Over the month of July we will look at the top college football teams in the nation and preview 31 teams in 31 days. Here is team #22 and the 2010 Oregon State Beavers Football Preview.
No. 22 Oregon State Beavers
2009 record: 8-5
2009 Bowl Game: 44-20 loss to BYU in Las Vegas Bowl
2009 ATS: 7-5
Returning starters: 15 (8 on offense, 7 on defense)
The Beavers return eight starters on offense, which will help make up for the loss of quarterback Sean Canfield. The signal caller threw for 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. He gave up only seven interceptions, tough numbers to follow.
Sophomore Ryan Katz and junior transfer Peter Lalich will battle for the starting job, and both have the talent needed to replace Canfield. Katz saw very limited playing time for the Beavers last season and completed 14 of his 27 pass attempts for 232 yards and one touchdown. He didn’t throw an interception, and will most likely get the nod at the start of the season.
The offense once again will be fueled by junior running back Jacquizz Rodgers. He ran for 1,440 yards last season and scored 21 touchdowns. He averaged 5.3 and should be in Heisman talks in the 2010 season.
The Beavers have a strong receiving corps led by James Rodgers, Jaquizz’s older brother. James caught 91 passes for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns. Jacquizz got involved in the passing game as well, hauling in 78 passes for 522 yards and one touchdown.
The offensive line was strong last year and returns four starters. They lose First Team Pac-10 right guard Gregg Peat, but return a lot of talent. They might have the best offensive line in years, and it is scary to think about what Jaquizz can do with a strong offensive line like that.
The Beavers need to improve their pass rush. They sacked opposing quarterbacks only 17 times last season, after being among the top pressure teams in the years prior. They are looking to senior defensive tackle Stephen Paea to lead the way.
He had three sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss last season. Paea will get help from senior end Gabe Miller, who contributed with three sacks and two tackles for a loss in 2009.
The Beavers lack depth at linebacker, after some unexpected events in the offseason. Keith Pankey tore his Achilles tendon in a February workout. He could be back in time for the season, but it remains unclear if he will be back at 100%. Pankey recorded 44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and three tackles for a loss last season.
Orgeon State will also have to replace starting middle linebacker David Pa’aluhi, who withdrew from the school to join the military. He recorded 77 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 6.5 tackles for a loss. On top of that, they lose leading tackler Keaton Kristick who was signed by the San Francisco 49ers after going undrafted.
The Beavers’ secondary returns three players in safeties Lance Mitchell and Cameron Collins as well as corner James Dockery. The defensive backfield was a weak spot on the team last season. They recorded only eight interceptions and gave up 23 touchdown passes.
Kicker Justin Kahut returns to the team after a strong 2009 campaign. He made 45 of 47 extra point attempts and went 22-for-27 on field goals. He was perfect from the 30-39 yard range and hit nine of 11 from 40-49 yards. He has head coach Mike Riley’s confidence and was allowed to try three field goals from 50+ yards. He made one of them.
Punter Johnny Hekker averaged 40.1 yards per attempt and forced 13 fair catches. Opposing offenses had to start their drives within their 20-yard line 19 times following a Hekker-punt.
James Rodgers returned punts and kicks and did well. He averaged 11.6 yards on punt returns and 23.3 yards on kick returns. He didn’t score a touchdown, but was solid in the return game.
Against the spread
The Beavers went 7-5 against the college football lines last season. They did extremely well as the road dog, going 4-0 ATS in that situation. Oregon State wasn’t as good as the home underdog, posting a 1-1 record ATS. They went 1-2 when favored at home and 1-1 when favored on the road.
The team did great against conference opponents, going 7-2 ATS. They went 0-3 against the spread when playing non-conference opponents. The Beavers are 48-35-1 ATS with Mike Riley as their head coach and have gone 68-48-1 against the spread in the last ten years.
You can bet on it
The best spot we see for a college football game picks is to Take the Beavers at home against Cal on October 30. The Beavers haven’t lost to the Bears since 2006. In their last meeting at Orgeon State, the Beavers outgained Cal by 107 yards and had 20 first downs to the Bears’ 11. They ended up winning 34-21.
Favor the fade
Fade the Beavers at UCLA on November 6. While they won the teams’ last two meetings, they have struggled in the overall series. Orgeon State lost five straight against the Bruins prior to 2008, and head coach Riley is 2-9 in his career against UCLA. The Bruins came close to winning last year’s matchup, erasing a 19-3 fourth quarter deficit and tying the game. OSU won with a 17-yard touchdown run in the final minute.