Oregon State invades Husky Stadium this weekend coming off a 66-13 pummeling of hapless Washington State. The 3-3 Beavers opened the season with losses to Stanford, and Penn State. They also fell on the road to 14th ranked Utah in Salt Lake City.
What sets this team apart from most .500 squads is that they knocked off #1 Southern California. Wins over Hawaii and WSU were expected, but the margin of victory against WSU surprised a lot of people. Obviously coach Mike Riley is performing his usual second half scenario and that is getting improvement out of his team on a week to week basis. The Beavers figure to be very tough during the seasons second half and are a good bet to go bowling after the season concludes.
We all figured that this was going to be a rebuilding season for the Beavers and that is true to a certain extent when you take a look at the newcomers on the roster. Another thing people are figuring out is that the Oregon State staff is very good at filling holes and overcoming adversity. Mike Riley has proved that he can take the hand he is dealt and make is as good or better than your hand. That is a sure sign of good coaching.
At the start of the season this was one of those games we circled as a possible victory. As we enter the seasons second half I honestly feel that Washington will have a hard time keeping the Beavers under 50 points. It isn't that Oregon State is that good. The real question is how bad the Huskies are without Jake Locker in the lineup. Ronnie Fouch may be a little more accurate but he does not bring nearly any of the intangibles that Jake brings to the game. The UW defense of course is among the nations worst so even with a healthy Locker it was tough for UW to score more points than the opposition.
For Willingham this is a gut check type of game in his goal to finish the season without getting fired mid season. The AD and the coaching staff keep telling us the team hasn't quit but that is a pretty flimsy platform to hang your hat on after the loss to Arizona. The Mildcats could have hung 70 points on the Dawgs if they wanted to. Only the mercy of a guy who knows what it is like to be in the same spot kept the game from becoming historically ugly. When you have to count on the mercy of Mike Stoops you realize how far the formerly mighty have fallen.
This week Washington faces an opponent that simply doesn't like them. There is no love between the Beavers and the Huskies. After the 63 OSU put up on WSU it is easy to figure that Riley would have no problem with tacking on 70 against Washington on the road if possible. He understands that burying the Washington schools is good business when recruting begins to get hot and heavy in December.
Lyle Moevao has turned into a QB you can win games with and he has the tools at the skill positions surrounding him to score a lot of points. The Beavers have the top set of receivers in the conference and the addition of freshman Jaquiz Rodgers makes this team a potent offense when theya ren't turning the ball over.
Defensively the Beavers have improved each game. They still aren't at the level they were in previous seasons but they should be able to keep Washington under twenty points on Saturday which will seal the victory.
If you are a Washington fan the thing to keep your eye on is whether Washington is competitive or not this week. They simply were never in the game against Arizona. Wildcat TB Nic Grigsby said he thought the Huskies quit against his team. I happen to think Grigsby was spot on. If they quit against Oregon State at home it will be tough for Scott Woodward not to make a move.
I understand all the good reasons for waiting till the end of the season, but if an average OSU team runs the score up in Husky Stadium it is time to stop putting lipstick on this pig of a football program.