Back-to-back wins over top-20 teams to start the season has caught the attention of voters.
The Oregon State football team jumped into to the Associated Press rankings at No. 18 on Sunday in the wake of the upset over then-No. 19 UCLA, 27-20, on Saturday in the Rose Bowl.
The last time OSU was ranked dates back to Oct. 16, 2010. The Beavers were No. 24 before losing to Washington in double overtime, which began a skid of two straight losing seasons.
“I try not to get caught up in that,” quarterback Sean Mannion said. “We had two great wins over top-20 teams, and we’ll let that take care of itself.”
The Beavers have little time to celebrate as they must prepare for a road game at Arizona. The Wildcats were a top-25 team before Saturday’s 49-0 loss at Oregon.
And it won’t help that Mannion came out of the UCLA game with a sore shoulder from a second-quarter hit. He may not practice today, coach Mike Riley said, but it’s not considered serious at this point.
“I don’t think about it,” receiver Markus Wheaton said of being ranked. “I’m thinking about the next game. But it’s always nice to see those numbers.”
The Beavers are also the hot team around the nation. They have been flooded with national media requests. Sports information director Steve Fenk said there were 10 on Sunday and he expects more today.
Coach Mike Riley will be on College Football Live today and on the Jim Rome Show on Wednesday.
There was plenty of media coverage of Riley treating to his team to In-N-Out Burger for the win on Saturday night. OSU pulled up four buses to one of the restaurants on the way to the airport and Riley put in an order of 160 burgers and fries on his personal card.
“I haven’t got the bill, yet, but it was an expensive night,” Riley said.
And he may do it again next week for another win.
“Whatever it takes; whatever the ingredients is,” Riley said. “I’ll do it every week if we have to.”
OSU is playing well on defense. The rush defense is ranked second nationally at 53.5 yards allowed a game.
OSU’s total defense ranks third in the Pac-12 at 325.5 yards per game with the scoring defense second at 13.5 points per game.
The Beavers also lead the nation in third-down conversion defense at 14 percent, one stat that particularly pleases Riley.
“It’s what we expect, but it’s not easy to achieve,” Riley said. “It’s a big, big factor. Because of that stat we had the ball 10 minutes longer than UCLA. And that was the case against Wisconsin, too.”
Even though the offense had a strong game against UCLA, it still needs to improve. The rushing offense is 110th in the nation at 100 yards a game and the scoring offense is 111th at 18.5 points a game.
Riley noticed various offensive line blocking mistakes that if corrected, could open up the running game.
The Beavers will need those adjustments to keep another potent offense off the field on Saturday.
“It’s a good start,” Mannion said. “We know we want to do more than this. We have to continue to work hard. We have another tough game against Arizona next week.”
In the wake of the UCLA win, the Beavers also received another verbal commitment, according to Rivals.com.
Defensive back Justin Strong from Fontana, Calif., was at the game and the Beavers’ strong defensive showing helped him make up his mind. He’s a 5-foot-11, 189-pound unranked athlete who also had offers Nevada, San Diego State and Wyoming.
Strong is the brother of former OSU defensive end standout Victor Butler, now with the Dallas Cowboys.