Battered Beavers face short turnaround
The next challenge for Oregon State is USC, and the Trojans might be the least daunting foe left on the Beavers' schedule.
But coming off its first conference defeat of the season to Stanford, Oregon State has a short week to prepare for the Trojans with a Friday game at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.
After a very physical game against Stanford led to a bunch of minor physical ailments, the Beavers will shorten practice and limit the contact sessions even more than normal in an attempt to bounce back with one less day than usual between games.
It's a crucial situation for the Beavers. Lose, and they fall two games behind Oregon in pursuit of the Pac-12 North title, and in effect, two behind Stanford because the Cardinal has the tiebreaker with its victory over OSU.
Win and Oregon State is still in the chase, but possibly needing some help.
While many will point to the fact the Beavers have beaten USC on its last three trips to Corvallis, does that really have much to do with this game?
"Every year is different. That history ... this is two new teams and new years," Oregon State coach Mike Riley pointed out, adding that these Beaver players "can't rely on the fact that those other teams beat (the Trojans)."
Plus, the teams haven't played since 2010 due to the Pac-12 splitting into divisions, with each team missing two opponents from the other division on an annual basis.
The schedule always looked like it was back-loaded in terms of difficulty, and that's becoming more obvious as the Beavers get into the second half of their games. They also still have Arizona State, Washington and Oregon left to play following a bye, so how successful this season turns out will be determined in the coming month.
Oregon State (6-2 overall, 4-1 in the Pac-12) has already become bowl eligible, but the big goal of winning the division is still out there, although the Beavers likely can't afford another defeat. And the Trojans are the first challenge in that regard.
"It's another group of good athletes. They haven't been scored upon much," Riley said of the Trojans. "The most important thing for us is to get our team prepared and physically refreshed."
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
--WR Brandin Cooks was limited to 80 receiving yards by Stanford, which concentrated on him. He's likely to see that from now on, and without a big play from him the offense had its' lowest production of the season, in terms of both points and yards, against Stanford. USC, and future opponents, will pay attention to that. Cooks needs to provide big plays or the Beavers will stall again.
--DE Scott Crichton has been playing up to his all-league credentials of late, and his 36-yard return of a fumble recovery was a big play for the Beavers against Stanford. He needs to get a few more of those and keep the pressure on with his pass rush.
--CB Rashaad Reynolds will have a challenge from USC's receivers, especially if Marqise Lee returns to action for the Trojans. The Beavers have greatly improved their pass coverage during the season, but now comes the biggest challenge so far with USC's talent at the receiving positions.
SERIES HISTORY: USC has dominated the series 59-11-4 but the Beavers have won the last three meetings played in Corvallis. The teams haven't played since 2010, a 36-7 triumph by the Beavers.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just need to focus as a team. We can't let this dictate the future." -- Oregon State cornerback Rashaad Reynolds, on the Beavers needing to bounce back from their first conference defeat.