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College Football Preview: What Sort of Year Will Oregon State Have in 2012?

After an extremely disappointing 3 win season in 2011, 5Dimes has set Oregon State’s 2012 college football win totals at over 4.5 (-165) and under 4.5 (+125). I believe the Beavers are a team that can surprise the oddsmakers this year.

Assisting me with the Oregon State analysis is ERockMoney (@ERockMoney77), who wrote an excellent  comment here, breaking down the Beavers chances to be the PAC 12’s sleeper team this year.

Young and unlucky in 2011

As I point out in The Saturday Edge’s PAC 12 Q & A: Most improved and overrated teams in 2012, last year Oregon State was very young (they played a school record 10 true freshmen) and according to Phil Steele, no team in the PAC 12 suffered more from injuries last year then the Beavers.

Oregon State lost 54 starts to injury in 2011, or 20.45% of starts missed. The bottom line, according to Steele, is teams that have suffered a lot of injuries the previous year will generally have a better year the next season.

Head coach Mike Riley

Mike Riley is an outstanding HC who consistently does more with less. He falls into a progression driven system, unlike the elite powers who simply reload at an incredibly fast rate, Oregon State must build their cohesion over multiple years. This approach typically will lead to a down year every so often, as the stock pile of talent simply is not there and younger, inexperienced players must be used to build towards future seasons.

2011 was that down year and I expect the tide to turn in Corvallis this season. The Beavers are loaded at the skill positions and the offensive line should show vast improvement from last year’s version. Riley and staff have had a knack for molding offensive line units in the past and this group should be a surprise this season.

Improved defense

Considering all the injuries the defense experienced last season, the Beavers D held up fairly well, finishing 7th in the conference.

The defensive line is a question mark after the Beavers surrendered 196.8 rushing yards per game last year. But with three starters returning, the unit can only improve. The linebacker corps is stacked and should be one of the stronger units in the conference and the secondary will be better.

I’m not saying this defense will be better by leaps and bounds, and I do expect them to struggle against some of the more high powered passing attacks in the conference. But I do expect to see solid defensive improvement from the Beavers this season.

Oregon State Schedule Analysis

I really like how the Beavers schedule flows in 2012. They catch UCLA (following Nebraska and Houston back to back) and Arizona (following the fast paced frenzied Ducks) early, both on the road, but winnable, as these are teams I would expect to be stronger later in the season.

The Beavers have five conference home games and face four comparable teams at home in Washington State (also following Oregon), Utah (HC), Arizona State and California (also following Oregon).

The other three conference games are difficult, road games at both Washington and Stanford and the Civil War against Oregon in Corvallis.

The non conference slate features cream puff Nichols State at home and two difficult games against Wisconsin at home and at BYU.

Oregon State’s 2012 college football win totals

I am not quite as optimistic about Oregon State as ERockMoney who believes the Beavers will far exceed expectations with 8 or 9 wins and a possible second place finish in the PAC 12 North. However, I do expect an improved (and luckier) Oregon State to exceed the oddsmakers projection of 4.5 wins.

I believe Oregon State will win at least 3 of the 5 conference home games against comparable foes, and more likely they’ll win four of those matchups. They’ll win at least one of their four conference road games and they’ll definitely not stumble this year and lose to an FCS foe like they did last year. That’s a minimum of five wins and enough to cash a winning over ticket.

Anyone else think Oregon State can be a surprise team in the PAC 12 this season? 

- Pez

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The Big 12: OU or Texas in 2012?

Get more great college football analysis over at Saturday Edge.


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