OSU vs Utah
Game is in Corvallis at Reser Stadium, Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 4:00pm.
I wish I could put a gif of Bruce Buffer--The Voice of the Octagon / Announcer on here and somehow through long, excruciating, but worthwhile lip-reading, dub that gif to announce this match-up. While Oregon State versus Utah is not exactly a title fight; instead I think this game is a turning point for both teams in their season and that's cause for nervous excitement, no matter which team you cheer for.
Oregon State’s season record sits at 2-3 and they are 1-1 against PAC 12 opponents with their one loss to Colorado and their one win against Cal on the road. Ryan Nall sits on top of the offensive totem pole with 432 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns on the season. His status for Saturday’s game is questionable currently after sustaining an injury against Cal last week.
Utah’s record is at 5-1 on the season and 2-1 in the PAC 12. Their wins against conference opponents were over USC and Arizona, with their only loss to Cal on the road. In the PAC 12 they are ranked 8th in offense and 2nd in scoring defense. Last week Utah’s lead running back Armand Shyne was injured and will miss the rest of the season after recording 373 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns on the season.
The imbalance in this match-up are pretty evident when you line the numbers up. Where Oregon State relies on rushing yards, Utah excels at defending the run. Where Oregon State has difficulties with getting the ball downfield through the air, that’s where Utah’s soft underbelly is.
+Beavers: Offense averages 206.2 rushing ypg, and 115 passing ypg.
+Utah: Defense allows on average 230 passing ypg, and 118 rushing ypg.
Utah is favored in this game but they are playing against Oregon State on their home turf with some forward momentum going their way after they surprised everyone and beat Cal. Although that doesn’t guarantee the Beavers a win, it is an advantage they should capitalize on.
Keys To The Game
-If Nall is healthy enough to play, it gives the Beavers a slight edge, but not a razor sharp one as Utah’s defense is formidable against the run even with recent injuries to their backfield. Utah has also sustained several injuries to their rushing corps, so if both teams end up without their key running backs this game could very well be a mixed bag of old-but-gold and new experimental plays.
-The biggest foot up here for either team will be the performance of their quarterbacks. The Beaver’s struggles in the passing game is about as much of a secret as what goes on at prom night. If you want to measure how big of a deal it is for Garretson to be in sync with his receivers, well...how wide can you spread your arms? Oregon State HAS to find success through the air if they expect to win this game.
-The Beavers D-Line need to frustrate Utah’s QB Williams and the backfield has to put pressure on his receivers if they want to keep up with the tenacity of Utah’s own defense. On the opposite end of that equation, Oregon State’s offensive line has their work cut out for them again. Utah’s front 7 are a dangerous group and the Beavers will have to do as good or better than they did against Cal this time around.
*Random Factoid: Oregon State’s head coach Gary Anderson was Utah’s long time defensive coordinator in the past.
To come full circle on this article, I'll elaborate briefly on what I said earlier about this game being a turning point in the season for both teams.
Utah is tied at the moment for 1st in the Southern Division of the PAC 12 with Colorado and Arizona State. Losing to Oregon State has a chance of putting them behind in the running, which is not easy to bounce back from when your neck-and-neck with two other teams.
If the Beavers defense bends and doesn’t break; this could be a nail-biting, low scoring, defensive knock-around slugfest. Try saying that 10x fast. Oregon State has been staring down the barrel of the ‘prove yourself’ gun since the end of last season. Although they have been through a lot already, I think they have accepted that this season is going to be a hard road. They were predicted to lose to Cal and the same situation applies here against Utah. Keep playing with that chip on your shoulder Beavers! It suits you well.