Fresh start: Finally, the Oregon State football team can put the memory of a 2-10 season with zero Pac-12 wins in the rearview mirror. The Beavers need to start strong and prove to Minnesota that they will not be pushovers in this game or any game this season.
Garretson factor: Unlike 2015, when the Beavers opened the season without a quarterback on the roster who had taken a college snap, co-captain Darell Garretson provides veteran leadership and is a major upgrade as a passer. There will be no deer-in-the-headlights moment for Garretson, who started 11 games during his two seasons at Utah State and engineered an upset at No. 18 BYU in 2014.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 1
Oregon State vs. Minnesota
At TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Time: 6 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network
Battle in the trenches: It’s no secret that controlling the line of scrimmage goes a long way in determining the winner in college football games. OSU center Yanni Demogerontas and left tackle Blake Brandell will be making their college debuts. In the 3-4 base defense, only end Baker Pritchard started at least six games last season. Will the Beavers hold their own in the trenches?
Make special teams special: Wide receiver Victor Bolden returned a punt and kickoff for a touchdown last season. A big play on special teams from Bolden could turn the tide in OSU’s favor.
Bend and don’t break: The Beavers allowed 37.0 points per game last season and struggled to tackle in space. Will they be improved under first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Clune? Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner passed for 2,701 yards and 14 TDS last season and he’s seen every type of defense in his college career.
Prediction: Minnesota 34, OSU 24
Contact Gary Horowitz at ghorowitz@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6726 or Twitter.com/ghorowitz. The Statesman Journal is a KGW News partner.