Oregon State looks for second win of season against Nevada
Oregon State will try to turn its victory last weekend into a streak of sorts when the team visits Nevada on Saturday.
The Beavers’ confidence has no doubt been boosted by a 48-25 victory last week against Southern Utah that snapped an 11-game losing streak dating back to last season.
Add to that the performance so far by freshman running back Jermar Jefferson, who rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns in the game. The only two Beavers in school history with more yards in a game were Bill Enyart, who holds the record with 299 in a game in 1968, and Steven Jackson, with 239 in a game in 2002.
Jefferson is averaging 142.5 yards a game, second in the nation and tops in the Pac-12.
With fellow running back Artavis Pierce out for four weeks with an injury, Jefferson is atop the depth chart for the game in Nevada, although coach Jonathan Smith said he’ll get others involved, too.
There are more questions for the Beavers at quarterback, with both Conor Blount and Jake Luton available to play, and Smith waiting to announce a starter until Saturday.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for us. Finish the nonconference, continue to improve and compete against a good football team that’s tough to beat, tough to beat at home,” Smith said.
Nevada is a 3.5-point favorite, the first time since 2006 that the Wolf Pack have been favored in the regular season against a Power Five team. Nevada is 6-34 all-time against Power Five opponents since moving to the top division in 1992.
Nevada is 1-1 overall this season, with a 72-19 rout at home against FCS-level Portland State in the opener and a 41-10 loss to Vanderbilt last weekend in Nashville.
“All of the things that happened in the game on Saturday are correctable, so we’re working on getting those cleaned up for this weekend. It’s going to be a very similar type of preparation for Oregon State,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said.
The Beavers have lost 20-straight games on the road.
HISTORY: The last time Oregon State visited Nevada back in 1999, coach Smith was the Beavers’ quarterback in a 28-13 win over the Wolf Pack. “I remember having the first experience with Dennis Erickson on the sideline during a game,” Smith said. It was Erickson’s first season with the Beavers, while Smith was a sophomore. That season would snap a streak of 28 straight losing seasons for Oregon State.
The Beavers have won all three previous meetings with Nevada.
LAST SEASON: The Beavers won only one game last season, but that doesn’t mean much to the Wolf Pack, who went 3-9 overall. Just like Nevada believes it has improved, the Beavers are thinking the same thing, safety Asauni Rufus said.
“I definitely see them as somebody who will give us fits, so we’re trying to work as hard as we can to watch film and play the right way,” he told reporters earlier this week.
ALL ABOUT THE D: Nevada has a 3-3-5 defensive look under defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. While generally unusual in college football, it’s not so much in the Mountain West: Rocky Long also employs that defense — which emphasizes athletic defensive backs — at San Diego State. Nevada’s D is led by a pair of senior safeties, Rufus and Dameon Barber.
CONNECTIONS: Luton and Nevada quarterback Ty Gangi were both transfers from Ventura College — Gangi in 2015 and Luton in 2016. Also, Beavers defensive line coach Legi Suiaunoa played linebacker at Nevada. Oregon State special teams coordinator Jake Cookus was also on the 1999 team with Smith.
BROADCAST CHANGE: The game will be broadcast on ESPNU rather than the planned digital broadcast on ESPN3 because of programming changes due to Hurricane Florence. Kickoff remains at 4 p.m. local time at Mackay Stadium.