Monday, September 24, 2012

OSU defense has Civil War all over it

   The University of Oregon has been a staple of the Associated Press national rankings for most of the past three years, and is a regular part of the Top 5 among national voters.
   Oregon State?
   With a 27-20 victory over UCLA at the Rose Bowl and on ABC, the Beavers showed off they can beat a nationally-ranked team for the second time this season, and with a dominating defense that gave up only a few big plays - not consistent drives.
   Maybe Nicholls State won't have to fly to Corvallis after all.
   Both Oregon and OSU earned rankings Sunday, Oregon up one spot to No. 2 and the Beavers moving from a few votes to No. 18 showing that much of the nation paid attention to not only the final score, but how the final score of Saturday's game came about.
   OSU's got a defense and a savvy offense that can put together consistent drives.
   Put the two Oregon schools together, and you can start to look at their schedules and ponder thatNov. 24 game - Oregon at Oregon State. The Civil War. Will that be the game that sends an Oregon school to the Pac-12 title game for the second-straight year?
   Stanford appears as the main test having moved to No. 8 after its win over No. 3 USC two weeks ago.
   USC dropped to No. 13, but looks like the team that will win the Pac-12 South and be the opponent in the title game.
   UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State all received votes in the poll Sunday.
Stanford gives the Pac-12 North a trio of ranked teams and a pair of exciting contests: OSU at Stanford, Nov. 10, and Nov. 17, Stanford at Oregon.
   Nicholls State is set to fly to Corvallis to play the Beavers in a game rescheduled for Dec. 1 after the Colonels couldn't leave town due to Hurricane Isaac in the season opener for both teams. The game got rescheduled with the understanding it wouldn't be played if the Beavers played their way into the Pac-12 Title game.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Badgers got nothing on the Beavers

   The Oregon State public address announcer said it best with just under one and a half minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter:
   "I don't know what to say, really."
   Oregon State kept Wisconsin scoreless for over 58 minutes and were en route to forcing a Badger shutout for the first time since 1997 when the visitors responded with a last gasp. The drive took under a minute and a half to complete and ended in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Danny O'Brien to wideout Jacob Pederson, who took over for junior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis late in the first half after a big hit put him in the local hospital.
   What happened next was unbelievable by anyone's standards. The crowd at Reser Stadium anticipated an onsides kick, but nobody, along with their mothers, believed the Badgers could recover, march down the field and escape Corvallis with a victory.
   Once Wisconsin recovered the kick, the collective breaths of every Beaver Nation supporter was sucked out of the stadium quicker than Mike Parker could say "touchdown Beavers!"
   Anxiety rushed through the stadium, and although fans and reporters alike were unsure of what they saw, several Oregon State players on the sidelines knew the game was over.
    "I thought they touched it; I saw it," freshman running back Storm Woods said after the game. "I was just hoping they (the referees) would get the call right."
   After several minutes passed, the referees came away with the call: Wisconsin kicker Kyle French touched the ball nine yards into his kick, when it must go ten in order to become a live ball.
   The biggest non-conference victory in the last several decades for Oregon State, and a 33-game non-conference winning streak for Wisconsin, snapped, as the Beavers play the Giant Killer role once again.
   Wisconsin had no answers for the Oregon State defense this afternoon, attempting 23 rushes and gaining 76 yards. Despite Ball averaging 4.1 yards per carry, the Badgers came away on the day averaging just 1.5 yards per carry, something not a lot of fans anticipated given the Beavers defensive performance last year.
   "I think this was a big game on both sides of the ball," said Woods, "but kudos to the defense, especially."
   The Beavers defense was stifling in all definitions of the word, combining for three sacks, six passes broken up, two forced fumbles and six tackles for loss, which added up quickly: 44 lost yards from scrimmage for the Badgers offense.
   "It was just a beautiful job, a great mixture of stuff and the players played like crazy," Beavers head coach Mike Riley commented after the victory. "I think Coach Banker obviously had a great plan and utilized a lot of people, a great mix of what we were doing."
   Riley could not have asked for a better-executed game from his quarterback, as sophomore Sean Mannion completed 62% of his passes for 276 yards and a touchdown. Wisconsin was held to just one sack of Mannion, a sure testament to how well the Beavers offensive line played.
   Today's game was played in memory of the late Beavers defensive tackle Fred Thompson, who passed away last season. "I haven't said a lot about that to the team since the funeral until last night.. I reminded everyone that we lost a family member and we're going to commemorate it on our helmets." Fred's mother Cora was in attendance to witness today's victory.


  PLAY OF THE GAME: Midway through the third quarter the Badgers were set up for 2nd down and 11 yards to go. An O'Brien swing pass out to the right side found Montee Ball with plenty of open space to work with.... not for long as sophomore linebacker DJ Welch made an incredible, one-armed open-field tackle to avert the danger. Wisconsin would be forced to punt two plays later.
Stat/anecdote of the game: Former Heisman-trophy candidate Montee Ball was held without a touchdown for the first time in 22 games.
   OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Sean Mannion, no question. The sophomore managed the game like he had been in Mike Riley's offense for years and played fairly mistake-free football after he shook off a couple of errant throws to start the game.
   DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Dylan Wynn, again, no question. The sophomore defensive end terrorized the Badgers offensive line all game long and came away with a very impressive stat-line to start the season - six tackles, one sack, one tackle for a 12-yard loss and one forced fumble.
   The Beavers have next week off and will begin preparing for the UCLA Bruins on Monday at Prothero Field.