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2021 Oregon State college football preview: Beavers seek a breakthrough

The Beavers finished 2-5 in 2020 but several of those losses were close. Can they flip the script this fall?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Oregon at Oregon State Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jonathan Smith has showed steady progress in his three seasons as the head coach of the Oregon State Beavers and while the pandemic-shortened 2020 season didn’t produce much in terms of wins, the signs were there that this program is trending up.

The Beavers ultimately finished the campaign with a 2-5 record but were competitive in nearly every game. Four of their five losses were determined by 10 points or less as their highly efficient offense kept pace with all of their Pac-12 foes. The cherry on top was a Thanksgiving weekend 41-38 upset of in-state rival and eventual conference champion Oregon, just the second time the Beavers had toppled the Ducks since 2008.

With plenty of returnees on both sides of the ball, the hope is that veteran Beaver ballclub can turn many of those close losses into wins in 2021.

2020 Season Review

  • 2-5 (conference only schedule), 4th in Pac-12 North
  • Oregon State hit the over in five of seven games last year.

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 109th
ESPN Returning Production: 87% overall (7th): 94% offense (4th), 79% defense (34th)
Returning Talent Index: Negative, 10th in Pac-12
Returning starters: 9/11 offense, 9/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Tristan Gebbia (Jr.), Sam Noyer (Sr.)

A quarterback battle is currently brewing in Corvallis between Tristan Gebbia and grad transfer Sam Noyer. Gebbia is the incumbant who started the first four games of OSU’s 2020 season before a hamstring injury sidelined him for the rest of the campaign. The junior from Calabasas, CA, completed 62 percent of his passes, throwing for 824 yards and four touchdowns in his four starts.

Noyer, a Beaverton, OR, native, returns to his home state after starting his career at Pac-12 rival Colorado. In six starts for the Buffaloes, he showed his dual-threat prowess by throwing for over 1,000 yards, rushing for an additional 208, and accounting for 11 touchdowns.

Offense (non-QB): WR Tre’Shaun Harrison (Sr.)

A former four-star prospect at Florida State, Harrison transferred to Oregon State last year and showed his skills in the final two games of the season. The Seattle native caught nine passes for 142 yards an a touchdown in those to games, teasing Beavers fans with potential for the 2021 season.

Defense: LB Avery Roberts (Jr.)

Oregon State lost school all-time sack/TFL leader Hamilcar Rashed Jr. but retain another hard hitter in the middle of the defense in Avery Roberts. He earned First Team All-Pac 12 honors last season by leading the conference with 69 tackles, including four straight games where he had 10 or more tackles.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 78th overall: 40th offense, 102nd defense, 64th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 60th overall: 22nd offense, 104th defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +50000
To win Pac-12: +4500
Win total: 4.5 (Over -113, Under -113)

2020 Against The Spread: 4-3
2020 Point Total: Over 5-2

2021 Oregon State Schedule

2021 Oregon State Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Saturday, Sep. 4 at Purdue 7:00pm/FS1 OSU +7/65
Saturday, Sep. 11 Hawaii 11:00pm/FS1 N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 Idaho 3:30pm/Pac-12Now N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 at USC TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 Washington TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 at Washington State TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 OPEN TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 Utah TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 at California TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 at Colorado TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 Stanford TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 20 Arizona State TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 27 at Oregon TBA N/A