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Comback Trail: Beavers Conquer Hawaii, Set Sights On Utah

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Oregon State head coach Mike Riley and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham will meet again Saturday. Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images.
Oregon State head coach Mike Riley and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham will meet again Saturday. Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images.

After what head coach Mike Riley called a “debacle” loss against Eastern Washington, Oregon State football took a step in the right direction against Hawaii on Saturday, downing the Warriors, 33-14, in Corvallis.

It wasn’t a no-doubt win, at least to start. The Beavers jumped out to a 14-0 lead before handing 14 points back to Hawaii by halftime, one of the touchdowns a 23-yard interception return on a poor decision by quarterback Sean Mannion.

But that was it as far as mistakes from the Beavers. Mannion finished with 372 yards passing and four touchdowns, his seventh in two games. He sits second in the country in total passing yards (794).

The Beavers defense bounced back after giving 46 points to EWU, allowing Hawaii just seven points on 239 total yards. They even threw a safety in the mix.

For Oregon State, so far so good on the comeback trail. On Saturday, the Beavers begin Pac-12 play at Utah. There are a couple hurdles, however.

They’ll be fighting the injury bug, especially on the offensive line. Against Hawaii, tackle Grant Enger suffered an MCL tear (likely out for the season), and Roman Sapolu is slated to miss at least a couple weeks. That said, freshman All-American Isaac Seumalo will move from center (sophomore Josh Mitchell will take his spot) to right tackle, and redshirt freshman Grant Bays will make his first collegiate start at right guard, according to the Oregonian’s Connor Letourneau. That leaves two players as backups.

From Letourneau:

It's a predicament Mike Cavanaugh [offensive line coach] called "absolutely" unprecedented in his 26-year coaching career. And it means OSU may have to finally burn Harlow's redshirt, a scenario Cavanaugh desperately hoped to avoid.

Utah will attack the shuffled line, something to consider if Mannion hopes to keep racking up yards. Maybe Storm Woods will be more effective on the edges against Utah.

As far as game predictions, look for Mike Riley and the offense to try to establish the run, something that went missing in the season’s first two games (Woods has just 118 yards on 33 carries). Oregon State’s defense will need to key on efficient passer and runner Travis Wilson (31-of-57 passing, 102 yards rushing).

A win would propel the Beavers over the “can’t stop a running quarterback” hump that so many of Oregon State supporters are talking about. If last week's defensive performance was any indication (granted, it came against a pocket passer), we won't see a repeat "debacle" from the Beavers.