On the other sideline

By Bryan Chouinard, Staff Writer

The Oregon State Beavers are going to leave the friendly green hills of Corvallis, Ore., this weekend, whether they like it or not. After their two-game home stint, it’s time to go back on the road, a place where the Beavers have struggled this year.

It’s been a Jekyll-and-Hyde kind of season for the Beavers, who started the year 0-2 on the road, falling to Stanford in their opener, then getting embarrassed by the Penn State Nittany Lions in Happy Valley, Pa., a week later.

“We will be remembered on how we finish,” said Oregon State head coach Mike Riley.

In the opener against Stanford, OSU managed to lead most statistical categories, gaining more yards and first downs than the Cardinal. In the end, the three turnovers by the Beavers were too much to overcome and Stanford waltzed away with a 36-28 win.

Against Penn State, the Beavers once again faced turnover trouble, giving the ball up twice. But ultimately it was a poor showing of the OSU defense that cost them the game. Penn State moved the ball with ease against the Beavers, compiling 454 yards of offense, including 239 on the ground. When all was said and done, OSU left Happy Valley 0-2 after the 45-14 beat down.

Once they returned to the Beaver state, OSU kicked off the home season by welcoming Hawaii into Corvallis, only to send them back to paradise with a 45-7 loss.

“The win over Hawaii was a good thing, to finally get a win under our belt,” Riley said. “Through that, you get a chance to get better, and build on the feelings within your team about what they are capable of doing.”

And that’s exactly what they did. Few expected OSU to hang with USC, much less beat the No. 1 team in the country, but after a 21-0 first half performance, the Beavers were able to hold off USC to win 27-21.

“The ability to control the run was big,” Riley said. “Also the fact that in the first half our third-down defense was outstanding and we maintained field-position.”

Last weekend was only the second time in school history that a Beaver team had beaten the No. 1 team in the land.

But now it is time for Riley’s “giant-killers” to head back on the road, where they have been closer to getting killed then anything else.

“Because of what we just came off of, this could be kind of a trap game,” Riley said. “So our approach mentally is big and we have to get ready to play our best game of the year.”

Riley knows what Utah is capable of and knows the team well. OSU hosted the Utes last season and came away victorious at home ,24-7.

“We got a pretty good picture of what (Utah) is all about,” Riley said. “Kyle (Whittingham) has done a good job of maintaining consistency, they’re having a great year, they’ve gotten off to a great start, and they have an experienced, talented quarterback and a very aggressive defense.”

After Utah, Oregon State will face strictly PAC-10 foes from here on out, starting at home with Washington State.

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