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The Ducks won a wild won in Pullman while the Beavers hope their defense stays stout against Utah.

PMG PHOTO: RALEIGH EMERSON - Oregon State football's Jam Griffin (8) runs for a touchdown against USC in the fourth quarter Sept. 24, 2022, at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.

Oregon State finds itself with answers and questions after a competitive, disappointing, 17-14 loss to the visiting USC Trojans on Saturday, Sept. 24. It was a wire-to-wire contest with the No. 7 ranked Los Angeles based team, with the difference being a quartet of Chance Nolan interceptions.

This loss was painful.

"The crowd made a huge difference, that atmosphere (was) jumping, can't thank Beaver Nation enough for that," OSU coach Jonathan Smith said. "Wish we could have come and got it done for them. There's going to be a lot to learn from, so we're going to stick to our process going back tomorrow and take a look at this film and learn from it. This one stings in a big way. But credit to the opponent, those guys are good. They kept battling for 60 minutes and they finished the game."

The challenge remains tough as the Beavers (3-1) visit Utah (3-1) on Oct. 1. Their defense from the matchup with the Trojans is something the Beavers hope carries over into the matchup with the Utes, the defending conference champs.

The best example against USC came in the fourth quarter. After USC intercepted Nolan for the third time and took over on its own 5-yard line, Oregon State forced a three-and-out, making the Trojans punt the ball away from their own 2-yard line. That punt only went 33 yards and set up a go-ahead Jam Griffin touchdown with 4:41 to go in the game.

That kind of defensive stand is what the Beavers were missing last season, but they showed the 2022 version is capable of slowing down the best of the best. It won't be much easier on the road at Utah, but the defense has proved it's ready for the big time. Now OSU just needs Nolan to make better decisions in the spotlight.

"I thought a couple of times the pocket was getting squeezed on him and errant misses in the middle of the field turns into a turnover," Smith said of Nolan's game against USC. "The deep ball to Tyjon (Lindsey) toward the end, we're taking a shot, I think that's a great play by the DB. When we're throwing the deep ball, and again, he got tackled inside the four and kind of flipped the field position there. But we have to protect him better and he's got to make better decisions interior-wise and be more accurate with it."

— Tanner Russ

PMG PHOTO: RALEIGH EMERSON - Oregon football's Bo Nix attempts a pass against BYU on Sept. 17, 2022, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

Ducks show resiliency

College football seasons often are defined by handling the roller-coaster nature of the sport.

In that department, the Oregon Ducks have earned high grades early in the Dan Lanning career.

A win like last weekend's at Washington State — a game Oregon trailed by 12 points late and scored 22 points in the final 2:48 — is the kind of experience that should do wonders for the Ducks belief in themselves and each other.

That said, Lanning and his young staff faces a new challenge this week — and not only getting his players to turn the page after such an emotional victory.

Stanford, which visits Autzen Stadium at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 (FS1 TV), has long been a tough foe for Oregon and David Shaw is as seasoned a coach as there is in college football. The Cardinal already are 0-2 in conference and figure to be in a determined frame of mind after getting pushed around at Washington.

That said, we are starting to see that this Oregon team has the athletes to overcome what they lack in discipline and experience.

For example, the emergence of Bucky Irving as a running back. The sophomore from Chicago, a transfer from Minnesota, has emerged among Oregon's deep and diverse group of running backs as a reliable player. The last two games, the 5-10 Irving has 178 rushing yards on 25 carries. But his big play at WSU was his fourth-down catch on Oregon's next-to-last drive in its comeback.

Lining up wide left and defended by a linebacker, Irving cut to the middle of the field and got just enough separation to haul in a throw from Bo Nix. Without that play, Oregon isn't 3-1 and the discussion around the program has a different feel.

Of course, Irving is benefitting from Oregon's most experienced unit: the offensive line that has not yet given up a sack this season and is averaging 198 rushing yards a game and 298 passing yards.

In addition to taking advantage of the offensive-line play, Nix has found a big-play receiver in Troy Franklin. The sophomore has two 50-yard plays among his team-high 20 receptions, including the touchdown that gave Oregon its first lead with 1:21 left at Washington State.

Lanning said after the win at WSU that his defense must be better. Opponents are throwing for more than 300 yards per game against Oregon, a number that in part reflects the pass-happy foes Oregon has seen, but it's a number the Ducks can't be happy with.

The Stanford game is a homecoming of sorts for Cardinal running back Casey Filkins (Lake Oswego) and receiver Silas Star (Central Catholic).

— Paul Danzer

Portland State finally at home

Licking wounds from a rugged first month, 0-3 Portland State will play the first of three consecutive home games at Hillsboro Stadium when Northern Arizona (1-3, 0-1 Big Sky after a home loss to Idaho) visits at 2 p.m. Oct. 1.

Second-ranked Montana blitzed the Vikings with 22 points in the final 5:02 of the second quarter, a spurt included some poor special teams play from PSU and turned a three-point game into a runaway.

Anthony Adams, Portland State's All-American DB, missed the Montana game with an injury.

Quarterback Dante Chachere was replaced in the second half by Mike Irwin. Combined, the Viking QBs threw for 103 yards and PSU finished with less than 200 yards of offense.

The good news? Besides getting to play at home, Portland State is unlikely to face t he kind of defenses its seen in its losses at Washington and at Montana.

— Paul Danzer

Northwest Conference play begins

There is plenty of small college football in the area to choose from on Oct. 1, the first day of Northwest Conference play. Lewis & Clark takes a 3-0 record into a 1 p.m. home game against Whitworth (2-1). Pacific (1-1) plays host to Willamette (2-1) at 1 p.m., Linfield (2-0) hosts Puget Sound (1-2) at 1:30 p.m. and George Fox (3-0) welcomes Pacific Lutheran (1-2) at 4:30 p.m.

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