The last time Oregon State football was ranked in the Top 25 AP Poll?
3,322 long days ago (and counting). That puts the Beavers in the same company as Rutgers and Vanderbilt. Schools which are frequently referenced for being basement dwellers in their respective conferences. Just take a Gander at the Longest P5 top 25 droughts below, courtesy of Matt Brown and The Athletic.
Now some will argue that with the Advent of the college football Playoffs and the committee rankings that the AP poll is essentially meaningless. Big picture? Sure I will concede that being ranked (or not) in the AP Poll has no effect on this season for Oregon State. It won’t affect their standing in the Pac-12, it won’t affect their bowl-eligibility or anything of that nature. But it absolutely has an effect on the national perception of the program.
In the latest AP Poll Miami is #25 while Oregon State was among the other teams receiving votes. Good for #32 if the rankings went that far. Realistically the gap between #25 and #32 or any of the other teams receiving votes is negligible especially this early in the season. But it’s huge nationally to have those little numbers associated with your football team. Every time Miami is mentioned this week on ESPN, social media or any other type of media that #25 ranking will follow them. While the Beavs are grouped in with the other 100+ unranked teams.
Who knows maybe Oregon State isn’t relegated to the Pac-12 Network these next two weekends despite playing the two highest ranked Pac-12 schools; if they themselves also appeared in the Top 25. Maybe ESPN’s College GameDay considers coming to Corvallis this weekend instead of going to yet another SEC campus. And ultimately maybe breaking that Top 25 drought opens a few more doors for Jonathan Smith and company on the recruiting trail.
When it comes to the AP Poll, Oregon State might always be at a bit of a disadvantage. Frequently playing night games on the West Coast while a majority of the Voters are already asleep makes it difficult to make an impression. John Canzano highlighted the Uphill battle Oregon State faces in a recent column saying “The Geographic breakdown on that front is an interesting study. Oregon State received votes in Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nevada. It registered a ballot cast from Nebraska, one from Louisiana, and another from Kansas. But outside of (Matt) Brown and (Brett) McMurphy, OSU only made two other ballots cast from the Eastern Time Zone.” Take a look at all the ballots this week for yourself. It’s tough to argue against there being an East Coast bias.
The good news is that Oregon State controls their own destiny. Beat USC and they’ll easily be a top 20 team. Even if they just go .500 against USC/Utah they’ll still be ranked and have a big win that’ll impress the CFP committee. The Beavers have a Tougher schedule than most as they miss Arizona & UCLA (both winnable matchups). For reference USC will miss Oregon & Washington. But the Tougher schedule just gives the Beavs more chances to prove themselves.
This offseason the Pac-12 changed their Championship game criteria, essentially eliminating the divisions. Commissioner George Kilavkoff did not hide the purpose saying “Our goal is to place our two best teams in our Pac-12 Football Championship Game, which we believe will provide our conference with the best opportunity to optimize CFP invitations and ultimately win national championships.”
It’s too early to be talking about the Pac-12 Championship Game, but Oregon State has a huge opportunity against USC this weekend in Reser. The Trojans (aka the Pac-12 favorites / #7 team in the Nation / Media darlings) are less than a touchdown favorite. Besides a trip to Salt Lake City to play Utah, this should be USC’s toughest regular season game. Keep overlooking Oregon State football at your own peril, but don’t be surprised if and when the Beavers make a big time statement. Those paying attention certainly won’t be.