Beavers prepare for No. 3-ranked Broncos

While their blue practice field adds an amusing touch to the preparations for No. 3 Boise State, the Oregon State Beavers are serious about the challenge they face in the Broncos.

"It is all about the football," coach Mike Riley said. "We're going to have to play a really good football game."

The No. 24 Beavers visit the blue turf at Boise State on Saturday, after holding their own but ultimately losing 30-21 against TCU, and then fending off Louisville 35-28 this past Saturday.

In preparation, the Beavers painted Prothro Field on campus. Oregon State diluted 70 gallons of white grass paint as a base under 280 watered-down gallons of blue grass paint. The paint was donated. Because it's water based it's also green, so to speak.

"If we get any rain, we've got a problem," Riley said.

Jokes aside, Oregon State realizes how much of a challenge the Broncos — with their national title hopes — truly pose. Boise State defeated then-No. 10 Virginia Tech 33-30 to start the season, before routing Wyoming 51-6 last weekend.

Saturday is the home opener at Bronco Stadium, where Boise State has won 56 straight regular season games. Overall, the Broncos have a 16-game winning streak.

The stage this Saturday doesn't get much bigger in the regular season. ESPN's "Game Day" will be there, and the game will be broadcast on national television. That's because the Beavers are arguably Boise State's biggest obstacle until Nov. 26 when they face Nevada, a team that upset California.

With their national profile diminished ever-so-slightly when Virginia Tech lost to lower-tier James Madison, the Broncos need to strengthen their resume before the team can legitimately talk about BCS-busting. They'll likely have to win convincingly over Oregon State to make their case.

"We're still a work in progress," said coach Chris Petersen. "We need to get through a few more games and see what we have."

The Beavers have a recent history of knocking off high-ranking opponents. Oregon State upset No. 3 USC at Reser Stadium in 2006, then beat No. 2 California in Strawberry Canyon in 2007, and memorably toppled the No. 1 Trojans again in 2008.

However, the Beavers haven't defeated a nonconference opponent ranked that high since 1967 when they defeated then-No. 2 Purdue 22-14. The Broncos are the highest-ranked nonconference team OSU has played since No. 3 LSU in 2004.

"I really don't pay attention to rankings but I know Boise State is a really good team," Oregon State linebacker Dwight Roberson said. "We are ready for the challenge to play against a team that has won at home 56 straight times and is third in the nation. After all, it's a football game. We're ready to play and they're ready to play and Saturday will be a good football game."

Because they've had some success in high-profile games and because they were able to hang tough with the Horned Frogs at Cowboys Stadium, Oregon State won't surprise Boise State.

Riley hopes the attention has prepared his team — much like the blue practice field.

"You learn how to handle, and play and focus despite everything that's going on around you. That's what we want our program to be and be considered anyway, so the more that becomes commonplace, the better it is for your players," he said. "They can know that when the ball is kicked off, it's all about football, regardless of what has gone on. That's the major lesson for our team."

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