The Oregon State Beavers had already seen two of their best juniors declare early for the 2014 NFL Draft with wide receiver Brandin Cooks and defensive end Scott Crichton announcing they would skip their senior seasons in Corvallis. Luckily for Mike Riley and the Beavers, though, that might be the only major playmakers they lose early to the NFL Draft as quarterback Sean Mannion has confirmed he will return for his senior season in 2014, giving Oregon State a big arm to build around for next fall.
Mannion came into 2013 unsure about whether or not he would be the starting quarterback after suffering an inconsistent 2012 season due to a knee injury. But at 100 percent healthy, Mannion won the quarterback competition in fall camp and put together one of the best seasons under center in Oregon State history. The junior finished No. 2 in the country, averaging 358.6 yards per game as he threw for 4,662 yards with 37 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. He set several school and Pac-12 records throughout the season as he displayed what his big arm could do.
He will get a chance to add to his legacy in 2014 as a senior with a Beaver team looking to finish the season much stronger than they did in 2013. He’ll have to find a new favorite target with Cooks moving on to the NFL, though sophomore Richard Mullaney started to emerge as a viable big-play target this season and should be ready to make the transition to No. 1 receiver next fall. Mannion could also do with a big more production out of the running game to give the offense balance and prevent defenses from playing the pass exclusively as they did down the stretch in 2013.
With Mannion locked in for next season, Oregon State has a very good shot at taking a positive step forward next fall as a program. Will the veteran leadership under center be enough to make the Beavers a dark-horse pick for the Pac-12 North?
Just one short week ago, it looked like the Oregon Ducks‘ BCS title hopes as we knew it were gone. The Ducks were blown away against the Arizona Wildcats on the road and it wasn’t even close. While this team is still a legitimate threat and national power, the Ducks will be looking toward next season already.
Starting the season in the Top 25 rankings before losing to an FCS school, the Oregon State Beavers were supposed to challenge for a Pac-12 title, but they have done anything but. The loss to an FCS school was a sign of things to come as the Beavers have now lost four in a row and dropped to 6-5 on the season.
Oregon may still have one of the best offenses in the nation although it was held to just 16 points a week ago at Arizona. The Ducks are a scary team to play, even if they were blown out, scoring nearly 50 points per game. Marcus Mariota‘s Heisman hopes may have gone down the drain, but 3,127 yards and 27 touchdowns with just two interceptions on the season have been impressive nonetheless. Josh Huff has been his favorite target, catching 48 passes for 850 yards and eight touchdowns. Byron Marshall leads the 10th-ranked rushing attack with 995 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Oregon State has one of the top passing quarterbacks who has accounted for the third-ranked passing offense in the country. Sean Mannion has been solid all season long, passing for 4,089 yards and 34 touchdowns to go along with 13 interceptions. It’s not often you see a college quarterback throw as many passes, 523, as Mannion has through 11 games. Brandin Cooks has been one of the best wide outs in the nation, catching 110 passes for 1,560 yards and 15 touchdowns. The 120th-ranked rushing attack makes up for the strong pass game.
Defensively, Oregon had been solid all season long before struggling for the past three weeks, leading to a 1-2 record. Oregon ranks 21st in points allowed as well as 35th in points allowed per game. Oregon State ranks 95th in points allowed as well as 53rd in yards allowed per game.
Oregon State will travel to Oregon to take on the Ducks at 7 p.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 29. The game will be broadcasted on FOX Sports 1.
PREDICTION: Oregon State 20, Oregon 42