Cougars pose big question for Beavers

Can Oregon State keep its momentum going when it's not the underdog?
Oct. 4, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

After winning just three games a year ago, the Oregon State Beavers have become the nation's biggest surprise in college football, moving from the ranks of "they'll be lucky to finish .500," to No. 14 with three surprising wins.

Oregon State beat defending Big 10 champion Wisconsin at home, beat surprising UCLA in the Rose Bowl and then Arizona last week in Tuscon with a late-game rally led by sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion.

They struggled to run the ball consistently and stop opposing passing games, but on the scoreboard - where it matters - they've come through, with their three wins by just 13 total points.

This week, the Beavers face Washington State, which is 2-3 overall after Pac-12 Conference losses to Colorado and Oregon.

With its season rolling and excitement building in Corvallis, the question for Saturday's game seems simple - can they keep the momentum going?

OSU is favored to win by nearly 15 points, the first time they've been favored to win by oddsmakers.

The concern for Saturday's game is genuine because the last time the Cougars traveled to OSU, the Beavers were favored to win by 23 points - and WSU pulled a huge upset by winning 31-14. It was an exclamation point to a fanatically frustrating season for the Beavers, who began the season with a loss to TCU at Cowboys Stadium, lost to Boise State two weeks later, but beat USC just a week after the WSU loss and eventually finished 5-7.

A loss Saturday would send fans directly back to that season mentally - frustrated.

WSU is a perfect candidate as a program easy to look past. The Cougs got drilled by BYU to open the season, then only narrowly beat FCS rival Eastern Washington 24-20, and then UNLV 35-27, which preceeded a 35-34 loss to Colorado. Oregon looked past the Cougars last week - at least for a half before pulling away for a 51-26 win.

OSU plays at Brigham Young next week.

 

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