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Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover the Pac-12 for The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Beavers suddenly the darlings of the Pac-12

The last we saw of Oregon State, the Utes were running all over the Beavers in a 27-8 beatdown last October at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It was pretty clear then which team was on the rise and which was at its low point.

But the times have changed.

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While Utah and Oregon State won't play again for another month, it's now equally apparent which team is trending in which direction. The Beavers are 2-0, with both wins coming against ranked opponents (Nebraska and UCLA). Sean Mannion, the quarterback who the Utes repeatedly beat up on, is showing poise and precision in the passing game. Receivers Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton look like all-conference performers if they can stay consistent.

Oregon State debuted at No. 18 in the AP Top 25 this week after a 28-21 win at the Rose Bowl last week. Now, we're not reactionaries enough to suggest that Oregon State will be making a return to that venue in January.

However, the resurgent Beavers are, in fact, thinking Rose Bowl, a dream which is aided by the fact the Beavers don't play USC this season.

"That bond we created in the offseason, it’s definitely helping on the field," senior receiver Markus Wheaton told The Oregonian. "We came into the season with one goal and we still have that goal. People will probably think it’s far-fetched, but if we stick together, anything is possible. We’re working to get there."

The Beavers are far and away the darlings of the early Pac-12 season, partly due to coach Mike Riley's nice guyness. After the win at UCLA, he stayed true to his promise and treated the entire team to In-N-Out burgers (no word on if the Beavs will swing into the American Fork In-N-Out if they win in Provo in three weeks).

In some ways, the Beavers are overshadowing the neighboring Oregon Ducks, who are ranked No. 2 in the country, but have a lot of questions going into week 5.

The Beavers are only 2-0, and has had two weeks to prepare for each of its two opponents, and advantage that can't be overstated. Saturday's game at Arizona will be a clearer barometer of where Oregon State is going.

PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» Free weekly Wildcat sports magazine covers UA-Oregon game
» Wildcats prepare for game at No. 2 Oregon
» Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Strong season will help "Hill Mary" be remembered
» UA football: Pair of defensive players leave team

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» ASU football practice report from Tuesday
» Haller's Pac-12 power rankings
» Graham breaks down ASU's defensive woes
» Rankings: Colleges by AZ high school players

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Cal could face Title IX suit with field hockey now homeless
» Cal's struggling pass defense better gets its act together quickly
» Cal's Oct. 11 home game vs. Washington set for 3 p.m. kickoff
» Cal outlasts Colorado 59-56 in two overtimes

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Speedy freshman Donovan Lee gives CU Buffs another playmaker
» Colorado coached to avoid coin-toss glitches, MacIntyre says
» Colorado's MacIntyre gratified Buffs practiced hard Monday
» CU Buffs tackle Jeromy Irwin might play vs. Hawaii after concussion

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon Ducks open up Autzen Stadium doors for Fan Fest: Photo gallery
» No. 2 Oregon's key to a perfect start might not be what it's done, but what it hasn't: Oregon rundown
» Play week 6 of 2014 College Football Pickoff game: Texas A&M or Mississippi State?
» Arizona Wildcats attempt to upset the Oregon Ducks for a second consecutive year

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State roundup (Sept. 19)
» OSU men's basketball: Tinkle says positive steps being made
» Spencer to become new AD at Evansville
» BeaversSalute program gives tickets to military personnel and veterans

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Stanford's Shaw shoots down interest in Raiders job
» Stanford beats Washington with fourth-quarter touchdown
» Matchup: No. 16 Stanford at Washington
» Stanford facing must-win game at Washington's noisy Husky Stadium

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Improving UCLA has questions to answer during preseason football camp
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA's prized recruit Eddie Vanderdoes cleared to play by NCAA after leaving Notre Dame
» Pac-12 Media Day: Eyes on Anthony Barr for UCLA's 2013 hopes

USC (Los Angeles Daily News)
» USC Football Notebook: Marqise Lee's injury not too serious
» USC Football Notebook: QBs Max Wittek, Cody Kessler present dilemma for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel thinks Trojans might not miss QB Matt Barkley
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Dion Bailey says it's 'now or never'

Washington (Seattle Times)
» Washington football: A progress report after five games
» Storm 2014 Exit Interviews: Tanisha Wright had a memorable 10th WNBA season
» UW progress report: What we know, what we don't know about the Huskies after five games
» Are Pac-12 quarterbacks conference's best class ever?

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Morning links and a live chat to come
» WHL notes: Paddock breaks through
» Defending option Idaho's next challenge
» Defense rebounds from a slow start



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