With The Oregon State Beavers Left In Limbo, How Are They Expected To Perform This Season?

By ANNA MILLER, OREGON SPORTS NEWS

Flashback to the 2022 College Football season, and the Oregon State Beavers football team went 10-3 overall. Besting Oregon in the annual rivalry game, Oregon State was cementing itself as a football powerhouse. In the 2023 season, the Beavers’ record fell to 8-5, but they were still towards the top of the overall CFB rankings.

Part of the reason for that lesser record could be all of the uncertainty that the 2023 season brought for the future of Oregon State football. Following a 161 million-dollar remodel of the Beavers’ home field, Reser Stadium, the Pac-12 conference began to crumble. First, UCLA and USC went to the Big Ten, and Oregon and Washington followed shortly after that. With Pac-12 teams switching conferences — primarily for monetary benefit — Oregon State and Washington State were left in the rubble.

The Beavers and the Cougars are the sole survivors of the Pac-12, a fractured conference with little funding and no headlining teams. This made scheduling for the pair extremely complicated, but in a deal with the Mountain West Conference, the Beavers have been granted a new schedule with some fresh opponents.

By analyzing the Beavers’ schedule, it is probable to predict that Oregon State will end with a 9-3 record. While the new opponents may not be up to par with that of the previous conference, there are still some challenging matchups ahead that Oregon State needs to win if it wants to make a postseason push.

Game 1: vs. Idaho State

Prediction: Win

This game will be a smooth introduction to the 2024 Beavers season for fans and players alike. Oregon State can showcase the team under its new leadership and its new roster after losing most of its starting talent last season. With Former head coach Jonathan Smith abandoning ship to be a coach in the Big Ten for Michigan State, Trent Bray is now at the helm and will likely have some growing pains. However, the Beavers can easily pull a win out of this opening game day, starting their record on a positive note while adjusting and figuring out their starting players.

Game 2: at San Diego State

Prediction: Win

San Diego State posted a 4-8 overall record in the 2023 season, finishing last in the Mountain West Conference. With Oregon State coming from a stronger conference and maintaining a more talented roster, the Beavers can expect to leave San Diego with two wins under their belt.

Game 3: vs. Oregon

Prediction: Loss

This is one of the only games in Oregon State’s schedule that feels like a near-guarantee of a loss. Obviously, an Oregon-Oregon State matchup is necessary for each team’s schedule, but this year’s matchup feels more lopsided. Oregon is projected to be a top-5 team in the country this season, with a stellar lineup and solid transfer portal pickups. The Beavers will likely be a strong team this season, despite all the adversity it has faced in its conference, but the Ducks are just too strong of a team to predict Oregon State would beat them. With a storied history of winning this rivalry, Oregon will likely take this one and add the Beavers to another team it will take down this season.

Game 4: vs. Purdue

Prediction: Win

Purdue is another team hailing from the stacked Big Ten Conference. However, the Boilermakers are not a powerhouse in this conference. Purdue is a dull football team in a shiny conference, and Oregon State is a shiny team in a lackluster conference. That said, the Beavers — especially at home — can expect to bounce back from the Oregon loss with a win over the Boilermakers.

Game 5: vs. Colorado State

Prediction: Win

By Game 5, Oregon State will likely have fallen into its official starting roster, and players will be getting more comfortable in their roles. Incoming quarterback Gabbari Johnson, a transfer from Missouri, has a lot of necessary growth in the offseason and the opening matchups to prepare for the rest of the season. Although he transferred from Missouri, he did not play a single minute in his freshman season, so he’s unaware of the pressure of a collegiate football game outside of from the sidelines. While Colorado State isn’t necessarily the opponent that will challenge Johnson and the Beavers offense, it will serve as a solid halfway point in the season to assess the team’s progression. That being said, Oregon State can exit from this matchup victorious.

Game 6: at Nevada

Prediction: Win

Nevada is one of the worst teams in the country, with a 2-10 overall 2023 record in the Mountain West, finishing just below Colorado State in the conference. Besting only San Diego State and New Mexico, the Wolf Pack are clearly not going to be the Beavers’ strongest opponent, and they can definitely come back home with a win.

Game 7: vs. University of Nevada Las Vegas

Prediction: Win

UNLV is the first Mountain West team Oregon State will play that landed at the top of the conference last season, finishing with a 9-5 record and worthy wins over Wyoming and the Air Force. One trick up the Beaver’s sleeve is wide receiver Darrius Clemons, a Portland native who spent the first two years of his collegiate career with the University of Michigan. The Wolverines played against the Rebels with Clemons on the roster, so with his recent experience playing against UNLV and Oregon State not playing against the Rebels since 2009, the Beavers can pull out the win, even if UNLV is projected to be a strong contender in the Mountain West.

Game 8: at the University of California Berkeley

Prediction: Loss

This is a controversial pick to be an Oregon State loss, but it could go either way. Berkeley is a strong competitor, the toughest the Beavers will face since Oregon. Additionally, the Golden Bears pulled out a dominant victory over now-Big Ten team UCLA, one that proved themselves to be worthy competitors. With the game being hosted in Berkeley, ultimately, California can sneak a win past Oregon State.

Game 9: vs. San Jose State

Prediction: Win

In the College Football Power Index for this season, San Jose State is projected right below San Diego State. The Spartans ended second in the Mountain West in the 2023 season with wins over six of eight in-conference opponents. However, the Beavers faced San Jose State last season, dominating 42-17. There isn’t any expectation that Oregon State will fall flat in this year’s matchup and the Beavers will win the rematch.

Game 10: at Air Force

Prediction: Win

The Mountain West conference is not the strongest in the league if it isn’t clear from the rest of these predictions. Oregon State is coming from a packed Pac-12, with teams now spread across different conferences poised to end up towards the top of the league. The Air Force fits within the reputation of the Mountain West, finishing 9-4 in the 2023 season and winning its bowl game. However, these stats likely do not culminate in a victory over the Beavers.

Game 11: vs. Washington State

Prediction: Win

Like the Berkeley matchup, this one felt like a toss-up but ultimately was added to the win column due to the home advantage. These two teams have endured the same adversity over the last year, abandoned by their conference and left out to dry. That said, Washington State is coming off of an injury-riddled, second-to-last conference finish season, hoping to have a more successful 2024 season. The Cougars have some solid transfers coming in, but overall, the turnaround from last season isn’t expected to be drastic. With Oregon State hosting the only in-conference game of the season, it’s probable to assume the Beavers will take the win.

Game 12: at Boise State

Prediction: Loss

Boise State is coming into its 2024 season with a powerful offense driven by many five-star recruits. Incoming USC transfer Malachi Nelson has extremely high expectations set on him and wide receiver Chris Marshall has enough collegiate experience in the SEC to bring success to the Mountain West. Ashton Jeanty is an additional five-star for the Broncos, poised as one of college football’s best playmakers of the season. While historically, Oregon State would win this matchup, there is a lot of talent in the Boise State roster, and it will likely overpower that of the Beavers.

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This is all to say that college football is unpredictable, and while I’m predicting a 9-3 record, someone else could predict 6-6. Playing against a new conference is a sign of new beginnings for Oregon State, for better or worse. This season will test the Beavers’ ability to adapt to new environments and rise to the occasion — and if they succeed, who knows what the future of Oregon State will be.

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