Storm Woods

Beavers leading rusher ‘very likely’ lost for rest of regular season

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Oregon State’s upset of Arizona State this past weekend has come with a rather steep price tag.

According to head coach Mike Riley, Terron Ward sustained a knee injury in Saturday night’s surprise win that pulled the Beavers to within a game of becoming bowl-eligible.  Riley said it’s “very likely” the running back will miss the final two regular season games against Washington and Oregon.

“Terron is a good football player,” the coach said. “He is all over the place on our team, so when you lose a guy like that, it takes about (three) guys to replace him.”

Ward currently leads the team with 696 yards rushing, and he has 10 of OSU’s 18 rushing touchdowns. In the win over the Sun Devils, Ward rushed for a career-high 148 yards.

The senior is also tied for third on the team with 29 catches coming out of the backfield.

Storm Woods is second on the team with 591 yards and four touchdowns, and will be expected to take over a sizable chunk of the running game.

Oregon State stuns No. 6 Arizona State to throw the Pac-12 South race into chaos

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The first words Todd Graham said to his team after last week’s win over Notre Dame was a warning about what awaited them in Corvallis. He reminded them all week that they were walking into a trap. And it didn’t work.

Oregon State rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to stun No. 6 Arizona State 35-27 to throw the Pac-12 South race into absolute chaos and rip the Sun Devils’ national championship hopes to shreds.

The loss means that Arizona, Arizona State, USC and UCLA are all tied with two losses atop the Pac-12 South. UCLA controls its destiny thanks to its 62-27 demolition of the Sun Devils back in September, but Arizona State would re-take control if USC manages to knock off UCLA on Saturday.

As for tonight, though, this is one Arizona State gave away. The Beavers broke two long runs, 78 yards by Storm Woods and 66 yards by Teron Woods, to build a 14-3 lead 10 minutes into the game, but the Sun Devils notched three unanswered touchdowns to close the half with a 24-14 lead. However, Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez missed a 30-yard field goal, and Taylor Kelly threw an interception. This is called foreshadowing.

Arizona State’s offense – not the Beavers’ – went into hibernation in the second half, mustering only a 29-yard field goal. Meanwhile, Sean Mannion hit Victor Bolden to pull Oregon State within 24-21 in the third quarter, and found Jordan Villamin for a 67-yard catch-and-run to give the Beavers a 28-27 lead with 10:55 to go.

Eight minutes later, Arizona State was driving for the lead instead of protecting it thanks to Gonzalez’s miss, and Kelly was intercepted by Michael Doctor, who raced it 35 yards for the exclamation point touchdown.

Arizona State held its own through the air, out-passing the Beavers 264-251, but got pummeled on the ground, 264-103. Couple that with two costly interceptions and that’s how upsets happen.

Arizona State will return home to face Washington State on Saturday before closing at Arizona on Black Friday, while Oregon State will hope to keep the magic rolling at Washington and then in the finale against No. 2 Oregon.

No. 6 Arizona State uses big plays to take 24-14 halftime lead at Oregon State

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While you were watching Florida State escape – again – against Miami, No. 6 Arizona State waded into upset waters, falling behind Oregon State 14-3 10 minutes into a cold night in Corvallis.

The Sun Devils got three unanswered touchdowns to close the half, two on Taylor Kelly touchdown passes and the third on a sack/fumble returned 36 yards by Antonio Longino to take a 24-14 lead into the break.

Arizona State could have pushed the lead to 34-14, but Zane Gonzalez missed a 30-yard field goal and Kelly was intercepted by Tyrequek Zimmerman to close the half.

Oregon State took the lead on a 78-yard scoring dash by Storm Woods at the 11:17 mark of the first quarter, and extended it on a 66-yard run by Terron Ward. Oregon State has just 105 yards on 33 snaps outside those two plays.

Oregon State will receive the ball to open the second half.

Storm damage: Beavers lose RB, WR in double-OT loss to Utes

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Oregon State’s punch-to-the-gut loss to No. 20 Utah in a couple of extra sessions Thursday night was exacerbated by a pair of injuries to key offensive playmakers.

The most serious of those appears to be to Richard Mullaney, who suffered an elbow injury in the second half of the 29-23 double-overtime loss to the Utes and didn’t return.  After the game, Mike Riley acknowledged that the wide receiver will be “out for a while, maybe the season.”

Additionally, running back Storm Woods sustained an injury to his right knee in the first half.  He didn’t return to the game, either.

The OSU head coach was unable to offer any details on Johnson’s injury or potential missed playing time in his postgame press conference.

Johnson is currently second on the team in rushing with 388 yards and three touchdowns.  Mullaney, meanwhile, is second in receptions (18) and receiving yards (216).

On the Utes’ front, it was all about Devontae Booker.

The junior running back ran for 229 and three touchdowns in the win, with the latter score serving as the game-winning points in the second extra session.  The game proved to be yet another immensely productive uptick to Booker’s 2014 season.  In the first three games of the year, Booker ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns; the last three games, those numbers are 563 and five.

Booker’s play is a significant reason why the Utes are one of four Pac-12 South teams — USC, Arizona, Arizona State — with one conference loss apiece.  The Utes will face all three of those teams before the end of the regular season.

CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Playoff Darkhorses

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The term “BCS busters” should be collectively erased from everyone’s memories.

It’s now time to figure out which teams have a glimmer of hope to rise from obscurity and claim a spot in the first College Football Playoff.

The Florida State Seminoles, Alabama Crimson Tide and Oregon Ducks are overwhelming favorites to participate in the inaugural playoff structure. But college football never quite works out like everyone expects.

Each team in the country is striving to be among the best. Only four will achieve this goal. Some have better odds than others. We here at CFT like to root for the underdog. As such, we’ll attempt to identify a team from each of the Power Five conference and one from the rest of the leagues that have an outside shot of playing with the big boys this season.

We advise not to bet on any of these teams, but they each have something that gives them a chance, albeit a slight one, to be a part of college football’s elite…

ACC: Virginia Tech Hokies
Any team that comes out of the ACC that isn’t the Florida State Seminoles should be considered a playoff darkhorse. The reasons the Hokies are primed to improve greatly from their 8-5 record last season are they are particularly talented and experienced along the offensive line and secondary. The enter left side of the Hokies’ offensive line, including center, is comprised of seniors. And right tackle Jonathan McLaughlin was named  second-team freshman All-American by College Football News. The Hokies’ ability to win in the trenches will improve the team’s running game from last year, particularly with sophomore running back Trey Edmunds ready to become the team’s workhorse. Plus, solid play from the offensive line will help Michael Brewer‘s transition after he transferred from Texas Tech. On the defensive side of the ball, the Hokies may have lost Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum to the NFL, but both of last year’s starting cornerbacks struggled with injuries. Sophomores Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller proved more than capable of stepping in and becoming play makers. Everyone will quickly learn whether or not the Hokies are a legitimate contender when they face a Braxton Miller-less Ohio State Buckeyes squad during the second week of the season. If Virginia Tech can go into the Horshoe and claim a major victory against the Buckeyes, the rest of the schedule is manageable, especially since it won’t face the Seminoles in regular season play.

Big 12 Conference: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Kliff Kingbury
‘s first season as Texas Tech’s head coach developed into a perfect example of style over substance. The excitement of a 7-0 start faded into five straight losses to end the regular season. Despite being as highly ranked as 10th overall, the Red Raiders couldn’t match up physically against the likes of the Oklahoma Sooners, Baylor Bears and Texas Longhorns. As Kingsbury continues to build the program in Year 2, the Red Raiders should be far more consistent. It starts at the quarterback position in the team’s Air Raid offense. Davis Webb started six of the team’s final eight games, and he was awarded the starting job during spring practice. Kingsbury played three different quarterbacks last and never found any consistency. Webb’s growth as a player during his sophomore season will only help the offense become more successful. Each of the linemen in front of Webb is experienced, and the receivers are expected to produce. The defense will continue to be a concern, but Texas Tech will enter each game under the assumption they can outscore any opponent. If the Red Raiders can navigate the Big 12 Conference, they’re toughest non-conference opponent is the Arkansas Razorbacks, who finished 3-9 last season. The opportunity is there for Texas Tech to take the next step as a program and potentially enter the national conversation.

Big Ten Conference: Iowa Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes will enjoy and possibly benefit greatly from playing in the Big Ten Conference’s new western division. Overall, the Big Ten Conference is wide open after the Ohio State Buckeyes lost Miller for the season. But that won’t matter for Iowa since they’re not scheduled to play the Buckeyes this season. Iowa not only avoids Ohio State, it won’t play the Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans or Penn State Nittany Lions. The Hawkeyes cross-divisional opponents this season are the Indiana Hoosiers and Maryland Terrapins. And the team’s toughest non-conference opponent is the Pittsburgh Panthers. If the Hawkeyes don’t trip up during a game they’re expected to win — like we’ve seen previously in Kirk Ferentz‘s tenure — Iowa could cruise into the final two games against the Wisconsin Badgers and Nebraska Cornhuskers with an undefeated record. The Hawkeyes are then capable and possess enough talent on both sides of the ball to beat the primary opposition in their division. The Hawkeyes will do what they always do; they’ll run the football behind arguably the best offensive linemen in college football, Brandon Scherff, and they’ll play fundamentally sound football on defense. Their style of play leaves very little margin for error, but the season sets up perfectly for the Hawkeyes to have a little more wiggle room than they usually do.

Pac-12 Conference: Oregon State Beavers
Good quarterback play will grant a team the benefit of the doubt. Sean Mannion may not be an interesting as Florida State’s Jameis Winston or as dynamic as Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Mannion doesn’t even draw as much attention as UCLA’s Brett Hundley. Yet, Mannion is the country’s leading returning passer. Mannion threw for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns as a junior. The quarterback also has pieces around him. Last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner, Brandin Cooks, is now in the NFL, but the team still has a massive target at tight end in Connor Hamlett and its top two rushers, Terron Ward and Storm Woods, return. Another overlooked aspect of the Beavers is how experienced they are on defense. Nine of the team’s defensive starters are seniors. The final two starters are juniors. Some of those upperclassmen will be starting for the first time, but the ability to be in the system over a period of time learning the scheme gives them an advantage. The Beavers even benefit slightly from their schedule. The team’s non-conference schedule should be a cakewalk. Oregon State hosts the Oregon Ducks in this year’s “Civil War.” Trips to USC and Stanford are the biggest obstacles in front of the Beavers in their attempt to go to their first major bowl game since they defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Fiesta Bowl 13 years ago.

SEC: Ole Miss Rebels
The Florida Gators are a popular choice to be the surprise team emerging out of the SEC. However, the Rebels should be able to reap the benefits from head coach Hugh Freeze‘s ability to stockpile talent during the upcoming season. The Rebels will have to survive the SEC West, of course, which is no easy feat. The Rebels finished 2-4 in the division last season, and the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers remain the teams to beat. Ole Miss, however, is littered with top talents primed to make a leap as a group. Former No. 1 overall recruit Robert Ndemkiche enters his second season in the program. He’s surrounded by senior edge rushers C.J. Johnson and Carlos Thompson and just nose tackle Isaac Gross. Sophomore Tony Conner quickly established himself as an intimidating presence in the secondary during his freshman campaign. On offense, sophomore Laremy Tunsil is one of the most physically talented left tackles in the SEC. Laquon Treadwell was an elite wide receiver recruit and made an instant impact as a true freshman. And senior quarterback Bo Wallace will lead the way. As the talent on this team continues to mature, the gap between the Rebels and the rest of the SEC West is quickly closing. If that same talent takes a major leap in their play this year, the Rebels could go from pretender to legitimate contender.

Best of the rest: Marshall Thundering Herd
One thing established during the BCS era was an undefeated team from the American Athletic Conference, Mountain West Conference, Conference USA or MAC can work themselves into the national conversation. This year’s most likely candidate is Marshall. There are two reasons why the Thundering Herd can crash this year’s party. First, the team’s schedule is among the easiest in college football. The team should cruise to a 13-0 finish. Second, people love to see explosive offenses and elite quarterback play. Marshall head coach Doc Holliday has quietly built one of the most explosive offenses in college football.  The Thurndering Herd operates at a breakneck pace. Last season the team’s offense finished 12th in the country with an average of 500.4 yards per contest. And quarterback Rakeem Cato is absolutely electric. Over the past two seasons, Cato has thrown for 8,117 yards, 76 touchdowns. The combination of an undefeated record, explosive offense and a talented quarterback may be enough to insert Marshall into one of the playoff slots (even though it’s still highly unlikely).

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)