What will 2012 have in store?
Do the Beavers have any fight in them?
That’s the Oregon St. Beavers record from just a season ago; a season so riddled with failures that OSU’s enemies from down south barely uttered any semblance of trash talk because, well, the wounds were deep enough.
A home loss to Sacramento State (an FCS team who hadn’t beaten an FBS school since 2002), a 35-0 drubbing at Wisconsin and a 49-21 beat down at the hands of the rival Oregon Ducks were debilitating, at best, and showed how easily a team can go from conference competitor, to PAC-12 doormat, in just one season.
So needless to say, the Oregon State football team has a lot to prove this year.
More than just a tall hill to climb, it’s more akin to Mt. Everest, the Beavers need to not only achieve some of the modest goals they’ve set for themselves, but shock the country with the type of football they put on display this year.
How can they do that, you ask?
By living up to these five fearless predictions I have for the Beavers entering the 2012 season.
5. OSU Loses a Nail Biter Against Wisconsin in Corvallis
While a win in this situation would certainly be preferable, I think predicting a close loss would be more reasonable.
Last year’s shootout (Wisconsin only) was embarrassing for Beaver Nation, and as this year’s team comes back a year wiser, the players who were on last year’s squad haven’t forgot what it was like to get shutout on the road.
So, wouldn’t they love to return the favor?
In theory, yes. On the field, well, it may be a bit different than just running the Badgers out of the building.
Sure, they don’t have Russell Wilson, but they do have one of the more electric running backs in the country, in Montee Ball. Ball rushed for an incredible 1,923 yards last year, on 307 carries, and tallied 39 total touchdowns.
Talk about production.
OSU’s defense just hopes to contain the senior tailback, or else this game could get out of hand.
4. Oregon State Will Be Bowl Eligible
There has to be six winnable games on OSU’s schedule this year, right?
Assuming they take care of business against Nicholls State in the season opener, I think there are at least five other games Oregon State can win to become bowl eligible this year.
Wins against UCLA (away), Arizona (away), Washington State (home), Utah (home) and Arizona State (home) are all within reach. Now this doesn’t leave much wiggle room for the Beavers if they want to prove to be bowl eligible, but there’s no denying the wins are there for the taking.
It’s just a matter of which OSU team takes the field on any given Saturday.
3. Sean Mannion Will Threaten Derek Anderson’s Single Season Passing Record
As a freshman, Mannion already started making his mark in the OSU record books by setting the mark for most passing yards by a first year player with 3,328.
That freshman record was also good for 3rd all time in the OSU history books, behind, who else, Derek Anderson at spots 1 and 2.
So it isn’t that much of a stretch to say that Mannion will threaten Anderson’s single season passing mark, and quite possibly the career passing record, of which DA also holds.
In 2003 Anderson threw for a record 4,058 yards, and left Oregon State with a grand total of 11,249 yards passing.
With 3,000 of that already in the books for Mannion, the record is in sight, assuming he is the full time starter through his senior season.
2. Oregon State Will Finish Above .500 in PAC-12 Play
It certainly has been a while since anyone had high hopes of the Beavers just finishing above .500 in conference play, but these are the kind of small victories OSU needs to be striving for while they find their footing.
As mentioned above, there are at least five winnable PAC-12 games this year, which would be good enough to secure an above .500 record in conference.
Should that be accomplished, the Beavers would have come a long way to silencing some of the critics that have them as doormat yet again this year.
The confidence that would inevitably come from a string of conference victories could help prepare them for the biggest game of the year, which leads me to….
1. OSU Will Beat U of O in the Annual Civil War Game
Couldn’t you see this prediction coming from a mile away?
As cliche as this may be, it is the definition of a fearless prediction as they relate to Oregon State football.
The Ducks, winners of four straight Civil Wars, would be looking to win in Corvallis for the 3rd time in the last 5 years.
There’s no telling what may be on the line this year for either team, but no matter the records, this is the most highly anticipated game for either squad, all year.
With the departure of both Darron Thomas, and LaMichael James, the new look Ducks will be a different team this year, but you can safely say they’ll be the same powerhouse.
There’s no question OSU will be the dog in this fight, which would make victory that much sweeter.
The Beaver’s chances may solely rest on the progression of Sean Mannion as a game manager, and how well conditioned the OSU defense is to counteract the Ducks spread offense running game.
If both of those factors line up, then OSU may very well have a chance.
It may be wishful thinking, I know, but I’m sticking to it.
Five fearless predictions for a team coming off of a less than flawless season.
It will be no small task to live up to these predictions and really, any improvement from a year ago, will be welcome.