After a 49-46 loss to FCS opponent Eastern Washington week one, Oregon State’s season was thought to be over. It isn’t.
Ranked 25th in the AP preseason poll, the 2013 season looked bright for the Beavers. The preseason forecast turned out to be more accurate than the opening game indicated; the Beavers are the best passing offense in the nation by yards and touchdowns and rank ninth in the country in scoring offense at just over 44 points per game. However, the loss doomed Oregon State to a fate worse than irrelevance: a season as an afterthought.
Oregon State, now 6-1 and allowing just 23 points per game since its sole loss, is competing at such a high level for two reasons: the play of quarterback Sean Mannion and the relative ease of its schedule. Both of those successes will be tested this Saturday.
Oregon State has only played one team with a winning record over its six game win-streak, but Saturday eighth-ranked Stanford visits Corvallis, the first of five current or formerly ranked teams Oregon State will play to end its season. Luckily for the Beavers, Stanford is a below average team against the pass, allowing 247 yards per game through the air.
That total is just 30 yards greater than Mannion’s average performance for a half.
Playing well enough to prompt fans to create “Sean Mannion for Heisman” websites, Mannion has performed undeniably well in 2013, leading the country in passing yards and touchdowns and placing second in completions. This has eliminated any uncertainty about Mannion’s victory in the summer’s quarterback controversy between Mannion and Cody Vaz.
Obviously having made the correct decision, Oregon State now faces Stanford in a classic trap game for the Cardinal. One week after playing then-unbeaten UCLA and one game before facing unbeaten Oregon, Stanford sandwiches in an Oregon State team still considered to be in the purgatory of afterthought status.
Already having sneaked back into the BCS top-25, a win against Stanford likely will propel Oregon State back into the realm of relevancy. A loss doesn’t necessarily doom the Beavers either, with ample opportunities to beat talented teams throughout the rest of the season.
Win or loss, one thing is for sure for Oregon State – its season is not over.