Oregon St. middle linebacker Feti Unga decided this year's opener against Nichols St. was just the ticket to start a season of tribute to his mother. He will wear her maiden name of Tauimoepeau on his jersey for his senior campaign.
Reser Stadium, 12 PM / Pac-12 Oregon & Pac-12 Washington / KEJO 1240 / KEX 1190
Nicholls St. (1-10, 0-7 last year) visits Oregon St. (3-9, 3-6 last year) in the season opener.
There's no last year or last time to talk about, as the teams have never met. However, the Colonels' coach Charlie Stubbs is familiar with Corvallis, though he won't recognize Reser Stadium. Stubbs was an assistant to Dave Kragthorpe when he coached Oregon St. from 1985 through 1990.
Nicholls St. is from Thibodaux, Louisiana, and the FCS Southland Conference. Stubbs posted a 4-7 record in his first year, but then saw the wheels come off last season, as injuries piled up and inexperienced players were pushed into action. That's one thing about the Colonels that Oregon St. fans can understand.
The Beavers won their last start at home, defeating Washington late last season, and would prefer to recall that day rather than opening day last season, the last time they faced an FCS opponent. The weather will more likely resemble the warm day that saw a second half rally not quite deliver a last play of the game win for Oregon St., when Trevor Romaine's field goal doinked off the goal post, instead seeing Sacramento St. win 29-28 on a successful 2 point conversion in overtime. This despite a near record setting performance by running back Malcolm
A mostly healthy and much more experienced Oregon St. squad that's got a set receiver squad, a new running back, and no hint of a quarterback controversy, which first reared its head in last year's opener, will look to erase any lingering memories of last Labor Day weekend around Beaver Nation today, and there's no reason to doubt that they will do so.
One of the critical things to watch is how freshman center Isaac Seumalo does, as overhauling the play of the offensive line is crucial to a successful Oregon St. season. Seumalo will be making the first start by a true freshman at center for the Beavers in nearly 34 years, since Roger Levasa did it on Sept. 30, 1978, against Washington.
And its not just at Oregon St. that the entrusting of such an important position to a completely inexperienced person is news-worthy; there's only one other true freshman projected to start at center this week for any of the 124 FBS teams, Hawaii's Ben Clark.
It will also be the first game with Oregon St. coach Mike Riley again calling the plays, as well as the first game with the secondary under the direction of new coach Rod Perry. So seeing the play selection and the coverage schemes implemented by the long time NFL assistant coach, will make the game of particular interest even in the event that the Beavers take control early.
The game is also Oregon St.'s first appearance on the Pac-12 Network, being broadcast to those viewers in the state who have Comcast or Bend Broadband cable service, and to Comcast customers in the state of Washington. The game goes head to head with the Nevada-California game, which will be carried on both the Bay Area and National Pac-12 Network channels where available.
The game will be replayed on the Pac-12 Network on Monday, 9/3, @ 9 PM PDT, Wednesday, 9/5 @ 1 AM, and Friday, 9/7, @ 8 AM. However, with both Comcast and Cox not carrying the Pac-12 Network in most markets outside the Pac-12 footprint, coverage will be far below what was typically available in the days of coverage by Fox Sports' Regional Networks.
So the best bet for taking in the action, and for many, the only option, will be to be in sunny Reser Stadium.
Oregon St. has also announced changes to the game day pre-game festivities, including relocating the Beaver Walk, which will still start 2 hours before kickoff, to the south end of the Truax Practice Facility, instead of starting at Ralph Miller Way next to Gill Coliseum.
Also, Truax will be open to all fans starting this year for the 3 hours prior to kickoff.
Buildingthedam.com will be at the game, and be back after wards, with a full report, including an analysis of the changes to the game day experience. And hopefully, breaking down a win.
If your able to check the game out on the Pac-12 Network, or are relegated to radio only coverage, here's the place to share your thoughts on the new coverage, the Storm(y) new running back, and how much fun it is to finally have football again.