oregon state blog

Week 1 College football preview: Nicholls St. vs. Oregon St. matchup

Beavers 2012 opener POSTPONED

After another disappointing season, Oregon State enters 2012 as one of the biggest underdogs in the Pac-12. Despite their recent struggles, this is a team with a lot of talent and plenty to prove.

The Beavs will face off against the Nicholls State Colonels. While it’s not the most interesting opponent, it’s still one that OSU can’t sleep on. No matter what happens, it’ll be a fun way to kick off the 2012 season.

Matchup: Nicholls State at Oregon State
Venue: Reser Stadium (Corvallis, OR)
Game Time, TV: 12:00 PM (PST), Pac-12 Network
Date: Saturday, September 1, 2012
Weather: 81 High, 50 Low, Clear
Team Records: Nicholls State (0,0) Oregon State (0,0)
Standings: Season opener

Game notes

This kind of a matchup is standard practice for a Mike Riley schedule. He generally posts an out of conference game against a lower end opponent—think of it as a confidence booster.

Usually a game like this would be a cakewalk. The Beavers aren’t at the top of their division, but they should be more than enough for a small school like Nicholls State.

Of course, things don’t always go as easy as they should. OSU learned this the hard way in their 2011 season opener against Sacramento State, in which they lost 29-28.

Looking for a fresh start, and a rebound for the program, Mike Riley will enter this game with guns-a-blazing.

Reser Stadium

It’s that time again. Opening day at Reser.

What to watch: Nicholls St.

Nicholls State struggled in 2011, posting a miserable 18.0 points per game while allowing 34.6.

2011 starting quarterback LaQuintin Caston has been moved to wide receiver, paving the way for Landry Klann—a more conventional option—to take over.

Their defense struggles against passing games, and over 70% of their interceptions in 2011 came from two players who are now gone. That won’t fair well against the Beavers high flying passing attack.

What to watch: Oregon St.

OSU features a much more dynamic offense than in 2011. The squad struggled to gel last season, but with more than a year of working together things should be smoother. The biggest addition to the squad is Storm Woods at running back, whose huge upside won him the starters job.

While the Beavers won’t feature as many freshman as they did in 2011, this squad is still filled with plenty of “green.” It’s been confirmed that Isaac Seumalo will start at center, while Gavin Andrews (OL), Caleb Smith (TE) and Joel Skotte (LB) will see plenty of reps. If the Beavers dominate this one, expect lots of playing time for the rookies.

Beavs O vs. Colonels D

With the pass deficient defense of the Colonels, this will be a great game for Riley to unleash Sean Mannion. I wouldn’t be surprised if he posted his first 400 yard game. Expect Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks to be fully utilized in the air game.

The biggest test on offense will be establishing the run game. OSU is rolling with redshirt freshman Storm Woods as their starting running back, and this will be a big test for the first year starter. Woods will be utilized on every down—if not running then as a receiver or blocker—so he’ll gain plenty of experience in this one.

Nicholls State

Nicholls State is a run first offense, opting to rely on speed and dynamics over conventional play

Ball control was a big issue for the Beavs in 2011, and the Colonels defense likes to force fumbles. It’s now or never for the offense to adapt and protect the football.

Colonels O vs. Beavs D

The Colonels don’t run particularly well, averaging 146.7 yards per game in 2011. Their passing game isn’t any better, posing 136.6 yards per game.

Nicholls State is a run first offense, opting to rely on speed and dynamics over conventional play—their 2011 QB was recently moved to wide receiver for 2012. These are the kinds of things that tripped the Beavers up in 2012.

The biggest test will be stopping the run. Luckily, the Colonels O-line isn’t particularly strong—allowing 47 sacks last season. Riley will stack the box as much as possible, so expect a big game from the linebackers.

As long as the Beavers put on plenty of pressure, the defense should be able to hold their own in this one.

Prediction

No matter how unevenly matched these two teams are, nothing is written in stone. OSU cannot sleep on this one.

Unfortunately for the Colonels, I think Riley uses this game as a confidence boost. It’s usually not his style to blow out opponents, but after 2011 the Beavers need all the confidence they can get.

No doubt, Riley lets the offense loose in this one. Mannion will have free reign to put up as much damage as he sees fit. On the other side of things, the defense is going to bring the heat and do everything they can to limit Nicholls State’s run game.

Nicholls St. 7 Oregon St. 45

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