The Beavs’ first game is a home contest against Weber State. Under Riley, Oregon State has struggled in recent season openers — I especially remember the Sacramento State upset debacle in 2011. Not to mention, all eyes of Beaver Nation will be looking, so there will be pressure immediately to perform.
Game 2 is a little road game at Michigan at the Big House in Jim Harbaugh’s home coaching debut (the Wolverines open the week before at Utah). How crazy is that? I’m starting to think coach Riley looked at the schedule he made and said, “I’m outta here. Who’s got an opening? Nebraska? Honey, start packing!” Ann Arbor’s a tough enough place to play, and in his second game Andersen has to try and beat Harbaugh in his home opener? It helps that Andersen’s a former Big 10 head coach, but he never played Michigan at all in his two years at Wisconsin. And now this? My goodness.
The next week is a relative breather at home against San Jose State, but OSU will have a short week after that, opening the conference season against Stanford on a Friday. Fortunately, it’s also a home game, so the Beavs will get a bit of a break there, but come on!
After a week off, the Beavs’ first conference road game is at Arizona, the team that shot out of nowhere to win the Pac-12 South and be part of the New Year’s Six. The Wildcats have OSU to thank for that as well, for the Beavs’ signature win last season was the upset of Arizona State that opened the door for UA to eventually win the division.
The rest of the season doesn’t appear to let up at all. The next week OSU is at Washington State, and who knows what sort of wild things will be happening on the Palouse with Mike Leach. Then a home game against a Colorado team that appears to be on the road to decency, then away at a resurgent Utah, then home against a UCLA team that I think will be better without Brett Hundley at QB. Next is away against a Cal team looking for a breakthrough year, then home against Washington, and finally at Oregon in the standard Civil War regular-season finale.
That’s eight straight conference games against five teams that have a real good chance to be ranked when the Beavs take the field. Absolutely none of them are locks in the Beavers’ favor at this point. Maybe Riley really did look at the schedule and start looking for work. If coach Andersen gets this team to a bowl game, he ought to win coach of the year. Otherwise, it may very well be a long fall in Corvallis. Riley’s teams have pulled big upsets every year; can his successor do the same? Beaver Nation will be watching.