Must-win and trap games of 2017: Oregon State Beavers

When is it too early to start dissecting the 2017 football schedule? Whenever it was, it is behind us …

We’re taking a look at some of the most important games each Pac-12 team has waiting for it in the fall: the must-wins and the trap games. Next up: Oregon State.

Must-win game: Nov. 24 at Oregon.

The Beavers snapped the Ducks’ eight-game win streak with their hard-nosed victory in The Civil War last season in Corvallis. Now, they’ll head to Eugene to try and build a win streak of their own against a team that has been reinvigorated by a coaching change. The Beavers will want to prove in 2017 that they’re continuing to take steps forward in the conference by increasing their win total from 2016, but even more important than defending 2016 wins over Cal (Nov. 4) and Arizona (Nov. 11) would be a potential second straight over Oregon. Even if the rest of the conference slate doesn’t go to plan, if Oregon State can continue momentum in the rivalry that’ll be a feather in Gary Andersen’s cap for both the season and the battles on the recruiting trail.

Trap game: Sept. 23 at Colorado State.

The Beavers will play only two of their three nonconference games before they enter Pac-12 play by traveling to Pullman to face off against Washington State in week 3. In week 5 Oregon State will face reigning Pac-12 champion Washington before seeing USC and Colorado, the top two teams out of the South last year. And tucked right in the middle of all of those important conference games is a nonconference road game in Fort Collins against Colorado State. As the Beavers look to build their Pac-12 Conference resume, there is potential to overlook an oddly placed nonconference game. Those first four games of the Pac-12 slate will be a good indicator of how much the Beavers grew in the offseason and a win over any of those opponents -- the top four from the Pac-12 a season ago -- will be dangling right in front of the Beavers. So, stepping back in the middle of all of that to take care of a Group of 5 nonconference opponent could provide some challenges.