- Date: Saturday, September 2nd
- Time: 11:00 AM PT
- Location: Reser Stadium (Corvallis, OR)
- TV Coverage: Pac-12 Network
The best outing of the 2016 campaign for the Vikings may have come in a loss on the last day of their season, where for the better part of four quarters, Portland State stood toe-to-toe with an Eastern Washington team that would go onto the semi-finals of the FCS Championship. However, their eventual loss to the Eagles revealed an all too common trend. Even in their best moments, Portland State was unable to make the leap needed.
The fact of the matter is that head coach Bruce Barnum did have the Vikings playing better down the stretch, losing three of their last four by only one touchdown and beating UC-Davis, but sports are a results-oriented business. It’s win or go home and Portland State simply didn’t win enough. It’s why even with a likeable incoming freshman class (who should provide immediate impact) the growth of this team could be the deciding factor in what kind of leash Portland State has on a coach like Barnum going forward.
The biggest change for the Vikings heading into the 2017 season will need to be on the defensive side of things, as Portland State allowed opponents to rack up 39 points and 478 yards of offense per game a season ago. In run defense, coach Barnum’s boys couldn’t control opponents at the line of scrimmage, which then left their secondary over-exposed on many occasions. An overhaul in both the mentality and personnel across the front-seven and in the secondary, is completely needed. That will be one of the major focus points of Portland State’s summer. However, on the offensive side of things, it’s more of a game of putting the finishing touches on a group that is anchored by some veteran talent and explosive playmakers. In their final five stretch of games in 2016, the Vikings averaged 39.6 points per contest but finished just 1-4. It’s time to start striking when the iron is hot for Portland State.
What To Expect
The early season psyche of this Vikings group will be something to monitor, as in Week One, Portland State takes a daunting road trip to BYU (which will be featured on ESPN) before then making their way to Corvallis just seven days later. And while that type of heavy scheduling may be a common occurrence to most FCS schools, that doesn’t mean a potential 0-2 start won’t severely damage the focus of a program hoping to transition out of the thick of things in the Big Sky. Simply put, if the Vikings get walloped at BYU, how focused will they be for the Beavers in Corvallis?
Overall, I expect Portland State to put up a solid fight at the Cougars, where even if things get away from them in the second half (another weakness of the 2016 Vikings), they’ll still feel confident and aggressive against coming into the showdown with Oregon State. However, playing eight straight quarters in two games against legitimate FBS competition is not something this team has in them at the moment. The strength of Oregon State is their running game, anchored by bruising back Ryan Nall, will could expose the Vikings’ defense from the get-go. In my eyes, it’ll be a long day at Reser Stadium for Portland State.
Prediction: Oregon State 49, Portland State 17
Players To Know
Za'Quan Summers (RB): After the team’s “Spring Game”, coach Barnum was quick to mention that Portland State “will try to get him (Summers) the football as much as we can” and for good reason. Not only are the Vikings a run-friendly outfit, but Summers may be the most talented one in their loaded backfield. After appearing in just four games last season, Summers is ready to take on a much more featured role.
Josh Kraght (QB): It’s quick to note that Barnum probably has the most depth he’s had in three seasons at the school but not neccessarily, the most game-changing of players. That being said, position battles are prevalent across the board. Kraght is a quarterback turned wide receiver turned quarterback again, who has led the Vikings through most of their spring activities.
Sam Bodine (LB): An extremely versatile player, Bodine has fought through some injuries and setbacks during his time with the Vikings, but he’s preparing for 2017 to be that break-out season everyone’s been waiting for. The top performer from the “Spring Game”, in which he finished with two interceptions, the junior linebacker is expected to lead the Vikings defense this upcoming season.
De'Sean Parsons (WR): Parsons, who is in the midst of transition from the Vikings basketball team to the gridiron, is a towering 6’ 7”, 200 pound athlete who could be one of Portland State’s secret weapons on offense. It’s unknown just how much he’ll contribute until he gets some more football experience under his belt but Barnum has seemingly taken a liking to the tall target through the spring period.
More Opponents Previews?
Day-by-day over the next two weeks, we’ll be taking a look at all over Oregon State football’s upcoming opponents for the 2017 season. Links to all the other teams previews can be found below.
- Game 1: Colorado State Rams
- Game 2: Portland State Vikings
- Game 3: Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Game 4: Washington State Cougars
- Game 5: Washington Huskies
- Game 6: USC Trojans
- Game 7: Colorado Buffaloes
- Game 8: Stanford Cardinal
- Game 9: California Golden Bears
- Game 10: Arizona Wildcats
- Game 11: Arizona State Sun Devils
- Game 12: Oregon Ducks