The Dam Links 10/1/2013: Welcome to October

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive year, Oregon State went undefeated in September. Luckily, football begins in September and any games in August are just exhibition games..... right?

There's an overlooked stat that has somehow gotten very little pub, likely due to the EWU loss looming over the season like one of those ships from Independence Day. In the last two years, Riley's Beavers have shown a definite improvement in one important area of Riley's program: early season success on the road. In the first eleven years of Mike Riley's tenures at OSU, he went 1-15 in September road games, the only win coming in a close game on a questionable call at a terrible UNLV team in 2009. However, in the last two years, the Beavers are 4-0 on the road in September. Last year's wins over UCLA and Arizona seem better than Utah and San Diego State, but I still think this is an important improvement in the direction of the program. Hopefully, it's the start of things to come rather than a fluke.

Looking ahead, in 2014, we know we'll be going to Hawaii, so five in a row is definitely a possibility. Depending on the schedule, there will likely be another Pac-12 game in there as well (Colorado, Stanford, Washington, USC will be next year's conference road games). Also possible is another non-conference road game if Bob deCarolis decides to take advantage of a possible 13th game, since playing at Hawaii allows a team to play an extra game a year. It wouldn't surprise me to see some TV network put together a game sometime in the spring between OSU and another decent program. OSU has expressed a lack of interest in playing the game before, but it's funny what happens when big dollar figures start getting thrown around.

Sean Mannion leads the nation in: passing TD's, passing yards, passing yards per game, points responsible for, points responsible for per game, and total offense. Brandin Cooks leads the nation in receiving TD's, receiving yards, receptions per game, and he leads the nation in total yards per game by non-quarterbacks. He is second in the nation in receiving yards per game, behind Colorado's Paul Richardson, who had almost all of his 70 yards last Saturday against Oregon State's backups in garbage time. Sean Martin is still tied for the national lead in interceptions with four, although not in interceptions per game since others have four INTs in four games.

ESPN's Pac-12 blog's Power Rankings and Bowl Projections this week put the Beavers back in the top half of the conference. #6 in the conference, and in the Emerald Kraft Mac & Cheese Fight Hunger Bowl against BYU. Seems reasonable, if not ideal. I predicted 8-4 and the Sun Bowl before the season, and I'm starting to lean back that way as we get further and further away from the Eastern Washington debacle. Speaking of which, the Eagles lost again, and are now 2-2 and have fallen to 6th in the FCS poll. That's not what I want to see from them at this point.

The Sporting News' power rankings put the Beavs all the way up to #5, ahead of Arizona State. I'm not sure I'm ready to go there yet, but I think there's a big drop between #4 and #5, and you could make a case for several teams in the #5 spot.

Sean Mannion is the Pac-12 offensive player of the week, which should come as no surprise. That's 4 Beaver players in 5 weeks to win player of the week awards. I think there's a good chance Cooks or Mannion pick up another one or two between now and the end of the season. Special kuods to Trevor Romaine for recovering a fumble, a rare feat by a kicker, particularly on a non-onside kick. He was very excited coming off the field, which is always fun to see.

Mike Riley feels that the bye week is coming at a perfect time, which should help the Beavers get over a few nagging bumps and bruises. For the first time since the start of fall camp, the offensive line is feeling comfortable-- 15 offensive linemen put on the pads for practice today.

USC needs a new coach. Guess whose name is on the list of potential candidates? The same guy who is on USC's short list every time they need a new coach -- Mike Riley. Considering Riley has turned down USC before, it seems unlikely, but his name will probably periodically surface until someone else gets the gig. Jon Gruden is another rumored name, and is a scary choice, that's not someone I want to see coaching in the Pac-12.

One statistician has Johnny Hekker as the best punter in the NFL through 4 weeks. In case you weren't able to pull yourself away from Breaking Bad's finale on Sunday night, you missed Jacquizz Rodgers leading the Falcons in rushing attempts and yardage. However, he doesn't have any touchdowns and his 3.5 YPC isn't turning any heads. Markus Wheaton caught his first three NFL receptions last week in London against the Vikings.

The Heinrich Tailgater podcast for this week is up.  The Beavers might take a week off for a bye, but these guys don't.

If you were at the game Saturday and actually sat through the halftime downpour, you got to see the OSU baseball, wrestling, and gymnastics teams get their conference title rings. The wrestling team looks like they have a great chance to do it again this year, and they are ranked #6 in the preseason poll.

Matt Boyd is participating in a live chat Wednesday at noon. He had a 2.63 ERA in 24 professional innings this year, splitting time between the Blue Jay's single A affiliates Lansing and Dunedin.

Mens' soccer continues to do well, beating Northwest Christian 5-0 in Corvallis last weekend. Why are they playing Northwest Christian, you might ask? Haven't the foggiest! Women's soccer managed a 1-1 tie against a school you might have heard of -- the University of Washington Huskies.

Volleyball struggled against the WSU Cougars and, despite rallying from 2 sets down to tie it, fell in five sets.

OSU Athetics put together a 3-minute highlight package from Saturday's game:

And for those of you who haven't seen Breaking Bad and are sick of everybody talking about it, this video's for you. It probably explains a lot.

Since it's a bye week, we'll acknowledge it by having a non-OSU related poll question. Cast your vote below, and if I missed something, leave it in the comments.

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