Beavers show spark after devastating loss to Huskies

EUGENE — In the week leading up to the 117th Civil War, there was an unusual lack of excitement surrounding the game.

Oregon had dropped out of the national and Pacific-12 championship pictures with two losses in its last three games and Oregon State had lost four straight. To top it off, the Ducks and Beavers both looked as though their minds were elsewhere in one-sided losses last week.

So of course they got together in Autzen Stadium Saturday and played one of the great games in a rivalry dating back to 1894, with four lead changes in the final quarter before Oregon pulled out a 36-35 win. Giving up the winning touchdown with less than a minute to play — after taking the lead with less than two minutes remaining — was a gut punch for the Beavers, many of whom dropped to their knees on the turf before finding their way off the field.

"It hurts," OSU senior cornerback Rashaad Reynolds said. "It hurts a lot. I can't even describe how much it hurts."

What lessened the sting at least a bit was the way the Beavers had bounced back from a loss to Washington six days earlier. That 69-27 embarrassment at Reser Stadium saw OSU give up school records for points and rushing yards allowed.

There was such a lack of emotion and execution that night that Oregon State head coach Mike Riley told his team during the week he didn't even want them thinking about the score during the Civil War.

"I want to see us play football" was Riley's message to the Beavers.

"I was totally devastated by that," Riley said of the loss to the Huskies. "I was disappointed in myself, our staff, the team. I thought it was essential (against Oregon) that we come out and play good football, play hard. I told them don't even look at the scoreboard because we've got to play better, and play with enthusiasm and passion.

"I told them (after the Civil War), 'Now at least you can all look in the mirror, and you can look at each other and be proud of your team.'"

That, Reynolds and junior quarterback Sean Mannion said, was at least minor consolation.

"Five straight (losses) still sucks," Reynolds said. "But the way the guys came and fought, especially after last week, we came in and a game like this, the world didn't give us a shot. But the way the guys came in and didn't give up is definitely a plus."

Added Mannion: "Every loss sucks, there's really nothing else to it. But I think there's a lot to feel good about; like I said at the start, I couldn't be prouder to be a member of this team. The way our whole team fought from start to finish, there's no quit in us."


BOWLING FOR BEAVERS?: Despite a five-game losing streak to finish the season, Oregon State is eligible for a bowl game by virtue of its six wins. However, the Beavers aren't guaranteed a postseason appearance; going into Friday there were 70 teams eligible for 70 bowl spots and more could qualify Saturday.

The Pac-12 has nine bowl-eligible teams and just seven bowl tie-ins; teams could still be invited by bowls that do not have a tie-in with the Pac-12. OSU's performance against Oregon helped its case for not being one of the squads left out when bowl invitations are issued.

"We should be in a bowl game," Riley said. "There's no doubt. Somebody wants this team in a bowl game."

If that's not the case, Saturday's loss would be the end of OSU's season and the end of the college careers for the Beaver seniors.

"I just leave it up to God; if it is, it is," said Reynolds, one of those seniors. "Of course it's going to hurt but it's God's decision and I'm going to take it whichever way it goes."


ON THE RUN: All season Oregon State struggled to run the football, averaging just 72.8 net yards per game. A big reason OSU hung with Oregon was a sudden surge in production on the ground as the Beavers ran for 231 yards. The Ducks' defense, ranked fourth in the conference against the run, had allowed an average of 158 yards per game.

"Our O-line did an outstanding job up front," said Mannion. "I think it was just the kind of thing as the game went along we had more and more success with it and I think we kind of built off that with the rest of our offense. I'm real proud of our group and our guys up front and they did a great job in the running game, and our backs."

Terron Ward went for a 145 yards, missing his career high by one yard, and a touchdown — the Beavers' first on the ground since beating California 49-17 on October 19.

It wasn't so much that the Beavers decided to stick with the running game, Riley said, as that they just did a better job of executing it. That gave the Oregon defense more to worry about than OSU's previous four opponents.

"It certainly makes you think of what might have been had we been able to be that balanced during the course of the year," Riley said. "We just did a better job blocking, running, all of it."


TOO MUCH TIME: When Oregon State scored to take the lead at 35-30 with 1:38 left, Riley felt perhaps the Beavers had left Oregon too much time for another drive.

"We were already starting to burn the clock a little bit trying to get it down because we were going to score — I felt real good about scoring," Riley said. "I didn't know if it was going to be a kick or a touchdown, but "¦ you've got to score. We just did it and they made a nice drive."

Added Mannion of the score, which came as freshman flanker Victor Bolden scampered 25 yards on a fly sweep: "It was the kind of thing where we're down, so priority number one is scoring. Victor made the great play on a fly sweep and ran it in, so that's the number one thing there. We can't overthink ourselves and worry about the clock; we had to go in and score and we did."

Incidentally, the fly sweep was the same play on which James Rodgers scored the winning touchdown in 2007, the last time OSU won the Civil War. Riley thought of that touchdown when Bolden scored his.

"Yeah — we just needed that fourth-down stop by Dorian Smith again," Riley said, alluding to the game-ending play in that 38-31, double-overtime win.


MOVING ON UP?: Going into Friday, Oregon State and Oregon had played 116 times, making the Civil War the eighth-most-played rivalry in the country at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level. The 117th game moved the Beavers and Ducks into a tie for sixth place, and it could climb even higher on that list in the next few years.

The Civil War's 117th renewal matched the Kansas vs. Nebraska series; the Jayhawks and Cornhuskers no longer meet every year since Nebraska moved from the Big 12 Conference to the Big Ten. Other longer rivalries no longer being contested because of conference shifts are Texas vs. Texas A&M (118 games before Texas A&M moved from the Big 12 to the Southeastern) and Kansas vs. Missouri (120 games before Missouri moved from the Big 12 to the Southeastern).


THIS AND THAT: Oregon State now trails the all-time series 61-46-10 and has lost the last six Civil Wars"¦ the game had a Citrus Bowl feel to it, as OSU wore its bright orange jerseys and pants while Oregon donned light-green jerseys and lemon pants "¦ Oregon State junior flanker Brandin Cooks passed Southern California's Marqise Lee for the Pac-12 single-season receptions record with a catch in the fourth quarter. Cooks finished the day with 10 receptions, bringing his season total to 120. With 110 yards in the game, Cooks now has 1,670 on the season, bringing him within 51 yards of Lee's single-season Pac-12 mark. Cooks recorded his eighth 100-yard game of the season "¦ Mannion continued his ascent in the Pac-12 career passing yards list. With 314 yards Friday, Mannion now has 10,177 in his career, passing Arizona's Nick Foles to move into 11th. He also moved into a tie for 14th in career passing touchdowns, with 67. Mannion also moved into second on the Pac-12 single-season list with 4,403, passing Arizona's Nick Foles (1. Cody Pickett, UW, 2002 — 4,458).

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