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The Second Quarter Will Be Key For Oregon State

Oregon State will need to make a run through the second quarter of the season.
Oregon State will need to make a run through the second quarter of the season.
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Continuing to look ahead at the upcoming football season, the second quarter will be key for Oregon State.

That statement can, and probably will, apply to the second quarter of games, when relative inexperience and a lack of depth could lead to decisive developments against the Beavers, or a successful navigation of those waters could set the stage for Oregon State to be in the game for the distance.

But it will also similarly apply to the second quarter of the season, spanning the first half of October.

After a non-conference September that should see a win, and could well then see a loss, in the 2 home games that follow the opener at Minnesota, in one of the season's legitimate toss-up games, the first 15 days of October may actually represent the best chance for a winning quarter for the Beavers.

The month and Pac-12 conference campaign begins with a trip to Boulder, and then brings back to back home games against a rebuilding California team, and Utah.

Colorado Will Be A Competitive Contest

Colorado beat Oregon State 17-13 last season in Corvallis, but the game was obviously close enough to be winnable for the Beavers. The last trip to the Rocky Mountains produced a 36-31 Oregon State win. And the Buffs have the potential to still be at about the same degree of difficulty, with as many questions due to turnover as there are encouraging additions on Mike McIntyre's team.

And should Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau either not be able to return successfully from his lisfranc injury, or experience any after-effects, the effects of what should be an improving defense could be offset.

As such, it might be the Beavers' best bet for a road win this season.

Bears Beatable?

California will be half-way through replacing not only their star quarterback Jared Goff, but their top 6 receivers and a key back. Star-studded recruiting aside, even with senior transfer Davis Webb from Texas Tech taking over at quarterback, the Bear Raid may well be less of a bear to defend this season than last.

Further, defense has never been something associated with Cal coach Sonny Dykes, and departures of what little experience the Bears had at linebacker make it possible that any and all opponents can expect to have some considerable success moving the ball on Cal.

The home game will also mark the 125th anniversary of the OSU Marching Band, and the occasion should further fuel the home crowd to be a factor favorable to the Beavers.

The Bears, like the Buffs, could represent one of the more beatable opponents on the Beavers' schedule.

Utes Usually Tough, But Not Out of Reach

The final game of the three is likely the most challenging, against Utah. The Utes too are replacing their quarterback this year, and have questions about the other offensive tool positions. Running back DeVontae Booker, who has been a 1 man wrecking crew against Oregon State in the Ute's wins the last 2 years, is gone as well.

Utah is likely to have one of the better defenses in the Pac-12 though, even with multiple key losses on that side of the ball as well, and is likely the toughest of the3 second quarter opponents for Oregon State to beat.

But their offense isn't as likely as some on the schedule to post an extremely high point total. Oregon State took Utah to double overtime 2 years ago at Reser, and it was a 1 score game at halftime last year in Salt Lake. The final margin was only 15 points, still 2 possessions.

A win over a Utah team considered a dark-horse Pac-12 South contender would be a surprising upset, but at the same time, Oregon State and Utah usually play each other close. And close games are always winnable.

Setting Up For Things To Come

Doing well in this favorable segment of the schedule could also build some momentum for the stretch of 3 difficult road games in the next 4 Saturdays, whereas a disappointing second quarter could leave the team physically and mentally disadvantaged for those trips.

A strong second quarter will also determine whether hope, and road support, travel with the team in the weeks to come.

If the stretch, on the other hand, amounts to missed opportunities, the latter half of the season could become a trudge, one not everyone will be willing to make.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com