RENO, Nev. - After opening the season with a lopsided 77-31 loss at Ohio State, Oregon State rebounded to snap an 11-game losing streak with a 48-25 victory over FCS member Southern Utah last week. The Beavers and first-year head coach Jonathan Smith will now set their sights on trying to end another pair of ugly losing streaks on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Nevada.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: Nevada -3.5
The Beavers have lost their last 12 against FBS schools and have also dropped 20 consecutive road games dating back to a win at Colorado in October of 2014. Their final four road games of the season are all Pac-12 contests, three of them against nationally ranked teams (Arizona State, Stanford and Washington) as well as Colorado so this might be Oregon State's best shot at ending the road drought this season. Nevada, which opened its season with a 72-19 win over FCS member Portland State, comes in off a 41-10 loss at Vanderbilt but returns 15 starters, including quarterback Ty Gangi, from a 3-9 squad and has won four of its last five games at Mackay Stadium with the lone loss coming to Air Force, 45-42. "It's a tough place to play," Smith said. "I have been there a couple of times as a coach and a player. It's always a tough environment."
ABOUT OREGON STATE (1-1)
The win over Southern Utah was a costly one for the Beavers who lost starting tailback Artavis Pierce, who ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns at Ohio State, for at least a month to an elbow injury. Jermar Jefferson, a 5-foot-10, 211-pound freshman, filled in nicely for Pierce in the win over Southern Utah, running for four TDs and 238 yards, the third-highest rushing total in school history. Smith was giving equal reps at quarterback in practice this week between Jake Luton, who started the opener at Ohio State but left early with a concussion, and Conor Blount, who started and led the Beavers to 41 first-half points against Southern Utah before giving way to Luton, and said he wouldn't name a starter until the end of the week.
ABOUT NEVADA (1-1)
The athletic Gangi runs the Wolf Pack's Air Raid offense and ranks fourth in the Mountain West in passing with an average of 279 yards per game. His top targets are junior wide receiver Kaleb Fossum (12 catches, 195 yards) and sophomore McLane Mannix (10-218, 3 TDs). Sophomore safety Nephi Sewell leads the Wolf Pack's 3-3-5 stack defense, averaging 5.5 tackles per game to go along with a team-best three tackles for loss.
1. Oregon State leads the series 3-0 with the last win coming in Reno on Sept. 4, 1999, 28-13, as Smith completed 21-of-43 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown in former head coach Dennis Erickson's debut.
2. Oregon State's offense has already racked up 15 plays of 25 or more yards from scrimmage in its first two games.
3. Jefferson (7th, 285 yards) and Pierce (16th, 259) both rank among the nation's leaders in rushing yards. No other Pac-12 player ranks in the top 25.
PREDICTION: Oregon State 45, Nevada 38
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