Raiders excited to 'play up'

The Raiders know the drill.

Practice. Show up. Leave, hopefully with bodies and egos relatively intact.

Yes, it's time for Southern Oregon of the NAIA to face Portland State of the NCAA Division I FCS. It's time for a money game.

"Nothing different," SOU head coach Steve Helminiak said. "Since I've been here this is going to be our fourth Division I team that we've played so it's nothing new to these guys. They've played Idaho State, they've played (Sacramento) State, they've played South Dakota and now it's Portland State. So our approach is the same. It's the next game on the schedule."

Two weeks after the Raiders' dramatic come-from-behind, season-opening victory over Eastern Oregon, they will face the Vikings in a game that is expected to be pretty much decided by halftime, if not sooner. SOU will receive somewhere between $20,000 and $35,000 to make the trip, courtesy of Portland State, which expects a convincing win in return.

Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. at PGE Park in Portland.

Southern Oregon actually leads the all-time series 11-8-1, but the Vikings, who are coming off a 34-7 loss to Oregon State, have won the last seven matchups, including the last three by a combined score of 136-14. The two teams last played each other in 1975.

The Raiders' goal is to stay competitive for as long as possible, avoid injuries and build some momentum for next week's home game against Willamette.

The bad news is, SOU will be severely overmatched. The good news: motivation will not be a problem — not against a team that competes in the Big Sky Conference and is coached by former NFL bad boy Jerry Glanville.

"When we're playing Portland State, we don't have to get our guys going," Helminiak said. "They understand. They know it's Portland State. It's real easy for these guys to get ready for practice because they're playing up and they're exciting about it.

"We're playing a team that just played the Beavers."

The Vikings played the Beavers relatively well, too, racking up 351 yards of offense, including 274 through the air. Portland State quarterback Drew Hubel completed 20 of 37 passes for 252 yards without an interception. His favorite target was receiver Ray Fry, who caught 10 passes for 146 yards.

The Vikings were forced to abandon their running game early against the Beavers, finishing with 81 rushing yards on 25 carries.

"I guess there are a couple things we're unsure about," Helminiak said. "Coach Glanville has mentioned that they want to commit to the run a little bit more and when we saw them play against the Beavers they threw the ball all over the place. They've got a couple receivers that are really special, so offensively that's our biggest concern, their passing attack. But also in the back of our mind, they've mentioned that they want to run the ball."

The Raiders will try to throw off Portland State's passing attack by putting pressure on Hubel, something Oregon State was not able to do. Hubel wasn't sacked by the Beavers, avoiding their rush with a combination of quick reads and outstanding protection.

Helminiak hopes the Raiders can break through and at least disrupt Hubel's rhythm, but knows any success on that front will take a Herculean effort by the Raiders' linemen and linebackers.

"We're going to try to do some things to change it up and put some pressure on (Hubel), but I didn't see panic in their quarterback against the Beavers and I don't think he'll panic against us," Helminiak said. "But we've got to try to take him out of his comfort zone as much as we can."

When the Raiders have the ball, much of their game plan will rely on sophomore quarterback Paul Sweeney and his ability to throw the ball quickly and accurately. That's because, as Helminiak acknowledged, the Raiders will "try to throw the ball a little bit more" than usual in an effort to negate Portland State's sizable advantage on the line of scrimmage.

Sweeney passed his first test as SOU's starting quarterback, completing 18 of 32 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. Several passes were dropped, too, a problem that must be remedied in order for the Raiders to hang with the Vikings.

Portland State couldn't stop Oregon State from racking up 151 yards on the ground, but Helminiak was quick to qualify that.

"I don't know if that's a fair analysis because they're trying to stop (Jacquizz) Rogers," he said of Oregon State's star running back, who scored three touchdowns against the Vikings. "We don't have (Jacquizz) Rogers playing for us, but we have [running back] Brandon Baldwin, we think he's a pretty good football player, and we've got [running back] Ian Lloyd, and I think he's a pretty good football player. And I think we're OK up front, but there's a difference.

"We're just going to try to run our game plan and see what we can do. Try to be balanced and not let them focus on one aspect of our game. We'll put our best foot forward."

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