Oct 15, 2011; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Brandin Cooks (13) celebrates a touchdown with offensive guard Burke Ellis (74) against Brigham Young Cougars during the second half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Z. Rider-USA TODAY Sports.

Pac-12 Football Preview: North No. 4 Oregon State Beavers

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Oct 27, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion (4) passes against the Washington Huskies during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 Season Preview Series

North:

5. California

6. Washington State

South:

1. Arizona State

2. USC

3. UCLA

4. Arizona

5. Utah

6. Colorado

2012 record: 9-3 (6-3 Pac-12)

Key returnees: WR Brandin Cooks, DE Scott Crichton, LB Michael Doctor, CB Rashaad Reynolds

Key departures: CB Jordan Poyer, LB Feti Unga DB Anthony Watkins, WR Markus Wheaton

Key additions: CB Dashon Hunt (Westlake HS/Westlake Village, Calif.), CB Steven Nelson (College of Sequoias/Warner Robbins, GA), WR Hunter Jarmon (Midway HS/Waco, TX)

2012 season recap:
The Beavers came out of nowhere and took the country by storm in 2012. After going 3-9 the year before, the Beavers were picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North in the preseason media poll. They blew those expectations out of the water, however, and challenged Oregon and Stanford for the Pac-12 crown. Despite getting inconsistent play at quarterback from both Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz, Mike Riley led Oregon State back to relevancy.

When they beat Wisconsin to start the season, many thought it was a fluke. Instead, it turned out to be the starting point of something special. People around the country realized so seven weeks later when they saw the Beavers were still undefeated at 6-0 and in the top-10. The undefeated Beaver squad came into CenturyLink Field hoping to extend their win streak but would have no such luck. In an intense back-and-forth game, the Huskies prevailed, 20-17, on ESPN. Washington would be the only team other than Stanford or Oregon to knock off the Beavers until the Alamo Bowl.

2013 season preview:

Now, with success on their heels, Riley must find a quarterback he can rely on to continue said success. Both Vaz and Mannion were able to handle the offense and occasionally go above and beyond the call of duty, but those plays came few and far between. Much of the team is back from a year ago and they are looking for a Pac-12 championship. The road ahead is not easy, though. They’ll have to finish above two preseason top-10 teams and a Washington team that is returning just as much, if not more, talent as the Beavers.

It is very possible for the Beavers to get off to an even better start than last season, playing seven very winnable games before hosting Stanford on October 12. A pivotal game for Oregon State could come in the second-to-last week of the season against Washington. It will be the fourth game in a five game stretch that could (should) all be against top-25 conference foes. After getting an easy start, the Beavers will have to finish strong while facing the best the conference has to offer. No matter, the Beavers should be looking at a second straight bowl appearance.

2013 predicted finish: 8-4 (5-4 Pac-12), fourth in the Pac-12 North

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Tags: Football Oregon State Beavers Washington Huskies

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