After a tough loss last week to conference foe Stanford,
the Beavers now look to bounce back against Big Ten power, Penn State. The
Beavers have a national stage to show the country what they are made of...can
they do it?
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Beaver Stadium, State College, PA
12:37 PM PDT kick-off
Beaver Sports Radio Network, Churchill
Media's LaX Network (Spanish broadcast), XM Radio 193-195
STATISTICAL LEADERS...PENN STATE
RUSHING: Stephfon Green 10-89-2 PASSING: Daryll Clark 11-14-0-146-2 RECEIVING: Jordan Norwood 4-74-1
Playing in Beaver Stadium today won't make things any easier for the
Oregon State football team because the environment there will be anything
but friendly. The Beavers will likely play in front of the biggest crowd
(107, 282) in school history, the majority of which will be rooting for
No. 19 Penn State.
Today's matchup marks the first time the two teams have faced each other.
OSU is coming off a tough 36-28 loss to Stanford in Palo Alto last Thursday,
while the Nittany Lions routed Coastal Carolina in their season opener,
66-10. Playing in the largest college football venue, against a team that's
always strong and has a legendary coach in Joe Paterno will make rebounding
from the Stanford loss even tougher for the Beavers.
And playing in the East Coast time zone has not been kind to OSU in recent
years. Last season, the Beavers fell 34-3 to Cincinnati. In 2005, they
were crushed 63-27 by Louisville. So Mike Riley and Co. are aware
of the daunting task that lies before them today. At the same time, they
are looking forward to redeeming themselves on the national stage.
"This is obviously a big trip, a big game," Riley said. "It's
both very exciting and also very daunting. Our approach is that it's a
great opportunity for the Beaver football program. I think our team will
be very excited about this opportunity."
But it will be important for the team, especially the younger players,
not get too awestruck by playing Penn State. It's going to take a lot
of discipline and focus to avoid some of the sloppy mistakes that cost
the Beavers the game against the Cardinal. They will likely have to play
mistake-free ball if they hope to beat a Nittany Lions, a team that has
20 returning starters.
The Stanford game proved how valuable experience is too. Even though
the Beavers were the more talented team on paper, the Cardinal took care
of the ball and didn't turn it over once, because their veteran players
knew what to do in pressure situations. Stanford also returned 20 players?Meanwhile,
nine players were making their first career starts for OSU and it showed
often during the game.
"I think the first game always helps a lot of young guys, at numerous
positions," Riley said. "You would hope that the experience
of a game under their belt will carry over into their approach at the
next game. The talent is going to pick up for them, so they are going
to have to take it up to the next level, but that is what we expect to
be able to do."
No unit will be under more scrutiny than the defensive front seven, which
struggled to stop the Cardinal rushing attack last week. Stanford racked
up 210 yards on the ground, thanks to a stellar effort by Toby Gerhart.
He rushed for a game-high 147 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.
Defensive end Slade Norris, defensive tackles Pernnell Booth and Stephen Paea and linebackers Keaton Kristick
and Keith Pankey will need to improve from their starting debuts
last week against Penn State, because the Nittany Lions have a potentially
even more dangerous running back in Stephfon Green, who reportedly
runs a sub 4.3 40 time. He rushed for 89 yards on 10 carries against Costal
Carolina and is threat to take it to the house every time he touches the
However, the Beavers will be welcoming back senior safety Al Afalava
from his one-game suspension, and he should provide a huge boost against
the run. Most importantly, the team has time to look back at the Stanford
loss, learn and improve from its mistakes and will be focused on the task
at hand today.
"A lot of the mistakes in the first game are just simple things
that we probably won't do again," quarterback Lyle Moevao said on
Tuesday. "It just goes back to looking at our film and looking at
their film and just making sure we have everything down pat this week."
THINGS TO WATCH
1. What OSU squad will show up today? One that has left the Stanford
game behind and comes out firing on all cylinders? Or will there be a
hangover? A sluggish start would likely doom the Beavers' chances at an
2. Can the Beavers stop the run better? Penn State provides a
great test for the Beavers. If they can halt Green and Brent Carter, they
have made the necessary changes and improvements to have another strong
defense this season.
3. Will the running game get off the ground? The Beavers need
to get Ryan McCants more than four carries today, so he can use
his bruising frame to wear down Penn State's defense. Mix in a little
Quizz and fly sweeps to help McCants get going.
4. How much have OSU's younger players improved from Game 1? As
mentioned above, the Beavers will need to play mistake-free ball to beat
the Nittany Lions. So have the youngsters and new starters learned from
last week? If they haven't, it could be another long game for the Beavers.
5. Can the Beavers break more big plays? Hitting Sammie Stroughter
for a long touchdown or having James Rodgers take a long run
to the house would help the Beavers confidence and demoralize the home
crowd. A few of those can make the whole team's jobs easier.