Raise your hand if you predicted Oregon State, not Oregon, would be the top offense in the PAC-12 North eight weeks through the 2021 season. With 2,651 yards of total offense, 6.56 yards per play, and 27 offensive touchdowns, the Beavers move the ball as efficiently as some of the nation's best.
Making his debut during the shortened COVID season of 2020, sophomore quarterback Chance Nolan (6’3”, 203 lbs) has improved drastically in his second year with the Beavers, bringing his competition percentage up from 50.5% to 63.4% with 1,053 yards through the air, throwing into the end zone nine times, while being picked off five times. Primarily a pocket passer, Nolan is deceptively quick on his feet and is capable of scrambling for a first down, but certainly doesn’t depend on his legs to carry the offensive workload, averaging just under six rushing attempts per game and 5.5 yards per attempt with a long of 25 coming against Idaho State in a 42-0 shutout in week three. Nolan has firmly planted himself in the conversation as one of the PAC-12’s best gunslingers in his sophomore campaign.
Junior running back B.J. Baylor (5’11”, 205 lbs) will control the ground game, accounting for 39.2% of all Beaver rushing attempts and 46.5% of all rushing yards gained this season. Baylor’s explosive play has allowed him to average 6.8 yards per rush (a PAC-12 leading average), many of which coming after contact as he drags opposing defenders for extra yards. Only UCLA can claim a better one-two punch between the passing and rushing attack with their dynamic duo of Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet.
Nolan has found a favorite target in senior wide receiver Trevon Bradford (6’0”, 184 lbs), reeling in 15 catches this season for 204 yards. while junior Tyjon Lindsey is the Beaver’s leading end zone magnet, finding his way to six points on three occasions. In total, eight different Beaver receivers are averaging over 10 yards per reception, which should keep Utah’s secondary busy.
WIth Utah’s offense firing on all cylinders as of late, this #PAC12AfterDark matchup has turned into an unexpected offensive showcase for the conference. While the nation will be taking in Oregon vs UCLA while ESPN’s Game Day crew is in town, Utah and Oregon State could very well be where the fireworks really take off this weekend.