Sean Canfield doesn't want to remember when the Oregon State football team played Cincinnati two years ago, but he can't get it out of his mind.
He threw three interceptions and didn't play the whole game due to his ineffectiveness as the Beavers lost by 31 points on the road.
Canfield is a different player now as a senior, and the Beavers are too as a team. They expect to perform better when the 17th-ranked Bearcats come to town for a marquee nonconference game.
"That was a tough plane ride coming home," Canfield said. "We stayed there that night (instead of going home immediately), and that made it worse. I think the team is excited to get some redemption."
He expects to hold up his end this time. He felt he let down the defense by giving the Bearcats short fields off turnovers.
Canfield has played the best football of his career the first two games of this season. He leads the nation in pass completions at 78.6 percent.
He has completed 33 of 42 for 356 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has made pressure throws and smart decisions.
"The game has slowed down for me compared to my first year (as a starter), or even last year," Canfield said. "It's all the experience I've had, and it pays dividends in the end. I see myself on film and I look a lot quicker."
A big difference in his game is throwing to Jacquizz Rodgers out of the backfield. The sophomore running back has a team-leading 14 receptions for 97 yards.
Canfield plays it safe and picks his shots to go deep. He doesn't force a play anymore.
"It's a matter of checking the ball down, even if you have a guy down field, you are never wrong checking the ball down to a running back, especially with a guy like Quizz," Canfield said. "He can do so much after the catch."
Canfield also showed he can even take a hit. He was sacked three times and hit several times last Saturday against UNLV, but didn't fumble.
He felt a cornerback coming on a blitz full speed behind him at UNLV, and protected the ball at the last second. It was an important play because a turnover could have turned the game.
"Sean made a lot of plays, took hits, took care of the football and is making good decisions," coach Mike Riley said. "A lot of the percentage passing is what good quarterbacks do, like a Tom Brady, is check the ball down."
Canfield's efficient play by is what gives the Beavers confidence for this Saturday. He was overwhelmed in the first meeting with the Bearcats, but hasn't had that kind of problem since that season.
Cincinnati has a potent offense, and the Beavers must match scores to stay in the game. They must also burn time off the clock to help the defense contain the Bearcats.
A controlled passing game will be crucial. And Canfield has turned into the guy who can lead the offense in a game of this magnitude.
"It's all about growth," offensive guard Gregg Peat said. "We've all developed, mentally and physically. You just got to get better. Sean is a much better player now than he was then. He shows it as a leader. It comes with age and respect, and he's got it."