The 2013 season got off to a horrendous start for the Oregon State Beavers when they lost a 49-46 shootout to FCS Eastern Washington in Corvallis. But the Beavers bounced back and won their next six games behind one of the hottest offenses in the country led by quarterback Sean Mannion. Their high-flying passing attack allowed their defense to come together after a rough start to the season and gave Oregon State reason to believe they could contend for the Pac-12 title this season.
But those aspirations have come off the rails during a three-game losing streak that has the Beavers mired in a major slump. After getting bottled up by the Stanford Cardinal in a 20-12 heartbreaker, Oregon State got run off the field by the USC Trojans 31-14 before getting bullied by the Arizona State Sun Devils 30-17. Now at 6-4 on the season and just 4-3 in conference play, the Beavers are out of the conversation for the conference title and are sitting on the precipice of 2013 become a colossal disappointment.
The trouble started when the going got rough for Mannion and the passing game. Through the first seven games, Mannion was far and away the most prolific quarterback in the nation throwing the football. He was averaging an eye-popping 442.1 yards per game and eclipsed the 400-yard passing mark six times with 29 touchdowns to just four interceptions. In the last three games, however, he’s averaged only 289.3 yards per game with only four touchdowns and seven interceptions.
With defenses closing down the passing windows for Mannion, the Oregon State offense has been stuck in neutral. All season long, the Beavers’ running game has been missing in action and that lack of balance is coming back to bite them now. On the season, Oregon State is averaging just 69.5 yards per game on the ground, ranking No. 120 in the nation. With the passing attack grounded, Oregon State has found out that a lack of a secondary option is a tough way to win football games.
This week, Oregon State wraps up their home schedule against the similarly frustrated Washington Huskies in a game that will go a long way in determining the pecking order for bowl games this postseason. Can the Beavers break out of their slump and get their offense back on track or is their rut too deep to change course now?