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September 6, 2008

Beavers take on Penn State

GAME 2...PENN STATE
BeaverBlitz.com | Created by Raju Woodward

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?
KEY INFORMATION
WHEN
Saturday, September 6, 2008
WHERE Beaver Stadium, State College, PA
TIME 12:37 PM PDT kick-off
TV ABC
RADIO Beaver Sports Radio Network, Churchill Media's LaX Network (Spanish broadcast), XM Radio 193-195
SERIES RECORD First meeting
2008 STATISTICAL LEADERS...PENN STATE

RUSHING: Stephfon Green 10-89-2
PASSING: Daryll Clark 11-14-0-146-2
RECEIVING: Jordan Norwood 4-74-1

2008 STATISTICAL LEADERS...OREGON STATE

RUSHING: Jacquizz Rodgers 14-54-0
PASSING: Lyle Moevao 34-54-2-404-2
RECEIVING: Sammie Stroughter 12-157-2

OREGON STATE vs. PENN STATE

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 ball.

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."

BEAVERBLITZ.COM'S...FIVE 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 upset.

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.



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