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Monday, January 31, 2011
Best-worst case redo: Oregon State

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Every preseason we take a look at potential best-case and worst-case scenarios for every Pac-10 team. While these are often tongue-in-cheek, they nonetheless represent the top and bottom we see for each team.

So it might be worthwhile to revisit each.

Next up is Oregon State, which finished 5-7 and didn't play in a bowl game for the first time since 2005.

Best Case: 11-2 with a Rose Bowl win over Iowa and a final No. 4 ranking.

What was right: Gulp. Not much. Correctly predicted a loss to TCU and wins over Louisville, Arizona State, Arizona and California. But, really, nothing here even remotely feels like what happened to the Beavers this season.

What was wrong: Almost everything, starting with the victory over Boise State. This scenario had the Beavers at 8-1 and ranked No. 6 before losing to unbeaten, third-ranked USC. The Beavers' only win over their final five games was against the Trojans, who had lost three times before going down in Corvallis. Receiver James Rodgers suffered a season-ending knee injury at Arizona in Game 5, and running back Jacquizz Rodgers never became a Heisman Trophy candidate. Stanford blasted Oregon State 38-0, and there wasn't much drama in the Civil War, with Oregon winning 37-20 and earning a berth in the BCS national title game.

Worst case: 5-7, no bowl game

What was right: A lot, starting with the record. The predicted 1-2 start was correct. The win over Arizona State and loss to Washington were correct. The inconsistency of quarterback Ryan Katz was mostly right, as was the ganging up on Jacquizz Rodgers by opposing defenses. The win over Cal was correct. The 5-5 record after 10 games was correct, as were the decisive losses to Stanford and Oregon to end the season at 5-7. Ducks running back LaMichael James was a Heisman Trophy finalist, though not the winner. Oregon won the Pac-10. Rodgers did opt to enter the NFL draft.

What was wrong: Some details. The Beavers won at Arizona but were upset by UCLA and Washington State. They also upset USC, a 36-7 blowout. Oregon won the Pac-10 but lost in the national championship game instead of winning the Rose Bowl. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf and defensive coordinator Mark Banker remain on staff. James Rodgers is coming back for a sixth year after being granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA for his knee injury.

Conclusion: The worst case was mostly spot on; the best case was not. While James Rodgers' knee injury -- we're not going to predict injuries in this annual exercise -- was a huge blow to the Beavers, the rugged nonconference schedule and struggles of both lines ultimately upended a season that seemed promising in August, when Oregon State was picked in the conference's top three by just about everyone.