A dominant Oregon St. win in the bay area that was expected and one by Stanford that wasn't expected to be so lopsided, not to mention Washington melting down in the Tempe heat, both literally and figuratively, changed the outlook around the conference a little bit., and gave rise to a some interesting questions we kicked around the BTD office.
What were the biggest positives to take away from Oregon State's win over Cal?
RVM: I think overall just that they were able to control the tempo of the game and get the job done. I don't know if I thought this was a "trap" game in terms of a loss, but I do think Cal could have smacked around the Beavs enough to get them off their game to lose some of the momentum they have been building upon lately. This then could have been trouble going into the huge game against Stanford. But the offense did what it needed to do, Mannion and Cooks looked amazing, and again the defense seemed to play pretty solid overall and they continue to be building some identity of late.
Andy: I’d say that the defense kept California out of the endzone until after Jared Goff was pulled, and the game was well under control. Even with the improvements made so far, no one was counting on that.
ConnorOSU: Like it did for the better part of the first half at Washington State, the Oregon State defense never completely broke in the first 30 minutes in Strawberry Canyon. Each of the three times the Golden Bears advanced into Beaver territory, they forced a field goal, turnover on downs, and missed field goal. Even against a depleted Cal offense, that was fun to see.
Were there any real big negatives to take away from the victory? Where did the Beavers look most vulnerable?
RVM: I think the biggest concern (and finally getting away from the defense as the first response here!) was the lack of a running game. Did not need it and it was sure fun to see Mannion and Cooks light things up, but just would be nice to see some sort of rushing threat. I think the other concerns around defense and special teams are there still, but for me personally it just was glaring in the Cal game that there was basically no rush game.
Andy: Injuries to WR/KR Victor Bolden (ankle) and FB Tyler Anderson (sternum) that might keep them out of the Stanford game were the biggest negatives. Bolden is expected to play, but speed and agility are the keys to his game, and whether he will be fully effective remains to be seen. Anderson's health problems are an underdiscussed component of Oregon St.'s relative lack of a rushing game.
And while the defense continues to improve, there was an all too familiar communications mixup that allowed a preventable 45 yard completion to Chris Harper that led to the field goal that prevented a first half shutout.
Also, Zach Kline reminded us that a mobile quarterback can move the ball against this defense.
ConnorOSU: Once Zach Kline entered the game, the defense once again proved they can struggle against even the least-mobile of mobile quarterbacks. Other than that, I don't know, I was pretty pleased with everything.
After some stumbling by UCLA and Washington, would you consider Oregon State the third best team in the Pac-12? Where would you place them in the overall conference hierarchy?
RVM: Hmm, I think they are playing better than UW but that is a bit of tough call since UW has gone through a very challenging recent stretch of football, so I don't want to discount them (still don't think they are a "titan" of the North yet, and this very much has been proven right these last few games). I think UCLA is still a better team than OSU.
Also ASU is a dangerous, albeit an inconsistent team, and again hard to compare them to OSU so far but they are in the conversation for sure and personally I give them a slight nod over the Beavs right now. So what is that technically, like putting OSU in a tie for fifth best with UW? Lots of opportunity for the Beavs to really move up that pecking order though. Going to be tough for sure but the challenge is all in their hands too for the games are there for them to take if they can do it, did I mention it is going to be tough road to close this season out on?
Andy: Oregon St. hasn’t encountered much defensive opposition or an opponent that can run the ball since Salt Lake City, so until we see what happens the next couple of weeks, I don’t think we can tell whether they are #2, #6, or anywhere in between. I’d average that out at #4.
ConnorOSU: No, just because UCLA struggled on the road against a top ten team doesn't mean the Bruins are "stumbling". I think the Bruins are still ahead of Oregon State, but if the defense steps up this weekend against Stanford, opinions will change.