No. 16 Beavers host UC Davis in 2023 home opener

Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (#5) drops back to pass and surveying the field in a game against the San Jose State Spartans on 9/3. Uiagalelei scored five touchdowns in his Oregon State debut.
Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (#5) drops back to pass and surveying the field in a game against the San Jose State Spartans on 9/3. Uiagalelei scored five touchdowns in his Oregon State debut.
Lily Middleton

Last week, the Beaver football team earned its first win in the first game of its season, a dominant 42-17 road victory over San Jose State.

This week, Oregon State fans get their first look at the 2023 team in Reser Stadium as the Beavers prepare for their home opener against the UC Davis Aggies. 

The game against UC Davis marks the first game with the new west side of Reser Stadium, which had renovations completed prior to the start of the Beavers 2023 football season. The home opening game is also projected to be sold out, according to Beaver Athletics.  

Oregon State head football coach Jonathan Smith plans to take a minute to enjoy the new west side pre-game.

“Personally, I plan to get out there half (an) hour before and take a look at things.” Smith said, “I hope our players do too; that’s part of the experience and what we’ve done, and this getting built, cannot wait for a big-time atmosphere.”

The Beavers moved up in this week’s Associated Press college football top-25 rankings to No. 16 but remained at No. 18 in the coach’s poll after their win against San Jose State.  

The game between the No. 16 Oregon State Beavers (1-0) and the UC Davis Aggies (1-0) will kick off at 6:00 p.m. and will be televised on the PAC-12 Network. 

Oregon State currently leads the series 4-0 against the Aggies. The last time these two teams played each other was back in 1930 when OSU beat the Aggies 20-0 in Corvallis.

OSU quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei had an impressive debut for the Beavers in the first game of the season, as he accounted for five touchdowns against the Spartans. Uiagalelei had two rushing touchdowns, three passing touchdowns, and 239 passing yards.

This is the second time that Uiagalelei has scored five touchdowns in a game. The last time he scored five touchdowns in a game was against Wake Forest University when he was the starting quarterback for Clemson University.  

“There was a lot of positives, I think to take away from that first game; I was really pleased in the way that DJ was able to operate out there and converted on some third downs for us.” Oregon State offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said, “Made some good checks in the run game and was pretty efficient with the football, taking care of the football and made good decisions at the QB (quarterback) spot. A lot of good things.”

The Beavers enter this week with a nearly healthy roster. The only new injury was a stinger to inside linebacker Calvin Hart Jr., according to Smith. Hart should likely be available for Saturday and could’ve gone back into the game against the Spartans but was held out to not risk further injury.  

“Besides him (Hart), we did have some cramping go on; some guys had to get some hydration and whatnot, but nothing major.” Smith said.

Oregon State kicker Everett Hayes dealt with a groin issue last week and did not see any action.

The matchup also has some familiar faces on the Oregon State sideline for Aggies fans, as both Michael Frisina and Brandon Huppert, who are currently quality control analysts for the Beavers, served on the staff at UC Davis.

Frisina was a member of the Aggies staff in 2021, while Huppert was the defensive line coach with the Aggies from 2017-20.

The Aggies enter this week with a game under their belts against Texas A&M University-Commerce, which was a 48-10 win for UC Davis.

However, even playing an FCS opponent at home. Oregon State has their full attention on being well-prepared for the Aggies on Saturday. UC Davis has plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball that can pose challenges for the Beavers.

Aggies quarterback Miles Hastings threw for 239 passing yards and had a passing touchdown against Texas A&M University–Commerce. Running back Lan Larison accounted for five rushing touchdowns in the Aggies win and rushed for 109 yards.  

“They’re a good running team, and they got good players; their passing game compliments their running game.” Oregon State defensive coordinator Trent Bray said, “So, they’re going to test our eyes and test our discipline, a lot of misdirection and deception type of stuff and we got to be good with our eyes and discipline.”

On the defensive side of the ball for the Aggies, defensive back Markeece Alexander recorded a sack, five tackles, a tackle for loss, and an interception in the win last week. Jehiel Budgett, Mario Minor, and Zach Kennedy also had dominant performances on the defensive side of the ball, and the Aggies defense forced a combined three turnovers.

“I think UC Davis is extremely sound in the way that they operate their system. Their guys are well coached and understand their system; they’re in the right spot and aren’t busting a lot of things.” Lindgren said, “Pretty good size up front; I like the linebackers that they got. I think it’s going to be a week for us where we got to be on top of our game and think they’re one of the better defenses in the Big Sky Conference.”

For the Beavers, they aim to carry over last week’s success against San Jose State into this week and look to improve their record to 2-0 in non-conference play. A win would also give the Beavers their first home win of the season with the new west side of Reser Stadium.

UC Davis, like Oregon State, looks to continue their success from last week against a FBS opponent and potentially secure a win on the road.

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