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2017 Week 0: Which Team Will Pull Off an Upset?

August 22, 2017

 Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen

 

The first week of football usually produces matchups that have fairly predictable outcomes. But what looks like a yawner can turn out to be an embarrassment. Last season's openers were a cache of underdog victories.

 

Eastern Washington upset Washington State, Houston upset Oklahoma, Western Michigan upset Northwestern, Southern Miss upset Kentucky, South Alabama upset Mississippi State, Northern Iowa upset Iowa State and Richmond upset Virginia. 

 

A season opener upset, in reality, is not so surprising. We should be used to this by now. But we are not.  

 

In the land of college football kickers and officiating crews, a Saturday upset in late August is in the cards.

 

Let the hand wringing begin over who gets the Queen of Spades. 

 

Oregon State (+3.5) may make Colorado State the first victim of the 2017 season.

 

Despite the Rams' home field advantage—in a spanking new $220 million on-campus stadium, no less—there is still a gap between the talent in Corvallis and the talent in Fort Collins. There is also a gap in head coaching experience.

 

Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen was Utah State's head coach from 2009-12. He took over a fledgling program (that had not played in the postseason since 1997) from 4-8 in his first two years to 11-2 in his fourth year. 

 

Andersen landed in Madison, Wisconsin in 2013. The following year he took the Badgers to the 2014 Big Ten conference championship. Everything he has touched has produced winning results.

 

Andersen is now in his third year in Corvallis, Oregon. Andersen has big boy coaching experience on his resume.

 

Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo does not—he has a total of two years of head coaching experience.

 

Still, the Rams have improved their standings in the Mountain West (or have other Mountain West teams declined?) while the Beavers have been resigned to the Pac-12 basement for several years. The last time Oregon State went bowling was in 2013.

 

Last season, noticeable improvements were made on both sides of the ball. Oregon State still went 4-8, but the Beavers were more competitive. They hung around with Utah, Washington State, Stanford and UCLA before eventually losing in those highly contested games.  

 

The depth of the Beavers' backfield makes this Saturday's matchup against Colorado State intriguing. It is loaded and experienced. And it is facing a Rams' defense that yielded an average 214 rushing yards per game last year. Even if the Rams improve upon that 98th-national ranking, the Beavers should be able to gnaw through the Rams' front seven and move the chains with their quadruple threat. 

 

Thomas Tyner, a former 5-star running back prospect, took a medical retirement from the Oregon Ducks last year. Tyner could not rejoin the team this season because his scholarship had been allocated to another player. Tyner is scary fast but is also a very strong runner. 

 

Trevorris Johnson is a transfer from TCU. Despite having only two games with more than 10 carries last season, he still managed an impressive 5.5 yards-per-carry average.

 

True freshman Calvin Tyler was the 12th-ranked running back out of the state of Texas. He impressed so much during fall camp that he is expected to see significant action this fall, according to a Scout.com report. 

 

Veteran Ryan Nall is an all-conference running back candidate—he made Phil Steele's all-Pac-12 third team. 

 

The offensive line is less experienced so in theory, the running game should struggle. But the Beavers' line is hefty—their combined weight averages to over 300 pounds per lineman. But there's more.

 

According to tackle Blake Brandel, guard Gus Lavaka can "easily squat 700 pounds." 

 

In head coach Gary Andersen's third year, the team has bonded. The team has chemistry. And the Beavers have playmakers to help break in quarterback Jake Luton, a JUCO transfer who also started one game at Idaho in 2015. If the Beavers get that running game going, Luton will not be forced to put the ball up in the air. 

 

That 3.5 line favoring Colorado State is looking good.

 

For those who want to cash in on an upset. 

 

 

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