or more points. The Texas QB, David Ash, seems like the type that can be flustered so well timed pressure should net us some key sacks and force Texas to punt so that OSU wins the time of possession.
I expect a great game and it will come down to having balance down the stretch and our leaders rising up to make plays and wanting it enough for the program. This is a game that will raise the OSU national profile if Riley and his players are finally ready to seize it as champions do.
OSU 27, Texas 23