The Oregon State Beavers are anxious to get back to work.
Coming off a bye, the Beavers host San Diego State (1-1) on Saturday night, looking to start the season 3-0 before their Pac-12 schedule gets underway. Oregon State opened with a win at home over Portland State and followed it up with another on the road against Hawaii.
''It's all about the process with the growth of your team,'' Beavers coach Mike Riley said. ''The more you find out, the more the players figure out how the team's gonna win, the more it's going to help you down the road.''
Last season when the Beavers visited San Diego State, Sean Mannion led a come-from-behind 34-30 victory. Mannion hit Terron Ward for a 10-yard score to pull Oregon State within 30-28 before cornerback Steven Nelson intercepted Quinn Kaehler's pass and returned it 16 yards to give the Beavers the lead with 2:38 remaining in the game.
Mannion finished with 367 yards passing and three touchdowns.
He's again the leader of the Beavers' offense this season, with 628 yards and four touchdowns this season. The senior captain needs 186 yards passing this week to pass Derek Anderson on Oregon State's career list.
''He is a good quarterback. I played against him last year and have respect for him. He is going to do really well in the future and going into his career,'' San Diego State linebacker Cody Galea said this week. ''Right now, we have a game against him and the whole football team. It's not about just him. It's about his whole squad against our whole squad.''
San Diego State is also coming off a bye week after falling 31-27 on the road to North Carolina. The Aztecs led by 14 points with less than five minutes left in the third quarter before the Tar Heels scored on four straight possessions to take a 4-point lead.
Kaehler threw for a career-high 341 yards with a touchdown and led the Aztecs to a first-and-goal from the North Carolina 3 in the final minute - but he was picked off trying to hit Lloyd Mills in the end zone.
''I think they're fine. I think the bye week gave them a couple extra days to feel bad about it,'' coach Rocky Long said about the loss. ''Football teams that have a chance to win the next game never worry about the last game, win or lose.''
The Aztecs are 8-4 following a defeat under Long.
TRACKING SEAN: Earlier this week Oregon State launched the website: SeanMannionTheQB.com. The site aims to help fans follow Mannion as he chases school and Pac-12 conference records this season.
PENALITES: The Beavers spent part of the bye week addressing penalties, an issue because through just two games they've had 26 for 218 yards. ''You try to clean up technique and remain sound on procedure and that will hopefully solve the problem as we go forward,'' Riley said.
MISSING RUFFIN: Aztecs senior wide receiver Ezell Ruffin broke his collar bone in the loss at North Carolina and will miss six to eight weeks - but not the season as originally feared. ''I think we have some young, talented wide receivers just like we have some young, talented safeties. But whenever you lose a player of (Ruffin's) ability and experience, you can't replace him. So obviously it hurts us,'' Long said. Ruffin had six catches for 116 yards this season.
LONG ON MANNION: Long, who played quarterback during his college days, had high praise for Mannion: ''He's big, strong, has an excellent arm and is very accurate with the football. But the most impressive thing about him to me is he never gets rattled. When things go bad, it doesn't bother him. He just keeps hanging in there and throwing the ball, and most of the time it's right on the money.''
HISTORY: The two teams are meeting for the fifth time with the series split at two games each. San Diego State hasn't visited Corvallis since a 35-3 defeat in 2000. In their last 22 games against the Pac-12, the Aztecs have won only once: a 42-24 victory over Washington State on Sept. 17, 2011.