After San Jose State kicked off this college football season with a week zero clash against USC, they will face another ranked Pac-12 foe, although this time, the Spartans will be hosting. The Oregon State Beavers are coming to town, looking to build on a surprising 10-3 campaign a year ago. Let’s take a look at the odds for this West Coast clash, where my prediction is for a total of over 55 points and Oregon State to cover a spread of -16.5.
Oregon State Vs. San Jose State Prediction & Pick
One of the most impressive things about Oregon State’s success last season is that they did it with essentially no quality of play from the quarterback position. Ben Gulbranson and Chance Nolan, the main contributors, combined for under 2,400 yards and a 16:13 touchdown to interception ratio. The Beavers hope to straighten things out with Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei, but given his performance last year, it’s no guarantee that he’ll ever live up to his top-prospect billing.
Regardless of their quarterback situation, the Beavs scored 32.2 points per game, but their greatest strength was the defense; their average of 20 points allowed was good for 16th in FBS, pretty impressive when playing in the Pac. Andrew Chatfield was a major anchor for the defense as a big linebacker, and will be reprising that role this season. One issue is that three of the four top-graded players per PFF will be gone from a strong secondary, with safety Kitan Oladapo the lone returner.
A lot of advanced analytics hated San Jose State’s performance against USC, but they were able to pull off a backdoor cover of the 30.5 point spread. Their defense offered absolutely no resistance to reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams, and the Spartans only stuck around by hanging 28 points on USC’s still-horrible defense. They shouldn’t rack up quite as many against the Beavers, but with a lot of pieces to replace in what was a strong secondary, veteran QB Chevan Cordeiro should be able to build on a nice opening day and create a bit of offense for his team.
The hype has gotten a little out of control with this Oregon State team and DJ, who I don’t view as an elite QB, but he should be an upgrade over what they had last season. I expect their playcalling mix to shift from an average of about 40 rushes and 25 passes per game to shift more towards an air game, and San Jose State is a perfect opponent for testing that approach. The pace should be up in this game, and there’s defensive questions on both sides, so I’m a big fan of the over.
As far as the spread, Oregon State’s defense should do more than USC’s did, and it’s also a much smaller number to cover. I’m backing the Beavers to cover 16.5 points, which is a pretty solid football number if they tack on a field goal at any point, although I really don’t believe it will come to that.
Oregon State Vs. San Jose State Odds
Oregon State is favored by 16.5 points, while the over is set at 55. Picking either side of the spread or total is a proposition of -110 odds, an even split.
Oregon State Vs. San Jose State Key Matchups
Oregon State O-Line vs. San Jose State Pass Rush
DJ will be behind an o-line returning key pieces such as center Jake Levengood and tackle duo Taliese Fuaga and Joshua Gray. Fuaga and Levengood were very strong in pass protection last season, while Gray will need to do more to protect Uiagalelei as his left tackle, after last year was a rough one for him. The performance of this group will be paramount to Uiagalelei’s success, as his yards per attempt when pressured dropped to 4.5 last year, and his PFF passing grade in those situations was 41.
They’ll be going up against a San Jose State pass rush that was very solid last year, 50th in PFF’s rankings, but has lost a lot over the offseason. Mountain West DPOY defensive ends Cade Hall and Viliami Vehoko are gone, as is three-time all-conference linebacker Kyle Harmon. The losses are showing; in their opener, the Spartans put up the worst PFF pass rush grade of any team in this young season, as most players earned a pass rush win rate of less than 10%, and USC quarterbacks were only sacked twice. To stay in the game this week, they’ll have to be a lot better.
San Jose State Receivers vs. Oregon State Secondary
We know Cordeiro will put in a good shift- he followed up a solid 2022 season with a nice opening day performance without his top two targets from last year. Thousand-yard receiver Elijah Cooks is currently a Jacksonville Jaguar, leaving the Spartans without their top target from last year. Second option Justin Lockhart missed last week as well, and his status for the Oregon State game is unclear as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the receivers who will be on the field, and need to have a great day to help Cordeiro compete in this one. Nick Nash had a banner day with 6 catches, 89 yards and 3 touchdowns, all matching or eclipsing his totals from a year ago, while Charles Ross had some nice long-strike plays en route to 62 yards.
We’ve talked about some of the losses Oregon State is dealing with in the secondary, but Oladapo is a nice holdover from last year’s 21st-ranked secondary by PFF, after he earned a 72.8 coverage grade a year ago. Akili Arnold will look to build on a nice season as Oladapo’s safety partner, while corner duo Trice Ivy Jr. and Jaden Robinson will be pretty green.