It's very difficult to predict the outcome of season-opening games in football. So much happens in the off-season, when changes are made to the coaching staff that often leads to changes in the style of play, new players are added and players mature.
That's part of the reason, I suppose, that I feel strongly that Oregon State is going to come out of Thursday night's opener at Minnesota with a victory, in spite of the fact that just about all the oddsmakers have them as 13-point underdogs.
The Beavers have new coordinators on both sides of the ball, a lot of new players and a new quarterback. How in the world can anybody know exactly what to expect from this Oregon State team? But there's one thing OSU must do: protect the new quarterback.
Darell Garretson had 11 career starts at quarterback for Utah State and the Beavers believe he's just the right guy to operate their offense. I hope that's true but they better take good care of him. Quarterbacks have never been more important than they are in today's football and in this case, with no proven depth at the position, the Beavers must treat Garretson like a precious commodity.
The last time I saw the Beavers I liked what I saw. They battled Oregon in the Civil War behind 174 yards on 19 carries from Ryan Nall. I liked Nall from the moment I saw him at Central Catholic -- he's a battering ram with stamina. I'm just happy he found his way to the running back position after thoughts about linebacker, tight end and H-back.
I'm saying right now OSU will be ready for opening night. Gary Andersen knows what he's doing. This isn't going to be a great season for the Beavers -- their schedule is too difficult. But I think they've got that thing in Corvallis headed in the right direction.
And that direction is to protect Garretson, get Nall a lot of carries, spread the ball out to an impressive group of receivers and play defense with ferocity. And oh yes, they aren't playing Michigan, they're playing Minnesota.