Where do we go from here?
I was ready to write something like this after the Wisconsin game. Then I had to take a step back and come back down to Earth. It was just one game.
Then the Beavers toppled No. 19 UCLA and I threw caution to the wind.
I mean, if being 2-0 to start the season—with both wins coming against ranked opponents—isn’t something to write about, then I don’t know what is. Especially for a team many figured to be bottom dwellers in the Pac-12.
Even with two huge wins questions remain. Where do we go from here? Will OSU be a great Cinderella story, or will the team become dust in the wind?
The Pipe Dream: Beavers run the table, play in major bowl game
This season has already had an incredibly special start. How much more special do the Beavers have to give?
Oregon State had a big start, toppling Big 10 giant Wisconsin, and two weeks later Pac-12 redeem team UCLA. But with visits to Washington and Stanford on the horizon, as well as a little thing called the Civil War, there’s no rest for the Beavs.
They have a chance to win all three of these games, but if they can is a different story entirely.
Of these three, their biggest opponent to overcome will be the Ducks. UO has ran over the Beavers the last four seasons, with the closest game being the 2008 War of the Roses. Back then OSU was lead by a stud QB and powerful defensive line… sound familiar?
OSU has the defense to slowdown Oregon’s run game, but they still represent a huge challenge. Not to mention, even if they get through the season unscathed they’ll still have the Pac-12 championship game—most likely facing off against powerhouse USC.
While the Beavers have stave off losses so far, they’re far from out of the woods.
Still, I can’t help but give this at least a small chance of happening. There’s magic in this team, and that defense is perfect for a run happy conference. Having the best QB in your division, if not conference, doesn’t hurt either.
Final Verdict: 10% chance; OSU plays in the Rose Bowl or BSC Championship—if Oregon is highly ranked when beat
The Pleasant Surprise: Beavers drop two to three games, play in bowl game
Remember those big three games? Say the Beavers can win at least one of those, while beating the rest of their conference foes. Not a bad season in anyway.
I think this is precisely what Oregon State will do. But before I am ready to completely side with this theory, I have to see how the Beavers do against a pass first offense.
The Pac-12 is filled with run based offensive schemes, but teams like Arizona, Washington and Washington State employ high flying systems. Sure enough, the Beavers have all three of these teams looming on the horizon.
This weekend’s game will tell us a lot about these Beavers. We know Oregon State can shutdown the running game, but how will they fair against a high-octane pass attack?
If they can shutdown Arizona this weekend, then the defense will have finale proved themselves. From that point—depending on health—OSU can coast through the rest of the season while dropping the Civil War and one of Stanford or Washington.
The worst thing about this is they’re still subject to the Pac-12 food chain. Oregon and USC will most likely split the Rose Bowl and another top tier bowl game. Meaning, the rest of the Pac-12 has to play in lesser bowls.
Even if playing in a lower tier bowl, the Beavers will be exceeding expectations. And everyone loves a good underdog.
Final Verdict: 60% chance; OSU plays in the Alamo Bowl
Meeting Expectations: Beavers drop three to five, could still play in bowl game (40%)
At this point in time, an 8-4 or 7-5 finish seems like the most lackluster Beaver finish possible. For most pundits that would still be exceeding expectations—and meeting my preseason predictions.
No game should ever be considered an “automatic” win, but there are still plenty of games you expect your team to have a hard time losing.
Looking at OSU’s schedule, from here on I see five games I expect them to win. That leaves five more that could go either way.
Depending on how they play the rest of the way, seven to nine wins is still a big statement for a team many believed destined for last. Depending on who they beat, it may even be good enough for a bowl game.
Final Verdict: 30% chance; OSU plays in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl