Oregon State (2-1) at San Diego State (0-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 21, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Qualcomm Stadium (70,561) -- San Diego, California. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Oregon State 1-1, SDSU 0-1. Away Record: Oregon State 1-0, SDSU 0-1. Neutral Record: Oregon State 0-0, SDSU 0-1. Conference Record: Oregon State 1-0, SDSU 0-0. Series Record: Oregon State leads, 5-3.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a thrilling win in their conference opener, the Oregon State Beavers will take aim at their third straight win against the San Diego State Aztecs in a non-league battle at Qualcomm Stadium.
In one of his many highlights from last Saturday, Brandin Cooks caught a six yard touchdown pass from Sean Mannion to lift the Beavers to a 51-48 overtime win against Utah in the Pac-12 opener. With the win the Beavers have now won consecutive games after an embarrassing loss to FCS foe Eastern Washington to kick off the campaign.
San Diego State was idle last weekend, giving the squad extra time to bounce back from losses in its first two games. First the Aztecs were dropped by FCS foe Eastern Illinois (40-19) before being handed a 42-7 dismissal by powerhouse Ohio State. The start has clearly not been an ideal one, especially for a team that has been to bowl games in each of the last three years.
The roots of this all-time series date back to 1923. Oregon State has won five of the eight total meetings, including a 45-7 triumph in 2008 when Jacquizz Rodgers was still on the roster for the Beavers. The squads have not met since.
Cooks and Mannion hooked up plenty of times against Utah, the norm on the season. Cooks hauled in nine passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns against Utah. Cooks has now brought in the most passes in the country this season (29) while ranking second in yards (498) behind Texas A&M's Mike Evans. Connor Hamlett (16 receptions, 115 yards, two TDs) and Richard Mullaney (15 receptions, 258 yards, two TDs) are also posting healthy numbers.
Mannion has really taken control of the starting job at quarterback, after dueling with Cody Vaz for the post for much of last season. Mannion has completed 73.1 percent of his pass attempts, while totaling 1,237 yards and 12 touchdowns to just one interception. Mannion is one of only two quarterbacks in the country to be averaging more than 400 yards per game.
The Beavers offense took a major hit in the backfield against Utah. Starting running back Storm Woods, who has 315 all-purpose yards, was taken off the field in an ambulance after suffering an injury against Utah. Woods is not expected to return against San Diego State. Terron Ward (43 yards) is the most productive backup.
Oregon State has not been able to recapture the success it had on defense last season. In 2013, the Beavers are allowing 467.7 yards and 37 points per game. Each of those marks is the second worst in the conference and far below the Beavers' production last year when they ranked second and third, respectively, in scoring and total defense.
Jabral Johnson is the team's leading tackler with 24 stops, although just one has come for loss. Linebacker Michael Doctor (13 tackles, 2.0 sacks) and defensive end Scott Crichton (13 tackles, 2.5 sacks) have been the most productive pass rushers.
Against Ohio State, the Aztecs had trouble getting much going on offense. They posted only 280 total yards, while averaging just 4.1 yards per play. The running game was especially weak, with the Aztecs managing just 64 yards on 27 carries. Through two games the Aztecs are scoring just 13 points and averaging 360 yards. Taking advantage of red zone opportunities would help, as the Aztecs have just one touchdown in six trips inside their opponent's 20-yard line.
Adam Dingwell has likely lost his starting job at quarterback after he was intercepted five times in the season opener. Quinn Kaehler threw for 216 yards on 22-of-36 pass against Ohio State and had a touchdown and one interception.
Colin Lockett (14 receptions, 156 yards) and Ezell Ruffin (10 receptions, 171 yards) are the most reliable receivers. Ruffin has shown more big-play potential, while Lockett is a possession receiver. No other player on the roster has more than four receptions.
The running game isn't likely to get better anytime soon. Chase Price is the lead rusher with 52 yards on 11 carries. The Aztecs are averaging just 3.0 yards per carry overall.
The offensive struggles have certainly not been helped by a porous defense. San Diego State has allowed more than 40 points in each game this season, the first time the Aztecs have done so in consecutive contests since 2008. San Diego State is surrendering 489 yards of total offense per game, with very little success in stopping the run (5.7 yards per carry) or the pass (10.4 yards per completion).
Jordan Thomas has the only sack for the Aztecs, while Vaness Harris lead the team with 15 tackles.
With Cooks on the edge and Mannion slinging the ball better than he has in his entire career, the Beavers' identity has changed. The now offensive-minded squad will be far too much for an overmatched San Diego State team, even on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon State 38, San Diego State 13
09/18 10:37:17 ET