New Mexico is a tougher opponent than might meet the eye. The Lobos have a blitzing, gambling defense laden with seven seniors, a savvy quarterback in Casey Kelly and a scary tailback in sophomore DonTrell Moore. The place-kicker, Wes Zunker, has made 15 of 17 field-goal attempts and was perfect inside 40 yards. And the coach, Rocky Long, has a little extra incentive going against the school at which he coached for five years, even if he won't say so.

The Beavers must protect QB Derek Anderson. It would be nice if they could spring Steven Jackson for some sizable gainers, something they haven't been able to do against good defensive fronts. And the OSU defense, which didn't play well against Oregon and USC after serving as one of the Pac-10's best most of the season, has to come back to life.

The Pac-10 is better than the Mountain West, and that should mean something. OSU's passing game is in high gear, and as long as Mike Hass' ankle allows him to operate as normal, the Beavers should move the ball well enough through the air to win. But it will be anything but easy.

THE PICK: Beavers 27, Lobos 21

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