After a two-week hiatus, our series of opponent previews returns with a look at Oregon State, the last team to visit Husky Stadium this season.
OREGON STATE AT WASHINGTON, Saturday, Nov. 22 (Kickoff time TBA)
OSU LOCATION: Corvallis, Ore. (population 55,298 in 2013)
MASCOT: The Beavers.
2013 RECORD: 7-6 (4-5 in Pac-12). The Beavers got off to a dubious start, losing their season opener, 49-46, at home to Eastern Washington. They recovered well enough to win their next six games against fairly weak competition, but then lost five consecutive games -- to Stanford, Arizona State, USC, Washington and Oregon -- to finish the regular season with a 6-6 record. But a 38-23 victory over Boise State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl provided a positive end to the year.
COACH: Mike Riley (88-73 in 13 seasons at OSU and overall)
RETURNING STARTERS: 16 (7 on offense, 7 on defense and 2 on special teams, per the Pac-12 prospectus)
KEY RETURNERS: QB Sean Mannion (R-Sr.) (400-for-603 passing for 4,662 yards, 37 TDs and 15 INTs in 2013); WR Richard Mullaney (R-Jr.) (52 catches, 788 yards, 3 TDs); RB Terron Ward (Sr.) (113 carries, 521 yards, 5 TDs; 34 catches, 280 yards, 3 TDs); RB Storm Woods (R-Jr.) (127 carries, 477 yards, 6 TDs; 47 catches, 440 yards, TD); OL Isaac Seumalo (Jr.) (two-year starter); OL Sean Harlow (So.) (started as a freshman); DE Dylan Wynn (Sr.) (67 tackles, 5.0 TFL, sack); SS Tyrequek Zimmerman (Sr.) (104 tackles, 3.0 TFL, sack); LB Jabral Johnson (Sr.) (94 tackles, 3.5 TFL, sack, INT); FS Ryan Murphy (R-Sr.) (74 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 INTs); CB Steven Nelson (Sr.) (62 tackles, 6 INTs); LB Michael Doctor (R-Sr.) (missed most of 2013 with ankle injury; 26 career starts, 185 career tackles)
KEY LOSSES: WR Brandin Cooks (128 catches, 1,730 yards, 16 TDs; 32 carries, 217 yards, 2 TDs); OL Michael Philipp (started 48 games); DE Scott Crichton (47 tackles, 19.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks); CB Rashaad Reynolds (61 tackles, 3.5 TFL, sack, 6 INTs)
2013 STATISTICAL RANKS: 29th in Scoring Offense (34.8 points per game); 26th in Total Offense (467.0 yards per game); 3rd in Passing Offense (372.6 ypg); 115th in Rushing Offense (94.4 ypg); 90th in Scoring Defense (31.4 ppg); 100th in Total Defense (436.6 ypg); 84th in Passing Yards Allowed (246.3 ypg); 88th in Rushing Defense (190.3 ypg). Here is the full report.
BIGGEST 2014 PRIORITY: OSU has a few capable pass-catchers coming back, with Mullaney joined by a pair of tight ends (Connor Hamlett and Caleb Smith) and a pair of running backs (Ward and Woods) who each caught at least 25 passes in 2013, when Mannion set a Pac-12 record by throwing for 4,662 yards. But Cooks' departure obviously creates a void. Behind Mullaney, the next-most productive returning wide receiver -- not counting backs and tight ends -- is sophomore Malik Gilmore, who caught seven passes for 76 yards in 2013. Another sophomore, Victor Bolden, could play a significant role this season, though he caught only six passes as a freshman. Mannion's experience and talent should help ease this group along, but someone has to step up. ... The same can be said for the Beavers' offensive line, which lost three starters from last season and has been so thin at times throughout the last year that Riley declared it "a mess" during spring practices. Seumalo and Harlow anchor the group, but the Beavers lost a bunch of experience here -- those three departed seniors combined for 111 career starts -- and now must replace it with largely unproven commodities.
SCHEDULE NOTES: UW and OSU share a common nonconference opponent -- Hawaii -- whom the Beavers play on the road in Week 2 after opening against Portland State. San Diego State concludes OSU's nonconference schedule. That's no gimme, but a 3-0 start seems likely. Then, the Beavers play back-to-back road games, at USC and Colorado, before playing five of their final seven games at home (the road trips in that span are to Stanford and UW).
WASHINGTON-OSU ROSTER TIES: OSU's roster features nine players from Washington -- freshman OL Drew Clarkson (Camas); junior TE Kellen Clute (Spokane); senior TE Connor Hamlett (Edmonds); freshman OL Mason Johnson (Kent); freshman QB Nick Mitchell (North Bend); junior OL Josh Mitchell (North Bend); sophomore LB Caleb Saulo (Kent); junior TE Caleb Smith (Kent); sophomore OL Dustin Stanton (Marysville)
UW-OSU HISTORY: UW leads the series 60-34-4. The Huskies have won three of the last four meetings -- including last year's 69-27 blowout in Corvallis -- after OSU won six consecutive meetings between 2004-2009. UW lost to OSU just once between 1975 and 2000, including separate winning streaks of 10 and 13 games.
OREGON STATE'S BEST SEASON: Easy -- Oregon State went 11-1 in 2000, capping that effort with a 41-9 demolition of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The Beavers' only loss that year, you'll remember, was to UW at Husky Stadium on Oct. 7, a night game the Huskies won 33-30. Had OSU won, the Beavers likely would have played for the national championship. As it was, OSU finished in a three-way tie with UW and Oregon for the Pac-10 title, and the Huskies were awarded the Rose Bowl bid via tiebreaker.
HOW WAS SPRING BALL?: Catch up on the Beavers' fall camp position battles with the Oregonian.
WORTH READING: Mannion is one of a handful of Pac-12 quarterbacks who attended the Manning Passing Academy camp this summer as a counselor. He showed off his accuracy there.
NOTABLE NON-FOOTBALL GRADS: Here's a list from Wikipedia. Some highlights: Linus Pauling, chemist/author; Brian and Mike McMenamin, co-founders of McMenamins restaurant chain.
FOR COVERAGE: Gina Mizell covers Oregon State for the Oregonian.
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple