Wherein I profile some of Oregon State's key players leading up to Saturday's regular season finale.
What's Ryan Katz's deal?
After Katz was underwhelming in consecutive losses to Pac-10 bottom feeders UCLA and Washington State, Oregon State's coaches said they were concerned about their first-year starting quarterback's confidence. It's just fine, thanks. Katz, the last FBS starting quarterback to throw an interception, was 17-for-24 for 154 yards and two touchdowns in last week's surprising 36-7 rout of USC. The sophomore has thrown 15 touchdowns against five interceptions, and his 136.67 passer rating ranks fifth in the Pac-10. At least one Beavers fan suggests that Katz "has some Brett Favre in him" and that the only reason his interception total isn't higher is because he puts so much zip on the ball. Michael Thomas and Richard Sherman might want to pump up the velocity on the Jugs machine this week.
What's Jacquizz Rodgers' deal?
He may no longer be a Heisman trophy candidate, but Rodgers is still plenty capable of dominating a game as he did in rushing for 189 yards and four touchdowns in last year's win against Stanford. The junior, who is averaging 102 yards rushing per game, has been forced to carry more of the offensive load since his brother, James, went down with a season-ending injury against Arizona. After being held in check by UCLA and Washington State--his only two TD-less games of the season--Quizz rushed for 128 yards and a score, and caught seven passes for 43 yards against the Trojans. Rodgers can only hope he finds more success against the Cardinal and in next week's Civil War against Oregon than he did in early-season losses to a couple of other BCS behemoths. Rodgers managed a combined 121 yards against TCU and Boise State.
What's Markus Wheaton's deal?
The sophomore receiver doesn't have gaudy numbers, but his production has increased since James Rodgers went down. Wheaton, who has topped 100 receiving yards only once, is as much of a threat to run the ball as he is to catch it. The cousin of former Oregon standout Kenny Wheaton has 14 carries in Oregon State's last four games, most of them on fly sweeps, and is averaging 8.3 yards per carry. Despite Wheaton's contributions, the Beavers rank ninth in the Pac-10 in rushing offense.
What's Stephen Paea's deal?
The senior defensive end and weight room wonder forced a fumble and had 2.5 tackles for loss against the Trojans, drawing praise from USC head coach Lane Kiffin. "It was like Warren Sapp in his heyday," Kiffin said of Paea's big day. "He completely dominated us that entire game." Oregon State ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in total defense, but first in sacks per game. Paea is tied for the team lead with five.