<
>

Toughest three-game stretches: Oregon State Beavers

We're looking at the toughest three-game stretches for each Pac-12 team. Today, we'll keep things going with Oregon State.

Stretch:

Sept. 25 vs. Stanford

Oct. 10 at Arizona

Oct. 17 at Washington State

Why it's tough: It's usually a safe assumption to expect somewhat of a feeling-out period between a first-year coach and his roster and it's hard to say just how much games against Weber State, Michigan and San Jose State will do for that process at Oregon State. Even if Gary Andersen -- and his players -- are comfortable three games in, there is still a significant talent gap between the Beavers and Stanford and Arizona, a pair of teams that begin the season in the conference championship conversation.

Over the past five years, Oregon State has lost all five of its games against Stanford and been outscored by an average of 19.8 points per game. It hasn't played Arizona, the defending Pac-12 South champ, since 2012, a 38-25 win.

Washington State isn't likely to inspire fear relative to the rest of the conference, but its placement on the schedule makes it possibly the most pivotable game of the year. Let's say Oregon State is 2-3 at this point (wins against Weber State and San Jose State). Without a win against WSU, a bowl game is almost certainly out of the question. If the Beavers beat Wazzu, then things get interesting. Colorado presents another good opportunity for a win the following week and the optimism that re-energized the fan base upon Andersen's arrival would be sustained.

Odds for success: Based on who is coming back, the Beavers will be punching out of their weight class against Stanford and Arizona. If they win either of those games, it would be a pretty significant upset. Don't see it happening for the Beavs in either. And based on what WSU QB Luke Falk did against Oregon State last year in his first career start (44-for-61, 471 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT) the Cougars seem like the preseason pick in that one, although it's clearly a game that could go either way.