The Oregon State Beavers, now 2-1 on the year, are on the road this week to take on the 0-2 San Diego State Aztecs. The game begins at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) and can be seen on the CBS Sports Network. Here are the answers to all the burning questions I’m sure you’re asking yourself about the game.
Is OSU quarterback Sean Mannion for real?
Yes. I mean, he’s “for real” in the sense that he’s not a hologram, but he’s also “for real” in the sense that he’s pretty damn good. Mannion is putting up unreal (ha!) numbers so far in 2013 and is on pace to have one of the best seasons in OSU history. Mannion, in three games, has thrown for a ridiculous 1,237 yards and 12 touchdowns while completing 72.5% of his passes. He’s also only thrown one pick.
If Sean Mannion keeps playing well, will you stop posting that “Reversing the Male Gaze” video he made?
Never! (To be fair, I think it’s actually kind of cool that a big-time athlete took a project for a Gender Studies class seriously. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s a great video. He gets props for the effort, though.)
How good is wide receiver Brandin Cooks?
Cooks had some huge shoes to fill headed into 2013 with Markus Wheaton off in the NFL, and he’s made a great transition to being Mannion’s top target. Cooks has caught 29 passes this year for 498 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s ranked in the top-three nationally in each of those statistical categories. The Oregon Ducks get all the credit for being the team with all the speed in the state of Oregon, but Cooks is one of the fastest receivers in the conference and has glue for hands (not literally).
How good is the San Diego State pass defense?
Uh, well, not very good, actually. The Aztecs are 103rd in the nation in terms of passing yards allowed per game. They actually gave up only 182 passing yards to Ohio State (though they were gashed on the ground), but surrendered 361 yards and three passing touchdowns to Easter Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo. And I’m going to guess Sean Mannion is a bit better than Jimmy Garoppolo, no offense.
What’s one area the Beavers need to focus on in this game?
Defense! The OSU defense, normally one of the strengths of the team, has looked awful this year. The Beavers are 109th in the nation in total defense, which is simply not going to cut it when they take on some of the tougher Pac-12 foes. The defense has rallied behind defensive coordinator Mark Banker, defending him from criticism, but it’s time to back up that talk with a good showing.
Wait, isn’t there some connection between Oregon State and San Diego State?
Yes! San Diego State head coach Rocky Long was the OSU defensive coordinator from 1991-1995. Osia Lewis, the defensive line coach for the Aztecs, not only played at OSU but was also the linebackers and special teams coach for a stint. And LeCharles McDaniel, the SDSU wide receivers coach, worked under current OSU coach Mike Riley in 2003 and 2004. Also, Riley had a brief stint in the NFL between gigs at Oregon State. The team he coached? The San Diego Chargers! Man, it is a small world after all.