Oregon State (2-5) at Utah (3-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 29th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,634) -- Salt Lake City, Utah . Television: KJZZ. Home Record: Oregon State 1-3, Utah 1-2. Away Record: Oregon State 1-2, Utah 2-2. Neutral Record: Oregon State 0-0, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: Oregon State 2-2, Utah 0-4. Series Record: Oregon State leads the series, 9-5-1.
GAME NOTES: The Oregon State Beavers will travel to Salt Lake City this weekend for their first ever Pac-12 meeting with the Utah Utes, who were handily beaten by California last weekend.
Oregon State picked up an important 44-21 win last weekend over Washington State in Seattle, keeping its bowl hopes alive. The Beavers continue to develop a young quarterback and benefited from a revitalized running game last weekend in the win over the Cougars, which is good news with the home-stretch coming up. Oregon State must win four of its last five games to qualify for a bowl, no easy task considering Stanford, Washington and Oregon remain on the November schedule.
Utah has received a rude welcome from the Pac-12 so far this season, losing to USC, Washington, Arizona State and Cal to drop to 0-4 in league play. The Golden Bears roughed up Utah's run game last weekend, allowing the Utes to rush for just 44 yards. There is plenty of work to do for Utah to become bowl eligible. The Utes must win three of the last five games. Following the matchup with Oregon State Saturday, Utah will travel to Arizona on November 5th.
Oregon State leads the all-time series with Utah, 9-5-1, but dropped the last meeting to the Utes 31-28 in October of 2008.
Sean Mannion had an excellent game against Washington State last weekend. The freshman quarterback completed 26-of-34 passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, and the Oregon State running game complemented his performance with a combined 175 yards rushing (including 103 yards from Agnew).
Mannion is 62nd in the country in pass efficiency (130.1), and he has shown his youth at times (10 interceptions). Mannion has thrown for 1,964 yards and nine touchdowns this year, and has tossed two 300-yard passing games in the last two contests. Oregon State averages 409.5 total yards, with 297.2 coming through the air. Markus Wheaton is third in the Pac-12 in receptions per game (7.2), and averages 92.4 yards per game. Jordan Bishop and James Rodgers both have 22 receptions and one touchdown this season, and Rodgers averaged 23.3 yards per catch (three receptions, 70 yards) last week against Washington State.
The Cougars also got a heavy dose of Agnew, who was back in the lineup for the second game after missing the previous four contests due to injury. That has caused a huge blow to the Oregon State running game all season, which is 105th in national rushing with a 112.2 average. Agnew carried 23 times against Washington State, and scored his first touchdown since scoring three in the season opener against Sacramento State.
Washington State entered last week's contest with the 11th best passing attack in the country (326.6), but Oregon State's defense limited the Cougars to just 232 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception. The run defense also stood out, allowing just 83 yards. It was one of the more complete defensive performance of the season for the Beavers, who allow 390.2 total yards per game (145.1 rush, 245.1 pass). Oregon State gives up alot of points (30.2), and haven't exactly been destructive in opposing backfields this season. The Beavers are 111th in tackles for loss per game (4.2) and 44th in sacks (2.1), and are negative-2 in the turnover ratio. Scott Crichton has been a solid performer this season, and is tied for the lead in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss with 10, which includes four sacks. Jordan Poyer is also tied for first in the league with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Utah's offense took a huge blow when it lost quarterback Jordan Wynn for the season due to injury earlier this month against Washington. Jon Hays has started in his place the past three games, and has struggled to progress. Hays has yet to throw over 200 yards in a game, and has had two three-interception games (against Arizona State and California). He completed 14-of-23 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions in a win over Pitt on October 15, but came back last weekend against Cal and completed just 11-of-22 passes for 148 yards and three picks. Utah ranks last in the Pac-12 in passing offense (196.2) and passing efficiency (117.6).
The Utes are relying on the run game to push through the conference season, and have the second leading rusher in the Pac-12 in John White (101.4). White has carried 68 times in the past three games (including a 36-carry, 171-yard rushing performance against Pitt), but had just 15 totes for 39 yards and a touchdown in a blowout loss to Cal last weekend. Overall, Utah is 108th in total offense (309).
The Utes' defense has posted some quality outings in the pass-happy Pac-12, and ranks fourth in the conference in pass defense (235.1). Utah is 15th in the country against the run (99.4), and overall rank as the 27th best unit in the country in terms of total yardage (334.5). The Utes held Pitt's dynamic running back Ray Graham to his lowest output of the season (46 yards) and accounted for the team's only touchdown of the day, a 21-yard interception return by Derrick Shelby with 1:12 remaining that sealed the win over the Panthers. The unit kept Cal at 129 yards on 42 carries last weekend in the loss.
The Utes have been able to apply decent pressure consistently through seven games as well, registering nearly 2.5 sacks per game, along with six tackles for loss. Trevor Reilly leads the Pac-12 in sacks with six, and has 10 TFLs.
Oregon State has shown flashes this season, but not enough consistency. Agnew returning to the backfield should help Mannion develop more late in the season, and the Oregon State offense gets a true test this week against the Utah defense, which held Oregon's Darron Thomas to 198 yards passing and USC's Matt Barkley to 195. Now all Utah needs is to gain traction on offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 24, Oregon State 21
10/26 11:31:50 ET