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College

Paterno sees Oregon State as measuring stick

| Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008

Joe Paterno stayed up well past his bedtime last week, watching Oregon State lose to Stanford in a west-coast game that ran into the early morning hours.

"Oregon State blew it, any way you twist it," Paterno said Tuesday.

The Beavers, who provide Penn State's opposition at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Beaver Stadium, outgained Stanford, 490-301, had two wide receivers -- Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales -- with double figures each in receptions and more than 150 yards apiece. But Stanford won the game, 36-28, a contest sealed, fittingly, when Oregon State's Darrell Catchings tried to stretch the football over the goal line in the final minute, and fumbled it through the end zone, giving Stanford the ball on a touchback.

Oregon State committed 12 penalties, had multiple turnovers, had a punt blocked, and still had a shot at a touchdown and two-point try for a late tie.

"We did all those things that lose games for you and still had an opportunity to win, which was almost astounding to me," Beavers coach Mike Riley said yesterday.

The Oregon State loss, coupled with Penn State's 66-10 opening win vs. Coastal Carolina, has taken some of the luster off this first meeting of the schools' football programs. But the word seems to have had difficulty filtering through at Penn State, where the arrival of the Pac-10 team is being heralded as a major measuring stick for the Lions.

"We'll know a lot more about our football team after this game," Paterno said.

It was message he seemed to have communicated to his players.

"It's definitely going to be more fun to play against a tougher opponent to really see where we're at," sophomore guard Stefen Wisniewski said.

The Beavers were good last season, going 9-4, and they return 12 starters from that team. And their conference is the Pac-10, but this isn't exactly USC.

Stanford running back Toby Gerhart tore up the Beavers' defense for 147 rushing yards and two scores last week. Oregon State left its running game at home, netting just 86 yards and forcing quarterback Lyle Moevao to throw 54 times, completing 34 for 404 yards, three TDs and two interceptions.

Slow starters
Oregon State's early and final records in recent seasons:
Year Early record Final record
2007 2-3 9-4
2006 2-3 10-4
2005 2-2 5-6
2004 1-4 7-5

"The one thing we didn't do is we didn't have the numbers running the ball that we need to have," Riley said. "The missing link in there is obviously running the football like we have in the past."

Oregon State has other hurdles to overcome this week. It will be on the road for the second consecutive game, this time flying cross country to play the Lions.

Paterno at first downplayed the impact of that. But, later, when asked whether the Pac-10 and Big Ten teams should play more often, perhaps borrowing from the ACC-Big Ten challenge format for basketball, Paterno all of sudden found travel to be a problem.

"I'm not so sure I'd want to take a team across the country every year," he said. "Or ... if I was on the coast, whether I'd want to take a team east every other year."

Oregon State also is battling a multi-year trend of struggling early in seasons, including a 2-3 start last year.

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh alluded to that yesterday.

"We played Oregon State at a good time for us," he said, "They don't play as well (early) for some reason."

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