Oregon State (1-1) at Utah (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,017) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Fox Sports 1. Home Record: Oregon State 1-1, Utah 2-0. Away Record: Oregon State 0-0, Utah 0-0. Neutral Record: Oregon State 0-0, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: Oregon State 0-0, Utah 0-0. Series Record: Oregon State leads, 10-6-1.
GAME NOTES: In the third week of the 2013 season the Oregon State Beavers and Utah Utes will get their Pac-12 league schedules underway as they meet in a battle at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Oregon State bounced back from a heartbreaking 49-46 loss to FCS foe Eastern Washington with a 33-14 victory over Hawaii. The win moves the Beavers to 60-22 at Reser Stadium since 2000. That home record is only topped by Oregon and USC among Pac-12 schools.
Utah has yet to taste defeat in its first two games, both home affairs. The Utes dispatched of instate rival Utah State, 30-26, in the season opener. Then against an overmatched Weber State squad, the Utes rolled to a 70-7 victory.
After last season's 21-7 win in Corvallis by Oregon State these teams have split their first two meetings as Pac-12 foes. Overall Oregon State leads the all-time series, 10-6-1.
No one can say Oregon State's issues have been on offense this season. The Beavers have already totaled 1,035 yards. However, there has been absolutely no balance. While quarterback Sean Mannion has been busy lighting up the sky, the Beavers have been anemic in the rushing game with just 162 total yards on the ground.
Mannion completed 31-of-43 pass attempts for 372 yards and four touchdowns against Hawaii. Mannion has thrown for at least 350 yards five times in his career and has already eclipsed the 300-yard plateau twice this season. Mannion was intercepted for the first time against Hawaii but by completing 79.1 percent of his pass attempts, has given head coach Mike Riley stability under center.
It certainly helps that Brandin Cooks has been on the receiving end of a number of Mannion's passes. Cooks already has 20 receptions, 288 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games. Storm Woods (15 receptions, 139 yards) and Connor Hamlett (13 receptions, 97 yards) have each also reached the 10- catch mark for the season.
Though Woods has been reliable in the passing game, the starting running back has not been as effective in his primary role. Woods has rushed for just 118 yards on 33 carries for a paltry 3.6 yards-per carry average.
Riley got his defense to take a step forward in week two when the Beavers allowed just 239 yards, holding Hawaii to just a 1-of-11 success rate on third down. However, Oregon State is still second to last in the Pac-12 in total defense (432 ypg).
Michael Doctor has been the most reliable, and productive defender for the Beavers as he has 13 tackles and leads the team in tackles for loss (2.5) and sacks (2.0). Jabral Johnson has a team-high 14 tackles, while three other players have reached double-digit stops. Rashaad Reynolds, thought to be a potential all-conference pick at cornerback, has just five tackles and no interceptions or pass breakups.
It is difficult to pinpoint just how good Utah is as an offensive team. The Utes are averaging 50 points and 539 yards of offense each game, but those numbers have been heavily inflated by the 70-7 stomping the Utes put on the Wildcats. Last year the Utes averaged 26.7 points and 324.4 yards per game.
If Travis Wilson keeps throwing the ball the way he has through the first two games, the Utes' offensive trend could continue its upward surge. Wilson has completed 31-of-47 pass attempts for 566 yards and five touchdowns without an interception. Those numbers are even more impressive considering he did not start the second half against Weber State. Wilson has also been able to provide a dynamic element for the Utes' offense with his ability to escape the pocket. Wilson has 102 yards and two scores on the ground this season.
Three different receivers have reached the century mark in terms of receiving yards. Dres Anderson (six receptions, 162 yards, two TDs), Sean Fitzgerald (eight receptions, 166 yards, two TDs) and Anthony Denham (seven receptions, 129 yards) have all been solid.
No running back has produced much for the Utes. Five different players have at least 10 carries this season. James Poole has had the most attempts (15 rushes, 91 yards) but Lucky Radley leads the team with 111 yards and two scores on 13 carries.
Just as the offensive numbers need to be taken in context, the defensive production comes with a big grain of salt as well. Utah is giving up just 16.5 points and 346 yards per game to its first two opponents. Keep in mind that they surrendered just seven points and 205 yards to Weber State, while getting gashed for 487 yards against Utah State.
Utah has done a good job of getting in the backfield, with nine sacks as a team. Leading the way in that regard is Tenny Palepoi, who has 2.5 quarterback takedowns. Trevor Reilly has amassed 14 tackles, including two for loss, as one of seven players to reach at least 10 tackles in the first two games.
Both of these teams have solid defenses that will keep Mannion and Wilson from turning this contest into a track meet. With the home crowd behind them the Utes have a very good shot in what should be a tightly contested game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 24, Oregon State 23
09/11 10:40:42 ET