OSU rode the arm of Sean Mannion to their first victory last Saturday and look towards non-conference opponent Brigham Young to get their 2nd win and create momentum heading back into Pac-12 play next week in Seattle. BYU (4-2) brings a balanced offensive attack and a battle-tested defense that has lined up against the likes of Ole Miss, Texas and Utah.
Here's a look at how the positions match up and who Beaverblitz thinks may have the advantage this Saturday.
Sean Mannion has grown up quickly and is proving Coach Riley made the right decision to name him the starter. Mannion's nearly 280 yards per game through the air ranks 30th nationally. He does need to limit mistakes, his seven interceptions is last in the Pac-12.
For BYU, Jake Heaps took a back seat to lefty Riley Nelson who has led the Cougars to two straight victories. Nelson is completing 63% of his passes and in his first true start last week, he threw for 219 yards and three scores. Nelson did toss two interceptions in BYU's 29-16 win over San Jose State, however. Nelson is a versatile QB who will surely have designed runs called on Saturday.
Advantage: Oregon State - Sean Mannion is light years better than he was in Madison and while Nelson is a mobile QB (127 yards on 20 carries) he hasn't been tested on the road against a Pac-12 defense.
OSU barely gets into the conversation this week with Agnew still questionable and the status of Jovan Stevenson (concussion) unknown. What is known is that Stevenson has clearly separated himself and is either #2 behind Agnew (when healthy) or 1a. Stevenson is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and has scored once.
BYU has a stable of backs who will be cutting on the Reser Stadium turf, most notably senior JJ Di Luigi. Di Luigi leads the team in carries (56), yards (230) and is tied with fellow back Bryan Kariya with one score. Kariya and Joshua Quezada have carried the ball 40 and 42 times respectively. Luigi is your quick open field back, while Kariya and Quezada are bigger inside-the-tackle type runners.
Advantage: Push - If Stevenson was healthy the edge would go to OSU after his performance against Arizona. The receiving yards from Jordan Jenkins (134) are equaled by the 281 yards rushing of Quezada and Kariya.
Oregon State has one of the nation's best kept secrets waiting to explode in Markus Wheaton. Wheaton is 39th nationally with 88.8 yards per game but has yet to score. Jordan Bishop adds a punch in the slot with 14.1 yards per reception and a score. Senior leader James Rodgers is full-go and becoming a favorite target of Mannion, hauling in 14 passes for 149 yards and a score.
BYU's go to guy is 6-3 202 pound freshman Ross Apo, who leads the team with three scores. Cody Hoffman and McKay Jacobson have 19 and 17 receptions respectively and average more than 12 yards per catch. BYU has not had a play over 40 yards in the passing game this season.
Advantage: Oregon State - On paper BYU looks to spread the ball around pretty well, but they're not on the same level as Wheaton, Rodgers and Bishop. Especially now that a more mobile QB is in for BYU and OSU's QB is gaining confidence.
Markus Mathews is not your typical tight end, checking in at 6-5 200 pounds. Undersized or not, the Beaverton, OR native is fourth on the team in yards (146) and tied for 3rd in receptions with 16. Matthews has found the end zone once. Big bodies Austin Holt (6-4 245) and Richard Wilson (6-2 233) have 18 receptions, 261 yards and one score between them.
The Beavers are glad to have Joe Halahuni back at full strength and looking every bit of it. The Tank has been found 13 times, but for just 80 yards. He leads the team with two touchdowns and is being utilized as a chain mover by Coach Langsdorf. Colby Prince has been used sparingly, but is a quality option in the passing game.
Advantage: BYU - Halahuni hasn't provided the big, down the field play quite yet and Prince hasn't been utilized much. Meanwhile BYU tight ends have accounted for 407 yards and two scores.
The strides that OSU's o-line has made have been impressive. Left guard Joshua Andrews remains out, but Grant Enger has stepped up and filled in nicely.
Better play calling has allowed this group to settle in and they're now creating running lanes for the suddenly two-dimensional Beaver offense. OSU is up over 110 yards rushing per game and did not allow a sack last week and have allowed just eight through the first five games.
For BYU the 116 yards per game is enough to make their rushing game respectable. The line is big and will give the Beaver front four a good test. BYU has allowed defenders to sack the QB 10 times.
Advantage: Push - OSU's line has taken steps in the right direction, but opponents Texas, Ole Miss and Utah are big time programs so strength of schedule is somewhat similar, as are the statistics.
D-ends Rusty Fernando and Dylan Wynn have added a certain swagger to the team that was sorely missing in the first couple weeks. The 130 yards on the ground per game needs improvement, but seven of the team's nine sacks are from the d-line (Scott Crichton/Fernando both with 3). This group has been inches from adding on 4-5 more sacks and last week harassed Nick Foles and nearly knocked him out of the game.
BYU's Hebron Fangupo and Eathyn Manumaleuna are big bodies inside and perfect fits for their 3-4 scheme. Fangupo leads the team with 5.5 tackles for loss and both have 18 tackles. Neither has recorded a sack. The Cougars allow 151 yards rushing per game, 63rd worst in the nation.
Advantage: Oregon State - The front four have come to life and Andrew Seumalo and Scott Crichton have been impressive alongside Fernando and Wynn.
Michael Doctor and Cam Collins showed up on film multiple times last week and seem to be getting back into the flow of things. Feti Unga continues to be one of the nation's leading tacklers (2nd in the conference with 45 tackles). This group is growing weekly and beginning to play fast like many expected from week one.
With four linebackers, BYU's 3-4 scheme allows for their crew to be very active and thus showcases four of the team's top five tacklers. Lead by Brandon Ogletree (37 tackles) and Kyle Van Noy (28 tackles), the group is athletic, deep and the heartbeat of the BYU defense.
Advantage: BYU - Unga is as good as or better than any in the BYU group, but quality depth and athletic ability puts BYU over the top here.
Oregon State has begun to play much better in the defensive backfield, led by Jordan Poyer and Lance Mitchell. The duo has three interceptions between them and have played hard-nosed football and been a source of inspiration for the rest of the defense.
OSU is 8th in the conference, allowing 253.4 yards through the air. The 11 scores allowed is tied for 10th in the Pac-12. The group is improving; however last week Nick Foles only skewed the numbers even worse in Arizona's frantic comeback attempt.
BYU has a quality secondary that allows just 200 yards per game and only four scores through six games. The group has four interceptions between them and while corner Corby Eason has yet to record an INT, his nine pass break ups lead the team by a large margin.
Advantage: BYU - The group is experienced and their 200 yards per game is 29th in the nation. Meanwhile, OSU sits at 94th in the nation and has given up almost three times as many passing TD's.