Nov 1, 2014; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers run out of the smoke on to the field before the game against the California Golden Bears at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports
For the third time in their previous four contests, The Oregon State Beavers will play in a 7:45 night cap; this time against University of Washington at new Husky Stadium. At 5-5 (OSU) and 6-5, and just two weeks to play in the 2014 regular season, there is plenty on the line for two programs fighting to relinquish the title of “underachiever”.
Earlier this week, Oregon State found out they would be without leading rusher Terron Ward for the rest of the year after tearing his meniscus in the 35-27 victory over Arizona State last Saturday. Ward leads the Beavers with 696 yards and 10 touchdowns during his senior campaign.
Stepping up into Ward’s place will be a the duo of Storm Woods and Chris Brown. Woods had played 1B to Ward’s 1A this year, rolling up 591 yards and 4 scores of his own so far. Brown, a sophomore from Fresno, Calif. has appeared in five of the Beaver’s nine games in 2014 with 90 yards and two touchdowns on 21 rushes. It will be an important game for Brown, who has always been a promising young talent, has spent much of his time buried on the depth chart, but has shown speed and evasiveness at the goal line.
Defensive tackle Jalen Grimble will take his first in game snaps since injuring his knee against USC. He’ll add to The Beaver defensive front charged with stopping Chris Petersen’s swiss army knife, Shaq Thompson.
The multidimensional Thompson has put up 428 all-purpose yards and a touchdown since making the conversion to Washington’s primary option out of the backfield. Stopping Thompson in the A-gap and containing him once he is off the line of scrimmage will be key to Oregon State’s defensive presence on Saturday.
By stifling the run game a la the Arizona State game last Saturday, The Beavers will force Husky quarterback Cyler Miles to manage the game through the air.
The Huskies are coming off a tough road loss to Arizona. A last second field goal sank Washington, 27-26, to close out a game in which the Huskies fumbled the ball 6 times, resulting in 3 turnovers. Oregon State will need to capitalize on the extra chances Washington provides during the course of the game.
Northwest rivalries aside, this game holds a lot of sway for both teams. Washington had high hopes entering 2014 as a potential threat to Oregon atop the Pac-12 North, while Oregon State’s air raid attack that produced the 2013 Biletnikoff Award Winner was looking for more than just another ticket to the Hawi’i Bowl.
The reality that is 2014 has surely been painful for both sides, but at 6-5 (UW) and 5-5 (OSU), a win is critical to salvage what little silver lining is left in the heap of scrap metal that is the bottom of the Pac-12 North. In a week of sub-par college football match up around the nation, Washington v. Oregon State will be one of the more competitive, fascinating watches of the weekend (albeit also the most overlooked by the national media).
Score Prediction: 34-31 Oregon State
Positional Prediction: Oregon State’s secondary causes 2 or more turnovers