San Jose St. (1-1) at Oregon St. (1-1) / Reser Stadium / 5 PM PDT / Pac-12 Network / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon State returns home after an unsuccessful trip to the Big House last Saturday, where the Wolverines ran over the error-prone Beavers for a 35-7 win. Tonight's guest is San Jose St., who, like the Beavers, are coming off a road loss after a season opening win over an FCS opponent.
The Spartans lost their Mt. West Conference opener 37-16 at Air Force. The Falcons broke open a 1 point game with 3 4th quarter touchdowns, 2 of them coming 4 plays after getting interceptions (off of 2 different San Jose St. quarterbacks).
Oregon State jumped ahead of Michigan, scoring on the first possession of the game, when Seth Collins found Hunter Jarmon for a 21 yard touchdown toss 2 minutes into the game.
But the Beavers couldn't capitalize on several other opportunities in the first half, and then gave away a score just before halftime, after a penalty on a punt and then a bad snap on the re-play of the down, flipped the field, putting the Wolverines inside the Beaver's 3 yard line instead of being pinned on their own 2. The result was a 17-7 halftime deficit.
The 3rd quarter saw the Oregon State offense only ran 4 plays in almost 12 minutes to start the second half, and then went 3 and out 4 possessions in a row. As a result, the Wolverine ground game gradually ground down the Beaver defense, pulling away with a pair of 4th quarter touchdown drives.
San Jose State uses a 2 quarterback system in a pro-style offense, with both Kenny Potter and Joe Gray getting series. It worked well in the Spartans 43-13 opening win over New Hampshire, and had them right in the game in Colorado Springs, which was a 1 point Falcon lead on multiple second half occasions, before Air Force used an interception by both Potter and Gray to pull away.
Running back Tyler Ervin is the Spartans best weapon, topping 120 rushing yards in both games, and with 4 touchdowns already this season.
Tonight's game will be a White-Out, with the Beavers opting to wear their road white uniforms at home for the second time in 3 games, following last year's Civil War, and also the second time in anything close to modern history.
It's also the only Saturday home game this season in September, and one of only two, the Homecoming game against Colorado over a month from now on October 24, until in November.
It's the first meeting between the Beavers and Spartans since a 26-12 Oregon State win in 1997, the second win in former Oregon State coach Mike Riley's first year as the coach in Corvallis, and over a San Jose State team coached by Dave Baldwin, now the offensive coordinator for the Beavers.
Oregon State leads the series 4-1, even though San Jose State actually won the first 2 meetings in the series. However the Spartan's 24-14 win over a Craig Fertig coached Beaver team in 1979 was subsequently forfeited.
San Jose State got to keep their 17-13 win in 1982 during the depth of the Joe Avezano debacle. Oregon State got their first on the field win in 1987, a 36-34 win with Dave Kraigthorpe coaching, and Kraigthorpe also led the Beavers to a 41-27 win the next year, in the only game played in San Jose instead of Corvallis.
The next meeting in the surprisingly rarely played matchup (given the relatively close proximity of the programs) won't be until Oregon State makes their second ever trip to San Jose in 2020.
Oregon State made a few personnel moves this week deep in the depth chart, all designed to further bolster their defense.
Coach Gary Andersen announced that they were considering pulling the red-shirt off of freshman Elu Aydon, the 6'3", 340 lb. DT from American Samoa, though he subsequently backed down from that commitment after evaluating the week's practices.
Defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake also indicated that the Beavers will probably show more of the 4-3 front seen in the latter portion of the Michigan game, and hybrid LB/DE Jaswha James will probably have his hand down in a 3-point stance at DE more. Lavonte Barnett might be bumped to the second string at DE in the process today.
Junior FB/H-back Ricky Ortiz has also moved over to the linebacking corp as well; whether he sees the field at this new position today probably depends on the game situations. He's still working with the offense as well, and could be the first Beaver to be a 2-way player this season.
Storm Barrs-Woods, who dropped behind Chris Brown in the "OR' on the depth chart for starting RB, after missing the first half of the game at Michigan, and unwittingly igniting a media firestorm in the process, due to what only eventually was revealed to be knee soreness, is expected to be fully ready to go again this week.
The status of San Jose State LB Christian Tago, the Spartan's best defender, who left the Air Force game after a helmet to helmet hit, just before the Falcons put together their 4th quarter rally, is still an unknown, pending post-concussion protocols that will continue up to game time. He was listed as questionable late in the week. His presence or absence could wind up being one of the keys to the game's outcome.
Oregon State has opened as a touchdown-plus (7.5 point) favorite, and has trended up slightly, past 8 points on some boards. Those lines support the notion that the game should be competitive, with the greater depth of a Pac-12 roster, and the affects of a home crowd, eventually providing an edge against a Mt. West team that isn't and hasn't lately been one of the MWC's top half squads.
Building The Dam will be at the game, and back afterwards, with complete coverage and analysis.