The Oregon State Beavers have a chance to take the lead in the all-time series against their opponents and to stay undefeated in 2014 as they host the San Diego State Aztecs at Reser Stadium on Saturday night. The Beavers and Aztecs are tied at 2-2 all time with the most recent meeting ending in a come-from-behind 34-30 Oregon State victory.
Oregon State is coming off their first BYE week of 2014 after consecutive wins over Portland State and Hawai’i to kickoff the season. A win Saturday would give Head Coach Mike Riley and the Beavers their first 3-0 start since 2012. Standing in their way is a scrappy San Diego State team with revenge on their mind.
San Diego State fought valiantly on the road against #21 North Carolina last week, but gave away two-touchdown lead in the second half to the Tar Heels, eventually falling 31-27. The Aztecs defeated Northern Arizona, 38-7, in week 1.
With the likes of UNLV (1-2), Fresno State (0-3), and New Mexico (0-2) on the horizon for San Diego State, its likely that Head Coach Rocky Long, a former Oregon State defensive-coordinator, has had this game circled on the schedule for some time.
The Aztecs returned two explosive runners and a seasoned veteran under center; all of which saw action against The Beavers in the 2013 contest.
Sophomore tailback Donnel Pumphrey is coming off back-to-back 100 yard rushing games and has already tallied 4 touchdowns for the Aztecs. Running along side Pumphrey is Junior Chase Price, a physical complement to Pumphrey’s elusive speed on the outside.
Senior quarterback Quinn Kaehler tossed 19 TD’s and threw for over 3000 yards in 2013. Although Kaehler is more than capable of efficiently leading the Aztecs into tough games, he’s been turnover-prone (2 TDs, 4 INTS in 2014). If The Beavers can find a way to contain the 1-2 punch of Pumphrey and Price, Kaehler could be forced to make plays with his arm, giving The Oregon State secondary ample opportunities to shut down the Aztec offense.
Critical to forcing that progression are the Beaver linebackers. Michael Doctor, D.J. Alexander and Jabral Johnson make up the most experienced linebacking corps in the Pac-12 conference and possess the athleticism across the board to stop rushing and passing threats from San Diego State.
Oregon State will have to tighten down the clamps on defense in order to retain control of the game. Sean Mannion has proven he can power the Beaver offense, but it’s anyone’s guess what could happen if the game turns into a shoot-out. Mark Banker’s unit needs to play sharp from the first whistle if the Beavers have any hope of gaining any notoriety from this contest.
Score Prediction: 35-24 Oregon State in a close one
Positional Prediction: Oregon State’s defensive focus on the running game will force the Aztecs to throw at some point. Steven Nelson will have at least forced turnover in the game.