After a 34-point loss to Ohio State over the weekend, the Oregon State Beavers are 0-1 on the year. Fortunately for them, their week 2 opponent is also 0-1. The Southern Utah Thunderbirds come to Corvallis this week as the Beavs play in Reser Stadium for the first time in 2018. This will be the first time ever that these two football programs have played each other.
For a better idea of what Oregon State is up against, we turned to Jonathan Willis: Underdog Dynasty’s resident FCS expert.
1. So over the weekend, we saw SUU get upset by North Alabama, a newly minted Division 1 program. What were your takeaways from that game?
There were questions about the Thunderbirds’ defense coming into last week, but I don’t think anyone expected them to be torched like they were by North Alabama. The Lions racked up over 550 yards of offense on this defense, and you aren’t going to win many games with your defense playing like that.
New quarterback Chris Helbig played well despite facing more pressure than he was expecting, and that’s reason to be encouraged if you’re a Southern Utah fan. Helbig kept the chains moving, and the running game had a good deal of success as well.
It will be interesting to see how Southern Utah bounces back here, especially considering how they lost. SUU was up by three late with time running out and UNA driving and had two apparent game-winning interceptions overturned by penalties.
2. This is a team that made the FCS playoffs at 9-3 last season. Will they repeat that success this season?
I think Southern Utah will finish in the middle of the pack in the Big Sky this year. This conference is pretty tough. Eastern Washington and Weber State are the two favorites and should make the playoffs, while Northern Arizona has one of the best quarterbacks at the FCS level in Case Cookus. Northern Arizona and UC Davis have already scored wins over FBS teams, and Idaho should contend after dropping down from the FBS too.
The Thunderbirds lost their star quarterback from last season, Patrick Tyler, and they are replacing the bulk of a defense that was very much bend-but-don’t-break in 2017. This is likely going to end up being a rebuilding year for Southern Utah.
3. In your opinion, what is the single biggest strength of SUU?
This is a very good offensive line. OT Marquez Tucker, OG PJ Nu’usa, and C Zach Larsen were all named Preseason All-Big Sky selections, and Larsen might be a First Team All-American at the end of the year. Tucker and Nu’usa are a bit undersized, but they make it work.
4. Who are some other names to watch on SUU?
The Thunderbirds have some talent for Helbig to throw to. Landen Measom and Ty Rutledge are names to watch at wide receiver, and SUU will try to get tight end Logan Parker more involved too.
is someone to keep an eye on when Oregon State has the ball. Ahanonu has received some Preseason All-America hype from different publications, and he is a playmaker.
5. Who wins this game and what’s your final score prediction?
The defensive line was awful against North Alabama, and Oregon State is probably going to do what it wants on the ground against this front four. However, I think Southern Utah is going to be able to move the ball as well, so this one should have a ton of points
Oregon State 45, Southern Utah 27
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