Oregon State’s non conference schedule kicks off August 30th and concludes September 20th at Reser Stadium, with one trip to the island of Oahu in between home games. Three favorable match ups will lay the foundation for a team facing the nine-week gauntlet of the Pac-12 season.
Head Coach Mike Riley and the Beavers will play host to the Portland State Vikings at 1 p.m. on August 30th in Corvallis. Its the Vikings first trip to Reser Stadium since losing to the Beavers on the opening Saturday of 2009, 34-7.
Coming off a season in which the Vikings went 6-6 (3-5), Oregon State should have little trouble handling their in-state foe. Beaver fans are sure to remember the disastrous starts of 2011 and 2013, a third loss in four years to an FCS-opponent would be catastrophic to Riley’s reputation.
Oregon State’s multitude of offensive weaponry and revamped defense will have an excellent opportunity to start the year off 1-0 against a reasonably less prominent program in the Beaver State.
The Beavers will then take the field on the island known as “The Gathering Place” for the second time in their previous three contests. Oregon State finished the 2013 season by defeating Boise State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, 38-23, and will take on the native sons of the Aloha State on Week 2 of the college football season.
The University of Hawaii Warriors surrendered 508 yards and 33 points in 2013 when the two schools met in Corvallis. Last year’s meeting also took place on week 2 of the schedule.
While Oregon State prevailed 33-14, Hawaii scored twice in the second quarter to knot the game at 14’s going into halftime. After a week 1 loss to FCS Eastern Washington, Beaver fans were delirious at the thought of another “slow-start” in 2013.
The Beavers battled back, and powered by Sean Mannion‘s 372 yards and 4 touchdowns, went on to outscore the Warriors 19-0 in the second half.
Hawaii posted a 1-11 (0-8) record in the Mountain West Conference in 2013. Norm Chow’s 3-20 record as coach of the Warriors is underwhelming, but a trip to the islands is always fraught with the danger of a team losing focus and perspective. Having hosted Washington the week before, the Warriors should be down 0-1. The Beavers will do well to take advantage of another cushy non conference opponent.
Finally, Oregon State concludes its 2014 non conference schedule with a visit from the San Diego State Aztecs on September 20th at Reser Stadium. The Beavers and Aztecs squared off in week 4 of the 2013 season at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, with the Beavers coming out on top 34-30.
By all means the best team on the Beavers non conference schedule on 2013, the Aztecs finished 8-5 (6-2) in the Mountain West Conference and capped off the year with a 49-24 victory in the Idaho Potato Bowl over the University of Buffalo.
It will be more of the same in 2014- the Aztecs are still by in large the highest caliber team Oregon State will face before entering Pac-12 action. Junior quarterback Quinn Kaehler tossed 3007 yards and 19 touchdowns last year, and will have his favorite pass catching target Ezell Ruffin to lineup with in 2014.
Oregon State’s defense took two big hits in the offseason, losing DE Scott Crichton and defensive back Rashaad Reynolds to the NFL. However, the addition of Michael Doctor to the linebacking corp gives the Beavs a boost at a position group that was inconsistent at times last year. How improved is Mark Banker’s defense? San Diego State will be the preliminary test before his squad goes head to head with the most prolific offensive conference in the nation.
While the Beavers have had trouble getting their feet off the ground in the opening weekends of Fall, I believe 2014 could be a year to remember. Oregon State should be 3-0 before they punch their tickets to SoCal for the conference opener at the Los Angeles Coliseum with the USC Trojans on September 27th.