Oregon State at Purdue
Here’s an early look at Purdue’s first opponent in 2021, the Oregon State Beavers:
Time: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
Location: Ross-Ade Stadium
Surface: Natural Grass
Series notes: Purdue and Oregon State have met just once and that occured on Oct. 21, 1967, with the Beavers pulling a 22-14 upset of then No. 2-ranked Purdue in front of a Homecoming crowd of 60,147 in Ross-Ade Stadium. It was one of just two losses for coach Jack Mollenkopf’s team that season. The Beavers, coached by Dee Andros, had the distinction of being the only team to ever go undefeated against three “top-2” team in the same beating No. 1 and eventual national champ USC 3-0 and tying No. 2 UCLA 16-16. They were aptly named “The Giant Killers.” The Beavers finished the season ranked No. 7 with a 7-2-1 record, and has only been ranked higher once at the end of a season once since (2000, No. 4).
TV: FS1 (Cory Provus, play-by-play; Robert Smith, analyst
Early line: Purdue -7
Radio (Purdue): SIRIUS 104 XM 195/ Tunein.com (Tim Newton, play-by-play; Pete Quinn, analyst; Rob Blackman, studio host, Kelly Kitchel sidelines)
Pregame: Gold and Black Radio
Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith
Oregon State rushing versus Purdue against the run
Coach Jeff Brohm has expressed concern about the physical nature of Oregon State’s front line and its desire to run the football. And on paper, the Beavers have some weapons. Expect fourth-year coach Jonathan Smith to rotate three backs on Saturday night. Keep your eye on Deshaun Fenwick (No. 5), the South Carolina transfer. He is nearly 230 pounds and a guy you need to get to early averaging 5.4 yards per carry for the Gamecocks in three seasons of limited play.
Purdue defensive run numbers in 2020 actually weren’t all that bad, giving up just 3.4 yards per carry. it will need to stay at that level or better in 2021. Still, the slight advantage will be to the visitors as the Beavers were one of the best in making positive yardage plays in the Power 5 in 2020.
Oregon State passing game versus Purdue against the pass
Smith announced early this week that Colorado transfer Sam Noyer will get the nod at quarterback. Noyer started six games with the Buffs last year, and led them to a 4-0 start, but an offseason shoulder injury pushed him to the portal.
Purdue expects to be able to put more pressure on the QB this year with a healthy George Karlaftis at defensive end. If that happens, it will go a long way towards improving the overall pass defense which was in the bottom quartile of the Power 5 statistically..
Oregon State has to replace its top receiver from last year, but returns seven of its top eight producers. Purdue will be focused on Tre’Shaun Harrison (0), a Florida State transfer who was productive after becoming eligible for the last two games for the Beavers in 2020. Ultimately, this category may be where the contest is won and lost.
Purdue run game versus Oregon State against the run
Like of offense, Oregon State believes its strength is in its line. Conversely, Purdue hopes its biggest area of improvement offensively is its line play and subsequent ability to run the football when it needs to. Expect coach Jeff Brohm to find to mix it up and use different personnel than Zander Horvath and King Doerue to move the football. Yet, Horvath was very productive in 2020 and Doerue’s return to health should be a big plus.
It’s just hard to know how much Purdue will try to run the football, but if it can keep the Beavers’ D off balance, it can be efficient and effective. Last season, OSU’s opponent ran an average of nearly six yards per attempt, so the Boilermakers should have opportunity here.
Purdue passing game versus Oregon State against the pass
Jack Plummer is the guy at quarterback and figures to have at least three really good weapons in David Bell, Milton Wright and Payne Durham in the passing games. This HAS to be Purdue’s strength, one would think, if the Boilermakers are going to achieve their goals this season.
Emotions will be running high Saturday and our guess is Brohm will be trying showcase his return to more of a higher risk/reward offense, which may include several deep routes. Oregon State only averaged a sack a game in 2020, so Plummer figures to have time. Opponents also managed nearly 63 percent completions against the Beavers’ secondary. Look for Purdue to try to exploit this early and often.
Oregon State’s special teams improved a great deal as a unit last year. Kicker Everett Hayes connected on 71 percent of his field goals last year (long 48). Punter Luke Loecher won the job in mid-season last year.
Purdue will have a new punter in Jack Ansell and place-kicker in Mitchell Fineran, so if first game jitters are cleared, the Boilermakers figure to be solid there.
Still, this category is a complete guess on who has the advantage. But one thing seems likely, special teams will be a factor in the opening game.
It stands to reason Purdue will have a big advantage here with a near sold-out crowd with two years of pent-up energy. Oregon State is a veteran team (but isn’t everybody after a free year of eligibility due to COVID-19?) and has a lot to prove. But so does Purdue, and the Boilermakers are likely tired of hearing about the lack of success dating back to the 2019 season and ready to prove this program is on it way up.
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