Can Beavs win without Mannion?
Nobody thought they could beat Wisconsin, UCLA or Arizona. Then they did. Now they’re without starting quarterback Sean Mannion and no one thinks they can beat BYU.
Matchup: Oregon State (10) vs. BYU
Venue: LaVell Edwards Stadium (Provo, UT)
Game Time, TV: 12:30 (PST), ABC
Date: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Weather: 68 high, 43 low, Mostly Sunny
Team Records: Oregon St. (4-0) BYU (4-2)
Even while ranked No. 10 in the nation, the Oregon State Beavers have become the ultimate underdog. The Beavs enter LaVell Edwards Stadium with a junior who hasn’t taken a snap since 2010 against one of the best defenses in the nation.
But there’s magic in this team, and where they’ve done it three times on the season they’ll do it again.
These teams have met two times over the last three seasons, with BYU winning both contests. The most recent game was last year in Corvallis, where the Cougars won 38-28.
Both players are without their most recent starting quarterbacks. The Beavers have lost Sean Mannion for an undetermined time. The Cougars were using freshman Taysom Hill at QB, until he was knocked out for the rest of the season last Saturday.
Oregon State linebacker Feti Taumoepeau will be playing opposite his twin brother Devin—who also plays linebacker, but for BYU.
Both teams rank in the top five in the nation in rushing defense.
What to watch: Oregon St.
With a perfect season on the line, you can be sure all eyes will be turned towards replacement quarterback Cody Vaz.
Vaz, a junior, hasn’t taken an in-game snap since 2010. He’s only appeared in five games in his career, completing five of 17 passes for 48 yards.
While Vaz might not be enjoying the breakout season that Mannion was, he’s not going it alone. He takes over an offense that is eighth in the nation in passing. As a junior, it’s a system he knows well.
If Vaz can stay accurate and trust his wide receivers, he should be able to keep this Beavers team rolling.
What to watch: BYU
BYU does not feature a very threatening offense, so the only way they win this one is defense.
The Cougars rank fifth in the country in total defense, allowing 59.5 yards on the ground (1st) and 169.8 yards through the air (12th).
Even with Vaz in at quarterback, the Cougars can’t get too comfortable. They still have to cover OSU’s dynamic receivers, and if they get too cozy up front the Beavers can make them pay with their running game.
It’ll be a battle to say the least.
Beavs O vs. Cougars D
Sometimes a team’s wide receivers are so good they make the quarterback all the better. The Beavers can only hope this is the case come Saturday.
Even with Mannion far from his best last week against Washington State, Wheaton finished the game with 95 yards receiving and a touchdown. That’s the kind of performance the Beavers need this week.
However, none of it matters if they’re not better with protecting the quarterback. WSU ran over the o-line last Saturday, and they can’t give that kind of leeway to BYU’s elite corp of linebackers.
Cougars O vs. Beavs D
BYU faces a lot of mysteries on Saturday. They’re a team that’s much better on the ground, and their leading rusher is out for the season. Meanwhile, their starting quarterback is returning after missing the last two games due to a back injury.
The Cougs will face off against an Oregon State defense that is fifth in the nation against the run. They’re also coming off their best game of the season, in which they held WSU to just 227 yards while forcing five turnovers.
With OSU’s prowess up front, this game will fall on the backs of the secondary.
Jordan Poyer had a fantastic three interception game against WSU. He could have another fantastic game against Riley Nelson, who has five interceptions in four games this season—including three in his last start against Boise St..
Much like last week’s game against Washington State, this will be a battle of the defenses.
Even without Mannion, Oregon State’s offense is dangerous. As long as Wheaton and Cooks are on the wings, they can do a lot of damage.
The Beavers have been an underdog all season long, and once again they’re facing a game many expect them to lose. As they’ve done all season long, they’ll prove the pundits wrong.