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At 2-0, Beavers are believers

BY RANDY HAMMERICKSEN

Can you believe it? The Beavers are 2-and-0.

What does it mean? Only that they will win at least two games this season, although hope for more wins ahead had Beaver fans scurrying to their favorite restaurants and watering holes in good spirits by Saturday night.

Win No. 2 came for Oregon State earlier Saturday at steamy Parker Stadium when the Beavers used coach Mike Riley's diversified offense with good balance and near-flawless execution in rolling past the Baylor Bears, 27-17, in a game that wasn't played as closely as the final score might suggest.

Oregon State built a 24-3 lead in the third quarter before Baylor could get anything going offensively against OSU's defense, which was undersized but clearly quicker than the Bears' offense.

I can remember a lot of OSU coaches in the last 30 years, following the coaching career of Dee Andros _ the last OSU coach to have a winning season _ who would have taken two wins for the season.

But Riley's Beavers are two for two. That's the good news.

The bad news is that Oregon State starts a four-game road swing next Saturday when it travels to Los Angeles to meet Southern California. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Riley, the former offensive coordinator for the Trojans, who might be the head coach at USC right now if he had stayed at the school for one more year.

But Riley opted to leave former USC head coach John Robinson's program and take over as Oregon State's head coach in 1996. One year later, Robinson was fired by But Riley, a personable, humble man with an incredible feel for coaching offense, isn't looking back at what might have been at USC. He was highly regarded in Los Angeles for revitalizing Robinson's boring and one-dimensional offense structured around the running game.

Riley likes the idea of taking his Beavers to Los Angeles with a 2-0 record. Whether the Trojans _ who tend to overlook teams like OSU with its feeble football tradition _ will show interest in playing the Beavers remains to be seen.

I don't know how they will react to us at 2-and-0, said Riley. All I know is we'll go down there feeling good about ourselves with our record.

Here's more bad news for the Beavers: They will enter the USC game with a 12-game Pac-10 losing streak and a 16-game road losing streak. Considering Oregon State is meeting a Pac-10 team on the road at USC, the odds are not in the Beavers' favor at all.

But you still can't take 2-0 away from them. They think they can compete with anybody.

I don't care about the USC tradition, said OSU quarterback Terrance Bryant. We're going down there to beat them.

After USC, things will get even tougher the following Saturday when Oregon State plays at Arizona State. Then, it's on to Utah State and then to Stanford on Oct. 10 to conclude the four-game road swing.

Winning two of those four games would set up some interesting scenarios for the Beavers.

We're thinking about a possible bowl game, said sophomore tight end Marty Maurer, the son of Cascade Christian High football coach Andy Maurer. We think that's very realistic. When you're 2-and-0, you can think about things like that.

Maurer, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound sophomore, split playing time with senior Joe Kuykendall in the win over Baylor.

Maurer caught one pass from Bryant for 13 yards and he leveled a Baylor safety with a crunching block near the right sideline that sprung freshman tailback Ken Simonton on a 24-yard touchdown run to open the scoring in the first quarter.

Terrance (Bryant) has helped us balance our offense with his passing and running, said Maurer. His confidence and leadership in the huddle are giving the whole team confidence in him. We think we can move the ball against anybody. And even though the games coming up will be tough, we can win any of them.

Bryant, a transfer from Homestead Junior College in San Francisco and a former prep star from Miami, Fla., completed 21 of 36 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown. Bryant beat out Tyler Tomichin in fall camp for the starting quarterback position. He can throw the ball deep and put a soft touch on his throws.

He throws the ball where his receivers can catch it, said Maurer. And he reads things real well for a guy in his second game with us.

Bryant is pleased with his first two games as a major college quarterback.

I was nervous last week in my first game (a 48-6 win over Nevada) but I felt a lot better today, he said. I thought I was pretty cool and calm and threw the ball ball pretty well.

Bryant's No. — passing target is senior wide receiver Greg Ainsworth, who caught 10 passes for 84 yards against Baylor. Wide receiver Tim Alexander, a former quarterback in OSU's triple option offense, had four receptions for 36 yards.

Bryant says Maurer is a good target at 6-4 with good skills as a receiver.

For a sophomore, he has a lot of confidence, said Bryant. Nothing seems to bother him. He's not worried about anything.

Oregon State rushed for 139 yards to go with Bryant's 208 yards passing. Simonton, a redshirt freshman, rushed for 103 yards on 23 carries.

We're trying to have balance in our offense, said Riley. That's really important.

Going into the game, I felt this would be like playing a Pac-10 opponent because they (Baylor) had a size advantage. Our kids did a good job of making things happen despite being undersized.