|Beavers try to beat another unbeaten|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 01 October 2008 10:41|
The Beavers visit the Utes on Thursday night, one week after Oregon State's 27-21 stunner over Southern California. Oregon State knocked the Trojans from national title favorites to the muddle of hopefuls and can succeed that by derailing Utah's Bowl Championship Series aspirations.
The Utes (5-0) need to remain unbeaten if they are going to reach the BCS for a second time, setting up the Beavers (2-2) to be a different kind of BCS Buster.
``It's hard to have a letdown when you're playing a team that is ranked 15th in the nation,'' Oregon State defensive end Slade Norris said. ``This next game is pretty much the most important for us. If we don't win, it kind of takes away all the hype from last game.''
State took a 21-0 lead at home and didn't let a second-half rally by the Trojans get too far.
If the Utes weren't already wary of Oregon State after losing there in the season opener last year, the Beavers definitely got Utah's attention with what they did last week.
``They showed their true potential - what they're capable of doing,'' cornerback Sean Smith said. ``Everyone knew that SC was going to win. Then you see Oregon State play the way they did, it kind of makes you want to go in and watch a little bit of extra film.''
The Beavers started last season with a 24-7 win over Utah, but it was a far different lineup for the Utes. Quarterback Brian Johnson separated his throwing shoulder late in the first half and running back Matt Asiata broke his leg in the first quarter. Darrell Mack, who ended up running for 1,204 yards last year, was going to redshirt and didn't play.
Utah has all three this time. Johnson is completing 69 percent of his passes and Asiata and Mack are averaging 5 yards per carry for the Utes, who have averaged 426 yards through the first five games.
But the Beavers just beat USC, so they aren't likely to be fearful of any offense.
``It was not a fluke. They outplayed USC,'' Utah coach Kyle Whitthingham said.
The Utes spent the short week coming up with ways to try and stop Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State's self-proclaimed ``small dude'' who ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns against USC. Rodgers, who's 5-foot-7 said the Trojans had a hard time seeing him behind Oregon State's offensive linemen.
Utah defensive coordinator Gary Andersen said Rodgers wasn't just kidding.
``He's got the full compliment. He's got great power. He's got great speed. He's got great vision and then you add his size, which is a positive for him,'' Andersen said. ``The hard part is he's got some 6-6, 300-pounders in front of him who are pretty good themselves. When you get the opportunity, you've got to tackle this guy.''
The Utes have been strong against the run this season, holding all but one opponent below 60 yards. Ends Koa Misi and Paul Kruger have kept most of the running backs they have faced from getting too far beyond the line of scrimmage. Misi leads the Utes in tackles with 28 and Kruger is right behind with 26.
Oregon State coach Mike Riley has been trying to keep the Beavers from dwelling too much on last week. He said the team still remembers what happened in the first two road games. The Beavers opened the season with a 36-28 loss at Stanford, then were routed at Penn St. 45-14.
Despite last week, the Beavers are still 12-point underdogs against Utah.
this game. That is going to be the key because you will be remembered for how you finish. That is the crux of the whole thing,'' Riley said. ``No matter how you start, good or bad, you will be remembered and your team will have the identity of how you finished the season.''
Well, the Beavers can pretty much count on being remembered for beating USC. But a second-straight upset would be another huge step in turning around a season that started 0-2.
``I think this team is grounded,'' Riley said. ``We've been in a bad locker room after a game and we've been on a bad plane ride (home) before. Our goal is to not go back there. Let's keep getting better.''