Olander makes the most of his opportunities

BOISE, Idaho — Boise State's week-long emphasis on how it needed to contain Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea meant senior left defensive tackle Brennan Olander had a chance to shine — and he didn't disappoint Saturday night.

The North Valley High product made a couple of key plays, getting penetration into the Broncos' backfield.

Olander finished with two tackles and a tackle for loss. Early in the second quarter, Olander's tackle of Boise State backup quarterback Joe Southwick on third-and-short forced the Broncos to kick a field goal.

"Brennan always goes in there and does a good job," Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said after the game. "He gives everything he's got. He's been a solid player who has gotten to be a very good player for us."

Olander's play up front was particularly vital given the fact that Boise State's offensive line double-teamed Paea all night and prevented him from making a tackle.

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TOP SPECIAL TEAM?: In Phil Steel's preseason college football magazine, he ranked Boise State as the top special teams unit in the country. But Oregon State stayed in the game by being the strong special teams unit all night.

James Rodgers' 54-yard punt return for a touchdown helped the Beavers tie the score at 7-7 late in the first quarter. It was Oregon State's first punt return for a touchdown since 2006 when Sammie Stroughter returned a punt 70 yards against USC.

Unfortunately for Oregon State, it was the only punt of the night for Boise State.

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WORK IN PROGRESS: Sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz turned in his worst QB rating through the Beavers' first three games of the season at 110.21. And while Katz didn't do anything to take the Beavers out of the game, he didn't make enough plays necessary to give his team a chance to win.

Nevertheless, Riley remains patient in his development of the young signal caller.

"Katz made some really good throws, but he'll see some things on film where he will see some throws he could've taken," Riley said. "There were some places where his accuracy was a factor, too."

"It's an ongoing process," added the coach. "We're proud of how he hung in there. (Boise State) hit him a lot and harassed him a lot, but he didn't break. He's been through it now and he's still alive. We checked all his parts and he's good to go. We think he'll get better."

Katz finished the game 12-of-26 passing for 159 yards and one touchdown. Maybe most important at this point, he has yet to throw an interception.

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RED ZONE MATCH: Entering the game, Oregon State was a perfect 5-for-5 on red zone scoring opportunities, all resulting in touchdowns. However, the Beavers met their match in Boise State.

Boise State's defense only allowed Oregon State inside the 20 twice, once resulting in a missed field goal near the end of the first half.

In the third quarter, the Beavers broke through when Jacquizz Rodgers scored on a 4-yard scamper, the 36th touchdown of his career to place him fourth among Oregon State's all-time touchdown career leaders.

Conversely, Boise State was 6-for-6 on its red zone scoring opportunities, registering three field goals and three touchdowns.

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NO COMPARISON?: After having played arguably the toughest schedule in the nation to date with road games against No. 5 TCU and No. 3 Boise State, Riley refused to delineate which of the two programs was better — at least for now.

"The point differences were very close in those games," said Riley, whose squad lost to TCU by nine and Boise State by 13. "They're very similar teams. They have different styles offensively, so it's hard to compare that way. But defensively, they're both very much the same. They're very fast and experienced.

"I'm not going to be the one who separates them now; I'll have to leave my voting to that. And I don't have to do that right now."

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FOURTH TIME ISN'T CHARMED: Entering the game, Oregon State had won the last three times it faced a team ranked in the top three in the country, upsetting No. 1 USC in 2008, No. 2 California in 2007 and No. 3 USC in 2006.

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