Beavers and Hornets open Thursday night in Corvallis

Updated: August 26, 2003, 7:43 PM ET

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- As Mike Riley's second stint as head coach at Oregon State starts Thursday night, pacing the other sideline will be another coach with NFL experience who is returning to the college level.

Steve Mooshagian takes over at Sacramento State after serving as receivers coach for the Cincinnati Bengals for the last four seasons.

His first test will be Oregon State. The Division I-AA Hornets, part of the Big Sky Conference, have never faced a Pacific-10 Conference opponent.

Mooshagian, who was an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh before joining the Bengals, is undaunted.

"We don't have to play 11 Oregon States, we only have to play one or two of these teams a year," Mooshagian said. "So we can really go out and lay it on the line."

Riley is embarking on his second tour with the Beavers, taking over for Dennis Erickson, who left in the offseason to coach the San Francisco 49ers.

Riley first coached at OSU for two seasons in 1997-98, before leaving to take the head coaching vacancy with the San Diego Chargers. Last season he was defensive backs coach for the New Orleans Saints.

Riley was eager to get going, and Sacramento State provided a unique challenge -- with a similarly new coaching staff and the unfamiliar division.

"You have to be prepared for anything," Riley said. "It'll be a very interesting start with two new staffs and programs, in a way. I think the beginning of the game will be an interesting coaching time."

The Hornets, who finished 5-7 last year, return starting quarterback Ryan Leadingham, a junior who is already Sacramento State's career passing leader.

Fred Amey needs four catches and one touchdown to become Sacramento State's career receiving leader in yards, receptions and touchdowns. Last season he had 60 catches for 989 yards.

"These guys have been productive; (Leadingham) is one of the leading passers around, he's played and he's experienced. The receiver has made plays for them. Now they're going to be in a very wide-open offense," Riley said. "We're obviously going to be in some one-on-one situations where we have to come through, so I'm going to say that's definitely going to be a factor in this ball game -- how we handle their passing game."

Oregon State also has a junior quarterback with a year of experience, Derek Anderson, as well as speedy tailback Steven Jackson, who led the Pacific-10 Conference with a school record 1,690 yards rushing last season.

Mooshagian said he'd be looking to draft both Jackson and OSU receiver James Newson if he were still in the NFL.

"One of the ways they can beat you is put in two tight ends and pound it in with Jackson and just wear you down. That guy can carry 30-35 times a game," Mooshagian said. "If you leave Newson open one-on-one there they can get a lot of big plays."

Newson himself said it would be a disaster to think the Beavers -- who went 801 last season -- might have it easy against the Hornets.

"A couple of years ago we had Fresno State on the schedule and they beat us, so we aren't going to over look anybody," he said.

Still, the facts remain: Sacramento State has not defeated a Division I opponent since beating Cal State Fullerton, 29-3, on Sept. 26, 1992, while the Beavers are 5-0 against I-AA schools since 1997, when Riley first took over.

Additionally, Oregon State has won 16-straight nonconference games at Reser Stadium. Oregon States last home loss out of the Pac-10 came on Sept. 7, 1996, against Montana.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index