OSU can’t fall the Cardinal
The Oregon State football team traveled to Palo Alto, Calif. this past weekend to take on the Stanford Cardinal with hopes of continuing their dream season.
Just a week removed from posting a resounding bounce-back win against Arizona State, OSU hoped to build off the momentum gained from that contest as they prepared to take on the No. 16 team in the country.
Despite rallying from an early 14-0 hole, and taking a 23-21 lead in to the 4th quarter, the Beavers failed to take advantage of key possessions in the final quarter and succumbed to the Cardinal 27-23.
After the loss, the Beavers (7-2, 5-2 PAC 12) fell to No. 16 in the BCS, and are witnessing the dreams of heading to the Rose Bowl slowly slip away.
How’d it happen?
If this game had been played in just the 2nd and 3rd quarters, we’d be talking about a Beaver victory this week. However, with four quarters being standard procedure in college football, Oregon State doomed themselves by not putting together a complete 60 minutes.
Getting out to a slow start, both offensively and defensively, the Beavers quickly found themselves in a 14-0 hole against Stanford.
Dealing with some quarterback issues of their own, the Cardinal rolled out freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan for his first career collegiate start. Hogan brought a different kind of quarterback play to the field for Stanford Saturday, and initially he had the OSU defense on their heels.
After some adjustments to his play style, the defense settled in, just as the OSU offense began to find their stride.
After a Terron Ward touchdown in the 2nd quarter, a Trevor Romaine field goal, and then a Cody Vaz-to-Markus Wheaton touchdown to open the second half, the Beavers found themselves back in the game, up 17-14.
Extending their lead to 23-14 by way of a couple more Trevor Romaine field goals, the Beavers seemed to be in complete control of the game.
Then Stepfan Taylor scored to close out the 3rd quarter, and the momentum pendulum began to swing in Stanford’s direction; it didn’t look good for OSU.
OSU quickly went three and out to open the 4th quarter, and it seemed as though Stanford was poised to march right down the field and take the lead.
That is, until Rashaad Reynolds came up with a very timely interception, and all seemed well again in Beaver Nation.
Talk about some ups and downs.
Two plays later, Cody Vaz returned the favor by fumbling the ball away, and giving Stanford possession of the football deep in OSU territory. Six plays later, Stanford found the endzone, and reclaimed the lead—for good.
Another punt, and a failed fourth-down conversion later, and Oregon State was sent to their second loss of the season.
What Went Wrong?
The slow start, coupled with the disappointing 4th quarter, ultimately doomed the Beavers on Saturday.
Vaz didn’t look nearly as sharp as he has in the past, and his 4th-quarter fumble will be remembered more than his 2nd and 3rd quarter play that brought the Beavers back into the game.
Still, it’s hard to blame the game completely on Vaz’s errors, but it has started some grumblings among fans, and the clamoring for Sean Mannion‘s return could take place any day now.
[With Vaz hobbled by an ankle injury to start the week's practice, OSU may see Sean Mannion under center out of necessity, as opposed to an official change.]
Where does OSU go from here?
With the California Golden Bears traveling to Corvallis this weekend, Oregon State figures to get back to their winning ways.
Although Coach Mike Riley will always tell the players to not look past any opponent, it will be favorable for OSU to work out some of their issues against Cal before the Ducks come to town the following week.
Figuring out how to put together four quarters of football will be key against the Golden Bears this weekend, as well as fine tuning the starting quarterback situation.
If Mannion is healthy enough to go on Saturday, I say Riley should give him the nod and see what he can do.
At 7-2 the Beavers have been no disappointment. Being upset when OSU sustains just their second loss this late in the season is something to be oddly happy about.
While the Rose Bowl may be out of reach at this point, the season is not a lost cause.
Oregon State returns home this weekend to take on the Golden Bears of California. Kick off is slated for 7:30 p.m., and the game will air on the PAC 12 Networks.