FanHouse's 2010 Preseason College Football Poll -- No. 19 Oregon State
In a wide-open Pac-10, the biggest question about the Beavers might just be: Why the heck not? Why couldn't the Beavers end up in the Rose Bowl for the first time in 46 years?
The little team that could in Corvallis has 25 Pac-10 wins since 2006. Only USC has more (27). Oregon State, picked to finish third in the preseason poll behind Oregon and USC, has perhaps the most under-appreciated coach in the country in Mike Riley and two of the best skill players in the land in brothers James and Jacquizz Rodgers. The Beavers have 16 returning starters and the distinct sense in Corvallis that it can be done.
In fact, the Beavers would seem to have everything they need but a proven quarterback. Sophomore Ryan Katz takes over from veteran Sean Canfield, a first-team All-Pac-10 pick. Katz threw 27 passes last season (completing 14) and has a lot of experience to acquire. But he's surrounded by two of the best players in the history of the program and they will help break him in gently.
James and Jacquizz Rodgers will play together for one final season, each poised to make huge contributions. Jacquizz Rodgers is the Pac-10's second-leading returning rusher. Quizz finished with 1,440 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns last season and will be a Heisman candidate. James Rodgers, a senior, had the best season of his meteoric career a year ago, catching 91 passes for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns.
The defense is led by senior tackle Stephen Paea. He could be in an NFL training camp right now, but decided to come back to the Beavers for one more season because he thought it could be a big one. Paea needs to lead a pass rush that should do better than the 17 sacks recorded last season. Three veterans are back in the defensive backfield -- safeties Cameron Collins and Lance Mitchell and corner Brandon Hardin.
The secret to Oregon State's success over the past few seasons might just be the consistency of the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Danny Langdorf has been in Corvallis for six years, defensive coordinator Mark Banker for eight. The message stays the same: Work hard and do more with a little less.
This could be a year where the Beavers do even more than that.
THE BASICS: 8-5 last year with a 6-3 record in the Pac-10. They were tied for second in the conference race, lost a chance at the Rose Bowl with a loss to Oregon the Civil War game and ended the season in disappointing fashion with a 44-20 loss to BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. It was OSU's first bowl game loss in six years under Riley.
KEY PLAYER YOU PROBABLY DON'T THINK OF AS A KEY PLAYER: Mike Philipp, left tackle. Philipp a 6-foot-3, 307-pound sophomore, will be the guy protecting Ryan Katz's blind side this season on the offensive line, and keeping a young quarterback in the game week after week is no small thing. Philipp is viewed as a preseason all-conference pick.
FLY IN THE OINTMENT: It comes quickly with the season-opening game against TCU at Cowboys Stadium. It will be a homecoming game for the Rodgers brothers and a big measuring stick on an even bigger stage. If the Beavers are knocked back in a big way in Texas, it could shake them for the rest of the season.
DON'T MISS: At Boise State on Sept. 25. It certainly wasn't boring when the Broncos played against Oregon last year. The Beavers could be a threat to Boise's January aspirations.
FANHOUSE PREDICTION: 8-4 and a sixth consecutive bowl appearance are in store for the Beavers. The Rose Bowl? Only if Katz becomes the surprise of the season in the Pac-10.
FanHouse's Oregon State page with schedule