The long torture of summer sports is almost over, but we still have a little ways to go. To get things ready, I went over every single game on the Pac-12 schedule in 2016 and predicted records for each team.
I'm going to countdown how I think the teams ultimately stack up in the final regular season standings with snapshots of each team.
Let's start with #12 Oregon State
Prediction: 2-10 (1-8 Pac-12) sixth in North
Wins: Idaho State, Arizona
Loses: at Minnesota, Boise State, at Colorado, Cal, Utah, at Washington, Washington State, at Stanford, at UCLA, Arizona, Oregon
I want to start by making this clear. I think the Beavers will make major strides in 2016, unfortunately due to a tough schedule, I just don't think it will show up much in the win column.
Non-conference: The Beavers did themselves no favors by scheduling a game at Minnesota and at home against Boise State. Neither of those opponents is 10-feet tall, but they will be underdogs in both games, and it would be very hard to predict them to beat either. They will get at least a gimme game against Idaho State.
In-conference: Here is what I know... the Beavers will win at least one Pac-12 game this year. Here is the problem. There isn't a single game on their schedule which jumps out as that game to me.
The game which seems like their best chance to win against Colorado on October 1st is on the road against a Buff team that is also trying to pick itself up off the canvas and who is more experienced, talented and has had longer to work in their coach's system.
The other three candidates that stand out to me are at home against Cal on October 8, Arizona at home on November 19 and Oregon at home on November 26. Cal is the most beatable team other than the Beavers in the North, Arizona is extremely vulnerable and has to come to Corvallis in later November and the Beavers get the Ducks at home, are extremely overdue to beat the slowly-descending Ducks and almost took down a better Duck team last season.
I'm tempted to pick the Beavers to win two of them, but that's a little too far so I will just go with Arizona. The Wildcats seem like a six-win regular season team at best to me, the Beavers will be really hungry for a win at this point and it will be at what will most-likely be a chilly Reser Stadium.
How Will They Feel in December?
A two-win season never feels good, even coming if it technically is an improvement from a winless in-conference season in 2015. A Pac-12 win will feel nice and I think the Beavers will be a lot more competitive in their losses in this season, but as we have seen with Colorado in recent seasons, that slow build of improvement which eventually gets back to being a competitor is painful.
Andersen's job will be safe, but it will be very clear that the Beavers are going to have to, at the very least, compete for a bowl game in 2017.