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October 25, 2012
Oregon State comes to Seattle this weekend to face the troubled Washington Huskies.
Here's the scenario: The Huskies enter the match up fresh off of an Arizona beat down, 52-17 in the desert. It's a homecoming game for Washington, and last time they played an undefeated opponent at home was when they upset No. 8 Stanford.
Well, Oregon State beat Arizona in Tuscan 38-35, they're fresh off a win against Utah in their own homecoming game in Corvallis, and they come to CenturyLink Field undefeated and ranked No. 7 nationally. In other words, this Saturday is a tall task for Washington (3-4).
Here are five players they'll have to watch out for in order to avoid another Tuscan-like nightmare.
1) Jordan Poyer, CB
Leading the Beavers with five interceptions for 101 return yards and a touchdown, Jordan Poyer is great at turning offenses over. Combine that with a Husky team that is prone to fumbling and throwing picks at crucial moments in games and that makes a recipe for disaster. Poyer leads the Pac-12 in interceptions this season, and Keith Price is second to Colorado's Jordan Webb for worst QB rating in the conference, two more frightening stats when paired together.
2) Rashaad Reynolds, CB
Rashaad Reynolds is one of two leading tacklers on Oregon State's defense with 37 (tied with Michael Doctor), but 30 of those stops were solo tackles. Further, Reynolds also has the second most interceptions on the team with 2, and the second most return yards with 46 (second in both cases to Jordan Poyer's numbers). With Reynolds and Poyer running the defense, Price is going to have to really take good care of the football and make smart decisions when passing, otherwise he could be at risk of having more interceptions thrown than touchdowns. Currently he has thrown eight touchdowns but also eight picks.
3) Storm Woods, RB
On the offensive side, Storm Woods controls the ground game. He accounts for six touchdowns on 450 yards rushing, a 75 yard-per-game average. Woods is a consistent runner, but this is due in large part to the focus that has to be paid to the Beaver receivers. Whatever the Huskies do, they just can't forget about him.
4) Markus Wheaton, WR
With that said, it's easy to forget about the run game when a team has two wide receivers who have both have more than 600 yards receiving. The first of those two for the Beavers, Markus Wheaton, has caught for 654 yards on 48 receptions. He has also reached the end zone six times. Wheaton is a senior and will be looking to use his veteran skills to break an easily breakable UW secondary.
5) Brandin Cooks, WR
Brandin Cooks is the other receiver on the roster with over 600 yards, hauling in a team high 667 yards. He has 13 fewer receptions than Wheaton, and has only scored two touchdowns, yet still leads the Beavers with a 19.1-yard average per reception. Cooks and Wheaton rank fourth and fifth respectively in the Pac-12 conference receiving yards this season.
Washington is going to need momentum against the Beavers, something that they have given away at costly times in their past few games. The key will be to clean up the amount of turnovers, as well as minimize defensive lapses (especially in the secondary). If the Dawgs can hang tight with Oregon State, they may have a very good chance at taking out another highly-ranked team in front of an anxious home crowd.
Keep in mind that the Beavers, despite impressive stats accompanied by an impressive record, have only beaten two ranked opponents all year long, and both wins were against Wisconsin (13) and UCLA (19) in their first two games of the season. Overrated? We'll find out Saturday.