Oregon State home at last against Louisville

BY foxsports • September 17, 2010

Even the Oregon State Beavers were surprised this week when they were reminded they hadn't played a game at home since last November - unless you count the annual spring game.

The No. 25 Beavers' last real game at Reser Stadium was back on Nov. 14, 2009, when they beat Washington 48-21. After that they visited Washington State and Oregon before meeting BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. Then they opened this season with a 30-21 loss to TCU at Cowboy Stadium before a bye week.

But on Saturday afternoon, Oregon State (0-1) hosts Louisville (1-1).

''I'm very excited to come back here and play in front of the home crowd against a very good Louisville team,'' flanker James Rodgers said. ''I just want to go out there and play 120 percent and get the win.''

To say that the Beavers are eager to get back on the field - any field - is an understatement. Not only have the scheduling quirks kept Oregon State from home, there was the awkward bye just as this season was taking off.

''It seems like a long time since we've played a game,'' coach Mike Riley said. ''It's funny how that goes.''

The Beavers have a three-game losing streak to address and even a bit of revenge. In 2005, Oregon State visited Louisville and the then-No. 11 Cardinals won 63-27. It's been rare for the Beavers to yield that many points.

Riley says he doubts there's any players left from that team, but there certainly are coaches, himself included. He still stung from the loss, which he called a ''debacle.''

''But carrying revenge into a game, it's over once the kickoff starts,'' Riley said.

In the four seasons since winning the Orange Bowl, Louisville's fortunes have changed considerably.

The Cardinals have dropped nine straight road games dating to 2008, losing by an average margin of 19.3 points. They haven't beaten a ranked team on the road since 2007 at Cincinnati.

Louisville is rebuilding under first-year coach Charlie Strong, the longtime defensive coordinator at Florida. As such, he believes defense will be the key on Saturday.

''It's critical you take your defense with you because when you're on the road the crowd is a factor. The only way you can take the crowd out of the game is the defense has to play well,'' he said. ''You have to take your special teams, and then you take your togetherness. You've got to play as a complete team.''

Louisville's defense will be challenged by Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who is looking to break out at home after three straight games under 100 yards. That's an anomaly for the junior who averaged 111 yards last season.

The game will also be the home debut of quarterback Ryan Katz, who completed 9 of 25 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns against TCU, but also made a mental error late in the fourth quarter that resulted in a safety and all but handed the game to the Horned Frogs.

Louisville's offense is paced by quarterback Adam Froman, who threw for 219 yards and a touchdown in a 23-13 victory over Eastern Kentucky last weekend. Running back Bilal Powell ran for 92 yards and two scores.

Froman, a junior college transfer from California, has about 70 friends and family members making the trip north to watch him.

''When you play on the road in a hostile environment, you can't lose in the first half. You've got to stay close,'' Froman said. ''You're not going to go and blow somebody out in the first half. You've got to stay within a touchdown and in the second half you've got to outlast them.''

Oregon State popped into the rankings at No. 25 this week despite the bye and having lost to TCU, likely because the team put up an admirable fight against the Horned Frogs.

After Louisville, the Beavers visit No. 3 Boise State. But coach Riley dismissed the notion that this Saturday could be a classic ''trap'' game while Oregon State looks ahead.

''It's hard for me to believe that anyone on the inside of our place would ever think of this as a 'trap game.' This is our Super Bowl,'' Riley said. ''We really have to play our best every week.''

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