Game Preview: Oregon State, Boise State Set to Tangle on ABC

No. 24 Oregon State at No. 3 Boise State 

Saturday, September 25, 5:00, ABC (Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, and Erin Andrews)

Oregon State will try to draw on their "Giant Killer" heritage Saturday as they invade Bronco Stadium and the blue turf in hopes of throwing a wrench into the national championship conversation. The Beavers are ranked No. 24 in the polls, but OSU fans know that much needs to come together to give No. 3 Boise State a run for their money. 

You see, Oregon State is a team that starts slow under Mike Riley, and this year seems to be no different. The Beavers are 1-1 entering the weekend and had a chance to defeat TCU in Cowboys Stadium. But in reality, OSU has relied a lot on luck in both of those games, and needed to get a lot better this week. 

In three of the last four years, Oregon State has notched a marquee win against a top-tier opponent. In 2006, they defeated No. 3 USC 33-31 and in 2008, they defeated the then-No.1 ranked Trojans 27-21 behind 186 yards from Jacquizz Rodgers. Both of those games in Corvallis, but the Beavers did beat No. 2 ranked California 31-28 on the road in Berkeley back in 2007. 

The Beavers have a knack for winning games like this. My concern? Those games, for the most part, came in the middle of the season, when Oregon State tends to roll. The 2008 win against USC came on September 25, but the '06 USC game was in late October, and the Beavers beat Cal in mid-October. 

Is this team ready to give their best shot against Boise State, on this years' September 25?

The statistics this year are far from stellar. The rushing defense ranks 110th nationally, the passing defense sits at 79th nationally, and total defense sits at #105. By contrast, Boise State ranks 7th nationally in total offense. 

The Oregon State offense is 108th nationally at 287 yards per game, while Boise State's defense is sixth nationally and allows just 224.5 yards per game. 

Boise State offensive players to know:

- Quarterback Kellen Moore. This is a player who has continuously proven himself every year. From his freshman year to his sophomore year, Kellen increased his touchdowns while decreasing his interceptions and limiting sacks. He threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns against Wyoming with a pick. On the interception: "It was a duck. Someone should have shot it."

- Running back Doug Martin. Boise State has a stable of running backs, and Martin is the bruiser. A lot of people thought D.J. Harper or Jeremy Avery would be the primary back this season, but so far it's Martin (Harper has been good for 70 yards per game, though). He rushed for 83 yards against Virginia Tech and 105 against Wyoming to lead a group of backs that gains 221 yards per game in rushing alone. 

- Receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis. You think BSU's running backs are good? We haven't even started talking about their receivers yet. Young and Pettis are Moore's two favorite targets, but thirteen different players have caught passes in Boise State's two games (Eight OSU players have got into the mix catching passes, by comparison). Pettis is a sure-handed receiver, while Young has the blazing speed that will challenge OSU's DB's. 

About the Boise State defense: 

Ryan Winterswyk and Shea McClellin anchor the defensive line for the Broncos. McClellin, a junior, posted four tackles for loss against Virginia Tech alone. These two players have the potential to do two things: make life miserable for Ryan Katz, and bottle up Jacquizz Rodgers and the running game. For that reason alone, the BSU defensive line has the potential to change the outcome of the game. 

But it's not just those two-- the entire defense is solid. Brandyn Thompson will have the task of shutting down James Rodgers. The Broncos only lost one player, a cornerback, from last year's team. No wonder they are seventh nationally in total defense, right?

Other things to ponder:

- If the game comes down to special teams, BSU has Kyle Brotzman who handles punting and place kicking. He's five-of-six on field goals this season but has missed an extra point. Seems comparable to Justin Kahut, not considering the punting aspect. Titus Young and Austin Pettis, Boise State has a solid return game. 

- Oregon State needs Ryan Katz to have a big game. If he plays well, that means James Rodgers is playing well. I think we can assume that Quizz will come ready to fight for a 100-yard game. That's why I think the passing game will be the most important part of the offense for the Beavers to establish. If BSU shuts down the passing attack, we're doomed, because Quizz will have nowhere to go if BSU can focus on the run. 

- Being successful on offensive and defensive third downs will be huge for the Beavers, and it's something they haven't done will so far. Defensively, that means not giving up free yards after the first hit or letting Kellen Moore scramble, which we he doesn't do well anyway. Offensively, it means gaining 3-4 yards on every first down. Oregon State needs to stay out of second and long situations as much as possible... because they tend to lead to third and longs. 

--Jake | (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)

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