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#26 Oregon State Beavers 2014 – Preview

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Oregon State Beavers Preview – 2014

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Reminder for first time readers: The CFBMatrix is built on simplicity. For predictions and previews I use only my trends and rankings of Talent, Location (schedule) and Coaching. T.L.C.

Talent:

Oregon State is a great definition of range-bound recruiting. The last four years of recruiting classes ranked No. 48, No. 44, No. 42 and No. 43 is one of the best four-year stretches for the Beavers this century and has been consistent in spite of peaks and valleys in win totals. The downside to this consistency in the Pac 12 is that many teams have improved over the last five years and coaching improvement in the conference has been significant. They are the No. 5 recruiter in the Pac 12 North and return just two offensive linemen and lose their Biletnikoff Award winner. They do get back 78 percent of their total offense which is about average in the Pac 12 for 2014. The defense loses 42 percent of its key production stats from last season, including most of the defensive line. In a conference that returns 86 percent of its passing yards, that is a big concern in early games.

Coaching:

If you think that getting rid of a guy that was born and raised in Corvallis, loves Corvallis and has been your best long-term coach in your program’s history and one the top guys to win games with less talent in the country in the last decade, you are an idiot. Seriously, whenever the Beavers have a down season, I hear those rumblings. The problem is a down season is what an average coach would produce in Corvallis. Coach Mike Riley and his staff have been, in my opinion of reading the CFBMatrix tea leaves, has been nothing short of spectacular for a long time at OSU. Over the last six years, his Coach Effect is that of Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Mark Dantonio at plus-1.50 games per year. He is No. 11 overall in Coach Effect, No. 5 for guys with over five years of tenure and No. 4 in the Pac 12. He has been so consistent performing above his talent ranks that I just add two games to the win column when I predict the total for a season.

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Schedule:

This is how a lower level pover-5 conference recruiter with nine conference games needs to schedule. While almost wins at LSU or squeaking by Wisconsin at home in non-conference games are nice, they are not necessary and hurt perceptions and health early in the year. Some Beaver fans want a tougher non-conference schedule, because they are season ticket holders wanting a bigger bang for the buck, but 3-0–like they will start in 2014–is going to get folks a lot more excited. They need the tuneup as well, having lost a majority of their offensive and defensive lines. Portland State at home, Hawaii on the road and back to Beaver Stadium against San Diego State will all be wins, before heading into their first bye.

Out of the bye are back-to-back road games at USC in LA and the Buffaloes in Boulder. USC is going to be tough anywhere, but Sarkisian at home with Washington was solid. Beavers drop to 3-1, but get another win at Colorado. The Buffs are under talented against every Pac 12 opponent, and the Beavers must win this one as they move to 4-1. We can argue the merits of another bye in Week 7, but after back-to-back road games and five of the next seven being at home; I like its timeliness. Plus, the last seven go home, away, home, home, home, away, home. That is a great last seven no matter who they are playing.

All of the teams with talent levels near the Beavers on their schedule are at home in this stretch starting with the Utes in Week 8. But look out that does spell danger. There are trap games seemingly every other week, if OSU looks ahead. Matched up against Utah, I see equal talent but better coaching and home field makes this an easy pick to take the Beavs as they move to 5-1. Heading South to The Farm with less talent is nothing to bet on for any team. Riley is good but not better than Stanford’s talent and coach David Shaw in Palo Alto. The Beavs fall to 5-2 heading home to welcome Cal. This is a type of game that it must take care of at home. They are likely to never out-recruit Cal, but the Bears attrition and coach effect create a big enough effect to take the Beavers as the move to 6-2. Week 11 and the Cougars come to Corvallis. Played at Pullman, the CFB Matrix says take the Cougs, but the Beavers are slightly more talented, coaching is a wash and the schedule break at home pushes this to OSU. 7-2 and maybe in the top 25?

The third straight home game brings the Sun Devils to town. Like the previous game, if this in on the road the pick changes. This one is a huge game. I expect both teams to be looking at 7 to 8 win seasons with this game being a critical piece to the puzzle. In what I see as a coin flip game, I lean to the home field and coaching history of Riley and staff. 8-2 or 7-3? It’s funny how one game in a 12 game season can be so magnified. The last two for Oregon State, like last year, are easy picks at loss, loss. Washington has been historically tough in Seattle and the Civil War has under gone a transformation in the last seven years as the Ducks recruiting accelerated to a place that favors them in the CFB Matrix no matter where the game is played. Five wins on straight-up talent, two on talent with home field and another win from coaching to put Oregon State at 8-4 in 2014.

2014 Win Loss Schedule Pattern

W, W, W, bye, L, W, bye, W, L, W, W, W, L, L  Record projected 8-4 – 4th

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