It’s time to give the Oregon State Beavers football team some serious respect. No, this isn’t a sentence that has been typed much in the past decade, but folks, it’s real. Heck, let’s go beyond just “serious respect,” this team deserves not only that, but the rest of the PAC-12 North should take notice because the Beavers have the talent on both sides of the ball to run up the wins and threaten Oregon at the top of the division.
This notion was put on display for the whole nation to see, at least those who were willing to stay up until nearly midnight on the west coast. Saturday night’s 45-27 drubbing of USC in Los Angeles was not only a statement way to open conference play but a potential program-changing win for head coach Jonathan Smith who now has a marque win in his fourth season at his alma mater.
It’s not every day Oregon State wins at USC. In fact, it was actually 22,289 days since the Beavers had last won in the LA Coliseum back on September 16, 1960. But make no mistake, this was no fluke or massive upset like we’ve seen from past Beaver teams knocking off highly ranked Trojans squads in Corvallis. This was a sound beatdown in all three facets of the game. A big reason for that was the physicality OSU played with. The Beavers ran for a whopping 324 yards in the win, and it was clear to even the most casual of football fans that USC had no match in the trenches for the mighty Beavs.
158 of those yards came from do-it-all back B.J. Baylor, who continues to prove that he is one of the elite backs in the PAC-12. Baylor has the stats to back up that claim. So far this season, the 5-11, 205-pound junior has 422 yards rushing, good for 18th nationally. He’s also gotten in the endzone an impressive seven times already this season, 5th most in all of college football. So the Beavers have the running back to make some noise? No doubt.
But to make a serious run in the PAC-12, you need a great quarterback; surely Chance Nolan can’t be the one, right? Wrong again. Nolan is already somewhat of a Beaver legend just based on his first-ever snap being a QB sneak to beat Oregon last season. But he’s no one-hit-wonder; Nolan is a playmaker. The dual-threat gunslinger ranks inside the top-16 statistically in each of the following categories; Completion percentage, passing yards per attempt, touchdowns, and passer efficiency. He ranks 5th out of all FBS quarterbacks.
The signal-caller, stud running back, and marque win are all in place for this team. So is a solid enough defense. With all of the firepower OSU has on offense, they only need the defense to be decent, which they are. So far, Oregon State is holding opponents to just 21 points per game, good for 53rd in the FBS. Plenty good enough to help out Nolan and Co.
So with all of those things in place, it’s important to note that they have a fairly reasonable schedule. OSU’s next two games, against Washington in Corvallis and on the road against Washington State, appear to both be winnable. Both Washington schools have looked inconsistent at best and shouldn’t be a huge issue for the Beavers, especially if they can duplicate what we saw in LA on Saturday night. From there it’s Utah at home, a team dealing with a myriad of tragedies and controversies. And while the final two games, Arizona State and of course Oregon are both very difficult they also happen to both be home games and it’s no secret what can happen in late November in Corvallis.
So is it bold to suggest Oregon State can actually do this? Of course, it is. But save this story for November because maybe, just maybe the Cinderella of this year’s College Football season could be in a black and orange gown and holding a chainsaw. The Beavers are for real.