Pac-10 contender Oregon State will test Nittany Lions' defense
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Now that the cakewalk against Coastal Carolina is in the rearview mirror, Penn State must prepare for a much tougher non-conference test.
Oregon State, which lost 36-28 to Stanford in its season-opener four days ago, is headed to Beaver Stadium Saturday.
The Beavers replaced Arkansas State on the schedule in December and are the only Pac-10 Conference team Penn State has never faced.
"To play a team like Oregon State, a Pac-10 contender, is really going to be a true test of where we're at," Penn State center A.Q. Shipley said after Saturday's 66-10 thumping of Coastal Carolina. "We're all excited for it. We've been looking forward to it for a while."
Oregon State has been the second-winningest program in the Pac-10 the past two years. The Beavers' 19-8 overall record was second only to Southern California's 22-4 mark. They are the only team from a BCS conference to open the season with consecutive road games.
The Nittany Lions have an all-time record of 22-11 vs. Pac-10 teams.
"Oregon State's going to come in here looking to make a statement, especially after a tough loss to Stanford," Shipley said. "We're going to have to get ready to go."
Like the Lions, the Beavers easily could be 1-0.
But Darrell Catchings' fumble near the goal line in the closing seconds Thursday spoiled Oregon State's comeback bid. It was one of two critical fumbles and two interceptions by the Beavers in the second half. The first, late in the third quarter, led to a safety and gave Stanford the lead for good.
"Oregon State just blew it," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said.
Beavers quarterback Lyle Moevao completed 34 of 54 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns, but was done in by turnovers in the second half.
His first interception ended a drive deep in Stanford territory and the second was returned 34 yards for a touchdown that staked the Cardinal to a 16-point lead.
"That kid's a good quarterback," Paterno said. "That kid got banged around and had a couple interceptions. ... I thought the wideouts were big kids and really good."
Oregon State wide receiver Sammie Stroughter, who missed most of last season with a kidney injury, had 12 catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns, while Shane Morales added 13 catches for 151 yards and a score.
Penn State, despite breaking in a new quarterback (Daryll Clark) and new tailback (Evan Royster), outgained Coastal Carolina, 594-250, including 334-52 on the ground.
Clark, known for his scrambling ability, completed 11 of 14 passes for 146 yards in his first career start. He also threw his first career touchdown pass, but he didn't run the option or the ball.
"He did a great job of just being calm," wide receiver Deon Butler said. "He didn't throw it too hard. He didn't throw it over anyone's head. He wasn't really nervous or jittery or anything like that. He threw nice, smooth, calm and easy passes. He spread it out real good."
Clark also earned another opportunity to play against Oregon State.
"We'll start Clark and if it looks like we can get [backup Pat] Devlin in, we'll get him in," Paterno said. "I've said that 50 times. I'm not going to change my mind every three minutes."
Royster had 64 yards rushing and a career high three touchdowns. He was the first Penn State running back to accomplish that feat since Tony Hunt against Temple in 2006.
Derrick Williams returned a kickoff 89 yards for another touchdown and wide receiver Jordan Norwood had four receptions for 74 yards and a score.
The Lions didn't need to open up their playbook to submarine Coastal Carolina. They know they will have to show a lot more against Oregon State.
"Every game is so different," Paterno said. "Sometimes, you get mismatches in certain places. There are certain plays that you want to run and there are certain kids that run them better than other kids. [This] week, you may be in a whole different situation. ... That opens up the whole playbook."
First Published September 1, 2008 12:00 am