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Texas A&M Football

Around CFB: Oregon State's quest to end the Pac-12's playoff dreams

November 14, 2023

Beavers are perhaps best known for creating obstructions to interrupt flow.

No. 10 Oregon State aims to do just that over the next two weeks.

The Beavers (8-2, 5-2) still have a shot at reaching the Pac-12 championship game. They also have a shot at knocking Pac-12 deserters out of the College Football Playoff picture.

Here’s the scenario:

On Saturday, Oregon State faces No. 5 Washington (10-0, 7-0). The Huskies could lose and still find their way into the Pac-12 title game, but a loss would severely hamper Washington’s hopes for the playoff.

Next week, Oregon State plays No. 6 Oregon (9-1, 6-1) in Eugene. A second loss would all but eliminate the Ducks from the playoff discussion. Maybe it would eliminate Oregon from the Pac-12 title game, too.

Admittedly, winning either of those games is a tall order. Except, Oregon State is good.

The Beavers are ranked 10th in the latest AP Poll and were No. 12 in last week’s College Football Playoff ranking. They average 37.9 points to rank 14th in the nation in scoring behind quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, a Clemson transfer who has thrown for 2,254 yards and 20 touchdowns.

They also play decent defense, which is grossly uncommon in the Pac-12. Oregon State is ranked 31st in the nation in points allowed, with an average of 20.3.

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Jonathan Smith and Oregon State are 3-1 against AP Top 25 teams this season. 

Indeed, if not for a couple of three-point road losses, the Beavers could be in the national title discussion.

But what should really concern Washington is Oregon State has a nine-game winning streak in Corvallis that dates back to last season.

That includes beating Oregon last year and UCLA and Utah this season.

“It’s a big-time game,” said Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith, a former Beavers quarterback. “But you don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary in regards to your preparation. A lot of these games comes down to who doesn’t screw it up in regards to doing what you’re doing, being in the correct gap, running your route at the depth, going through a progression.”

The hope is to screw up the Pac-12’s quest to be represented in the four-team playoff.

Of course, Oregon State wants to win just to win. But surely, the Beavers would love to knock out two of the backstabbers who are leaving the Pac-12 from the playoff picture.

Next season, Oregon and Washington are headed to the Big Ten along with USC and UCLA.

Meanwhile, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State are departing for the Big 12. Cal and Stanford are going cross-country to join the ACC.

That leaves Oregon State and Washington State alone in the Pac-12.

Surely, they want to kick the Ducks’ and Huskies’ butts as they walk out the door.

Smith, though, suggested the Beavers won’t let emotion make them lose focus. Last week, they could’ve been looking ahead to Washington. Instead, they pulverized Stanford, 62-17.

“Credit those guys and their maturity and how they handled last week,” Smith said of his players. “(The Standard game was) Easy to be overlooked. Trap game kind of narrative. They came out and played awesome in the first half and left no doubt.

“Fast forward to this week. (I’m) Counting on this team to understand it’s about their process throughout the week getting ready and that not changing.”

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Since the College Football Playoff debuted in 2014, the Pac-12 has only been represented twice.

Oregon State could change the playoff picture, though.

Beating either Washington or Oregon could put the Pac-12 at serious risk of losing a playoff team.

Beating both would likely eliminate both. A one-loss Washington likely wouldn’t get in over a one-loss Texas, Alabama, Ohio State or Michigan.

The Pac-12 hopes to claim a national championship in its final season. Oregon State poses a major obstacle.

Damn Beavers.

Heisman Watch (If my ballot was due today)

1. Jayden Daniels, LSU, QB: He made a strong case as the “most outstanding player” in a 52-35 victory over Florida. He became the first quarterback in FBS history to pass for at least 350 yards and rush for at least 200 yards in a game. Daniels, who leads the nation in total offense, passed for 372 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 234 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 85 and 51 yards. Daniels has amassed 4,082 yards of total offense. That is 500 yards more than anyone else in the nation. He has passed for 3,164 yards and leads the nation with 30 touchdown passes. He has rushed for 918 yards and eight touchdowns. He has done that against better competition than any of his Heisman competitors.

2. Michael Penix Jr., Washington, QB: The nation’s leading passer had another strong showing last week. Penix threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-28 victory over Utah. He also had a rushing touchdown. He’s exceeded 300 passing yards in eight games. Penix has passed for 3,533 yards and 28 touchdowns.

3. Bo Nix, Oregon, QB: Not only has Nix led Oregon to a 9-1 record, but he also is ranked fifth in the nation in passing and total offense. He has been hot of late, too. In the last two games — victories over Cal and USC — he has passed for 798 yards and eight touchdowns. Overall, Nix has passed for 3,135 yards and 29 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 121 yards and five touchdowns.

4. Jordan Travis, Florida State, QB: He led the Seminoles to their tenth consecutive victory, but was unspectacular in doing so. Travis completed 19-of-31 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown. Good, but not great. That should make him lose some Heisman traction. He has passed for 2,734 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. He has rushed for 160 yards and seven touchdowns.

5. Drake Maye, North Carolina, QB: Maye is back in the rankings following a strong performance in a 47-45 victory over Duke. Maye passed for 342 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two scores. He’s third in the nation in passing and in total offense. Maye has passed for 3,145 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has rushed for 276 yards and eight touchdowns.

Predicted Playoff Participants

1. Georgia: The annihilation of Ole Miss should answer any remaining questions about the Bulldogs’ strength. And Ladd McConkey and Brock Bowers are now healthy.

2. Michigan: The Wolverines are so good it may not matter who is on the sideline.

3. Florida State: Only Northern Alabama and Florida stand between FSU and an undefeated regular season.

4. Washington: The Huskies already have one more win over Oregon. They may need another.

Games to Watch

No. 5 Washington at No. 12 Oregon State: The Huskies are trying to stay in the thick of the College Football Playoff picture, but Oregon State hasn’t lost at home. And the Beavers can score and play defense, too.

No. 2 Georgia at No. 13 Tennessee: Georgia has already won the SEC East, but wins in rivalry games cannot be taken for granted.

No. 25 Kansas State at No. 16 Kansas: Intra-state rivalry games are always fun, especially when the opponents are good.

No. 7 Texas at Iowa State: One-loss Texas still has College Football Playoff aspirations. Be careful, though. Iowa State isn’t bad, and the Longhorns have lost three of their last four games in Ames.

No. 11 Louisville at Miami: The 9-1 Cardinals can clinch a berth in the ACC championship game with a victory. Heck, they still have Playoff hopes. But a trip to Miami could be a trap with Louisville’s arch-rival Kentucky looming next week.

Editor’s note: This story was written and published before Tuesday night’s release of the third College Football Playoff rankings. Rankings in this story are from the latest AP Poll.

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