Oregon State Beavers
Head Coach: Mike Riley
2013-14 Record: 7-6, 4-5 Pac-12 Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: 38-23 win over Boise State in Hawaii Bowl
Odds to Win National Championship: +32030
Offense: 7, Defense: 7
After throwing for a Pac-12 single-season record 4,662 yards last season, senior quarterback Sean Mannion returns for his final season. Mannion is just 813 yards away from the school career passing mark and just 1,891 away from Matt Barkley’s conference record.
The Beavers have plenty of weapons surrounding Mannion despite the loss of wide receiver Brandin Cooks, with Richard Mullaney and Connor Hamlett combining to catch 92 balls a season ago.
Terron Ward and Storm Woods are capable of keeping the offense balanced with each player rushing for over 470 yards in 2013, while also combining for 720 receiving yards.
Oregon State allowed more than 400 points for the third time in school history last year, which is even more troublesome now that defensive end Scott Crichton has moved on to the NFL, as he racked up team highs of 11.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
Senior cornerback Steven Nelson is one of the key players to watch in the country, as he was tied for the Pac-12 lead in interceptions with six and was second in passes defended with 14.
The Beavers will likely be favored in the college football odds in their first three games, which could lead to a perfect 3-0 record before their conference opener against the USC Trojans.
The program does have a chance of making some noise this season due to avoiding UCLA this season, while hosting the Arizona State Sun Devils and Oregon Ducks. It’s most challenging road game would likely be at Stanford on Oct. 25.
It’s important to point out that the team has dropped five consecutive meetings with ranked opponents, but three were decided by eight or fewer points.
Mannion is a legitimate 2014 Heisman Trophy candidate, which will lead to some nationwide media coverage for the school if it gets off to a hot start.
Riley enters his 14th year on the sidelines and will turn his offense over to John Garrett, who is the brother of Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.
Make sure to become a long term subscriber for the best college football picks anywhere for the upcoming 2014-15 NCAA football season.