Halloween games don't come around that often, but when they do, things could get, well, spooky. Especially for UCLA, who walks into the Valley of Reser already the losers of four straight Pac-10 games. Orange and Black are the colors of the day, and the Beavers, of course, are already decked out accordingly.
And looking to make amends for last week, when things went bump in the night.
The opportunity to take a second consecutive win over the Trojans, and three of four, was there to be had, but USC made just enough Sportcenter highlights that a final drive that picked up a first down ran the clock out, leaving the Beaver offensive brain trust of offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, assistant Ryan Gunderson, and QB Sean Canfield on the phones on the sideline, planning the drive for the win.
If we got the ball one more time we would have scored. We were rolling on offense; we just kind of ran out of time.
The disappointing loss in Los Angeles was much more disappointing for the lost opportunity than it was for what went wrong, which wasn't much, considering the setting and opponent.
Canfield continued a run of solid efforts, completing 30 of 43 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns, and without an interception for the second straight week. Sean is completing over 68% of his throws, easily above the school record of 60.6 held by Matt Moore, and good for seventh best in the nation.
Jacquizz Rodgers had another 100+ yard game, and James Rodgers produced 194 combined offense of yards. Even more encouraging was the career best (so far) night TE Joe Halahuni had, nine catches for 127 yards.
This production, which generated 36 points, came as a shock to some, who were used to the USC defense that replaced eight NFL draftees, and still was allowing only 11.6 points per game, and had allowed one touchdown in the Coliseum.
Some still don't get it, but Pete does.
Following the OSU-USC game, at least one member of the LA area media questioned USC coach Pete Carroll as to why the Trojan defense had given up so many points.
Those guys are pretty good offensively.
Trojan Wide Receiver Damian Williams figured it out too.
We knew we had to keep scoring. They went down and scored like it was nothing.
Therein lies the best reason to expect a bounce back against the Bruins. Make no mistake, the Trojans defense is still stout, and did not suddenly fall apart. Oregon State's offensive production, despite the problems with three of the first half drives into the redzone that didn't produce touchdowns, should continue to take some of the heat off the Beaver's defense.
The Bruins, by contrast, are suffering the effects of no support by their offense. An offense ranked 109th. in the nation in total yards.
The Bruins defense has twice held an opponent under 300 yards, and allowed 303 against Oregon, yet UCLA's last two losses have been 45-26 to Cal, and 27-13 in Arizona.
The Bruin offense ranks ninth in the Pac-10 in passing, at 187 yards per game, scoring only 20 points per game, and in total offense, averaging 296 yards per game.
A traditionally tough opponent comes to town.
Last season against UCLA, Oregon St. exploded after taking a 3-0 first half lead for a 34-6 victory in the Rose Bowl, despite starting quarterback Lyle Moevao sitting out the game after suffering the shoulder injury that continued to hamper him until recently. Sean Canfield, who was making his first start of the season, completed 16 of 22 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, while ‘Quizz rushed for 144 yards on 31 carries for the Beavers.
The victory was the first ever over UCLA for OSU coach Mike Riley, who had been 0-5 against the Bruins as a head coach, after going 0-4 against the Bruins as the offensive coordinator for USC.
UCLA still has a 39-14-4 edge in the series, including 7-12-1 in Corvallis, including the last three contests, as the Beavers last beat the Bruins in Corvallis ten years ago.
Special Teams Need To Be Special
Prior to the USC trip, that wouldn't have been that much of a concern, and Justin Kahut did drill back to back 48 yard field goals. But then there was the missed field goal from extra point range, and the rare breakdown by the punt coverage team that allowed Damian Williams to make a 63 yard return for a touchdown. A play where, as Coach Mike Riley put it, "Guys ran down field behind each other. You don't do that!"
The miscues offset Jordan Poyer's brilliant 70 yard kickoff return, in just his second collegiate career runback.
But against UCLA, a outstanding performance may be needed just to break even.
UCLA's Kai Forbath, a multi-time Pac-10 special teams player of the week, who has made 19 of 21 field goal attempts, is the top kicker in the Pac-10, and Jeff Locke leads the conference in punting, with an average of 46.5 yards. Plus, Terrence Austin averages 27.0 yards on kickoff returns and 10.9 on punt returns.
Will the Bruins be "Haunted by Orange"?
When the Bruins come to town on Halloween, Beaver Nation should be out in force, with the crowd bolstered by Homecoming.
Starting with the parade at 9:30, and followed by the fall carnival and student showcase on Parker Plaza, plus the Homecoming barbeque and Beaver Nation tailgater at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center, game day will have a three and a half hour build up to the unusual 1:00 PM kickoff.
Horizon Airlines will make a flyover of Reser Stadium with there OSU themed Bombardier CRJ-700 jet over Reser Stadium prior to kickoff. Two flyovers in different directions, similar to, but slower than what the F-18's did for Military Day against Cincinnati will take place, starting at approximately 12:52 PM, eight minutes before kickoff.
With television on a two and a half hour delay on Fox Sports, taking in the festivities live and in person is the only way to not be left behind, and could produce the first sell out of the season.
Halftime will feature a show based on the Halloween classic "Thriller" by the Oregon State University Marching Band.
Notable alumni planning to attend Saturday include Sammie Stroughter, now a kick returner and defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Gary Payton, recently retired from the NBA, who led the Beavers to the postseason in each of his years at OSU.