Midseason report: Oregon State

Oregon State Beavers

Record: 3-2 (2-0 Pac-10)

It looked like Oregon State might have bit off more than it could chew when it started 1-2 with losses to a pair of top-five teams, TCU and Boise State, sandwiched around a not terribly impressive win over Louisville.

It was another slow start during the nonconference schedule, one that hurt the perception of the program and the Pac-10 as a whole.

But coach Mike Riley was hoping for a payoff when the conference schedule began, and he appears to have gotten it. The Beavers first beat Arizona State and then went down to Tucson and took care of No. 9 Arizona, a team that had won its tough nonconference test over Iowa.

They now sit atop the Pac-10. The biggest good news: The maturation of quarterback Ryan Katz, a talented sophomore who sliced apart a good Wildcats defense. The biggest bad news? The loss of receiver James Rodgers for the season due to a knee injury.

The Beavers defense has mostly struggled. That suggests Katz and the offense are going to have to pile up points. Can they do that without Rodgers? We shall see.

Offensive MVP: No running back in the nation has faced better competition than Jacquizz Rodgers, but he still is averaging 96 yards per game and has scored seven touchdowns. He also has caught 11 passes for 79 yards with a TD.

Defensive MVP: Defensive tackle Stephen Paea hasn't put up big numbers. He only has 16 tackles, though three of those are sacks. But he is the first concern for every opposing offensive coordinator, and every one of them so far has decided a double-team is necessary. That attention makes Paea valuable. He is the centerpiece of the Beavers defense and a likely high NFL draft pick.