OSU looks to avoid letdown
Beavers' upset of USC won't mean as much if they stumble against Arizona State
CORVALLIS - After winning an Oscar … after hitting the Megabucks jackpot … after romancing Jessica Alba … what more is left in life?
For Oregon State, beating Southern California 33-31 last Saturday was the Holy Grail. However, the remaining opponents won't roll over, and a bowl appearance isn't granted just because the Beavers - riding a three-game win streak - took down the nation's No. 3 team.
Five games remain in the regular season for Oregon State (5-3, 3-2 Pac-10), beginning with Saturday's home date against Arizona State (5-3, 2-3).
After that are road games at UCLA and Stanford, a home game against Oregon and the regular-season finale at Hawaii. The Warriors, who have won five in a row, beat Idaho 68-10 last Saturday and are 4-0 at Aloha Stadium.
'USC was a great win for us, one of the best this school has ever had,' Oregon State coach Mike Riley says. 'I want our kids to enjoy it and be proud of it. But we've already talked about getting ready to play the next game. Each week is a new miniseason. This game can be very humbling. You have to have the maturity to focus ahead after a big win.'
Arizona State, Riley says, 'is very much like us. They went through some rough times early and have bounced back with a couple of wins. It's going to be a hard game for us, I guarantee you. They'll come out as hungry as we are.'
The Sun Devils, a consensus pick to finish in the top four of the Pac-10, won easily over Northern Arizona, Nevada and Colorado before getting rolled by Cal (49-21) and Oregon (48-13). They began their resurgence with a 28-21 loss to SC before beating Stanford 38-3 and edging Washington 26-23 in overtime.
Quarterback Rudy Carpenter, a 6-2, 205-pound sophomore, is having a similar season to Oregon State's Matt Moore. Carpenter has completed 119 of 200 passes (60.3 percent) for 1,506 yards and 15 touchdowns with six interceptions. He ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in passing yardage and fourth in pass efficiency.
Moore has connected on 122 of 196 passes (62.2 percent) for 1,533 yards and seven TDs with six picks. He is fifth in both passing yardage and pass efficiency.
The Sun Devils have a balanced attack, the ground game keyed by tailback Ryan Torain, a 6-0, 215-pound junior who is third in the Pac-10 behind Cal's Marshawn Lynch and OSU's Yvenson Bernard with 712 yards rushing.
'I'm happy with our performance, but I'm sure we'll go into our (video) room tomorrow and find a lot of stuff we could correct,' OSU middle linebacker Alan Darlin said after the SC game. 'We could have played a lot better. The biggest thing for us is to not be complacent with where we're at. '
With a 13-game schedule, Oregon State needs seven wins for bowl eligibility. A victory over Arizona State would be a huge step toward that. But might the Beavers be in for a letdown after knocking off Southern Cal?
'We're going to fight that in every way,' Riley says. 'There is too much at stake. There is too much good going on in our program right now to get comfortable. We have to have a burning desire to keep getting better. This conference is tough. You're surprised by scores every week. (Last Saturday), our kids provided the biggest one so far.'