Two weeks ago, Sean Mannion set a school record against the Utah Utes when he led the Oregon State Beavers to the thrilling win in Salt Lake City with five touchdown passes. This week, he broke his own record against the Colorado Buffaloes with six scoring strikes in a blowout win. While Mike Riley has struggled to get the rest of his team on the same page, Mannion is making a strong case to be the best quarterback in the Pac 12 and maybe all of college football.
Looking at his stats, it’s hard to argue against him. He’s thrown for 400 yards or more three times already this season and leads the nation in passing with 403.6 yards per game. He’s already surpassed the 2,000-yard mark in just five games and has thrown a nation-leading 21 touchdown passes to just two interceptions. He’s got almost 500 more yards passing and four touchdowns on the next nearest quarterback, giving him a nice early cushion for his college football-leading stat sheet.
And it’s been exactly what the Beavers have needed from him. Oregon State has struggled in the early going, losing their season opener to FCS Eastern Washington and narrowly beating Utah before needing a huge rally to get past the winless San Diego State Aztecs. Their defense has been porous and their running game non-existent as they have found some difficulty finding their identity in those areas. But while they figure themselves out defensively and in the running game, Mannion is carrying the load.
His production through the air has been the only saving grace for this Oregon State team through the first five games of the season. Without his out-of-this-world passing efforts, it isn’t hard to imagine the Beavers sitting at 1-4 heading into their bye this week. Instead, they’re 4-1 and 2-0 in conference play. Mannion has put this team on his back this season, becoming the most prolific passer in the nation and the Beavers are winning because of it.
If the rest of the team can catch up, Oregon State may still be a dangerous contender for the Pac 12 title. Until then, look for Mannion to keep leading the way with a prolific passing attack.