Lockdown defense paves way for OSU

PASADENA, Calif. — If the Oregon State football team makes the move that many expect and is voted into the top 25 this weekend, the Beavers can thank their run defense for putting them back in the national conversation.

Oregon State smothered another potent running attack on a sweltering afternoon Saturday at the Rose Bowl, leading the way in a 27-20 upset victory against No. 19 UCLA.

"Defensively, again, we were remarkable," said coach Mike Riley, who tied Lon Stiner for the most coaching victories at Oregon State (74). "That was a really good group of offensive players, and a good offensive scheme, and I thought we just kept playing."

Oregon State (2-0) began the day with one notable statistic on its side. The Beavers were the only BCS team who had played just one game thus far this season. That was a 10-7 victory over then-No. 13 Wisconsin two weeks ago in Corvallis.

Now that they held the nation's leading rusher, UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin, to just 45 yards in 12 carries, their run defense might be in a class by itself, too.

In the win against the Badgers, Oregon State held running back Montee Bell to 61 yards in 15 carries. Bell was a 1,900-yard rusher for Wisconsin last season. In two games against ranked opponents who excel in the ground-and-pound game, the Beavers have allowed just 107 rushing yards.

Franklin, who came in averaging 180 yards a game this season, managed just 15 in the first half and had 28 with a minute left in the third quarter. By then, the Bruins (3-1) were trailing, 24-10.

"They have a very good run defense," said UCLA coach Jim Mora. "They are big and physical up front. Some people call it a seven-man front, but it's a nine-man front with inverted safeties. In run support, they respond very quickly and scouted the point and won the battle at the line of scrimmage,"

Oregon State linebacker Michael Doctor was the biggest nemesis for Franklin. He finished with nine tackles and capped the day by recovering an onside kick with 1:47 remaining in the game and the Beavers leading by seven points.


QUITE A HAUL: Oregon State receivers Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton had career-best afternoons against the Bruins, each burning UCLA defensive back Sheldon Price for long touchdowns in the process.

Cooks, a sophomore, finished with 175 yards on six receptions, the first 100-yard game of his college career. His 75-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter was the longest scoring reception for the Beavers since Sean Canfield hooked up with James Rodgers for an 87-yard touchdown on Sept. 5, 2009.

Wheaton, a senior, caught nine passes for a career-high 150 yards. His 42-yard touchdown reception gave Oregon State a 17-3 lead in the second quarter. Cooks and Wheaton are the first Oregon State players to surpass the 100-yard receiving mark in the same game since Oct. 9, 2009, when Wheaton and Rogers hit triple digits against Arizona.

"They were huge," Riley said of the long touchdown passes. "You just need to get some big chunks once in a while. It's really hard to just chip away all the way down the field and do that all the time. So, to get some big plays was huge for us today."

Price also committed a pass interference penalty on Wheaton on third-and-goal at the UCLA 7-yard line with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Storm Woods scored on a 2-yard run on the next play to push Oregon State's lead to 24-10.


RESILIENT BEAVERS: Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion also threw for a career-best 379 yards, completing 24 of 35 passes. He made his only mistakes of the game on back-to-back plays in the third quarter, but UCLA couldn't take advantage.

Mannion fumbled during a sack by UCLA defensive end Anthony Barr early in the quarter and the ball was recovered by the Bruins. However, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw incomplete on a fourth-and-one play to stall that drive.

On the Beavers' next play from scrimmage, Mannion was intercepted for the first time this season, but again the Bruins failed to take advantage, as Hundley missed a wide-open Kenneth Walker near the goal line on a deep post pattern, and another freshman, running back Steven Manfro, was unable to come down with a well-placed pass on third down that would have put the ball near the Oregon State 15-yard line.

Oregon State then went 88 yards in 13 plays to take a 24-10 lead.

"When something bad happened, nobody blinked and somebody else made a play," Riley said. "I was just so proud of them for their resiliency, for playing hard and making plays to win the game."


STANDING FIRM: The Beavers were especially good on third down against UCLA. The Bruins were able to move the chains just twice on 15 third-down situations. Of course, that's nothing new for UCLA, which came into the game 16 of 48 on third downs this season, good for 94th in the nation in that category. The Bruins also failed to capitalize on their only fourth-down try of the game.


UP NEXT: After knocking off two ranked opponents in consecutive games for the first time since the 2000 season, the Beavers may get a chance to beat ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks for the first time in program history. They travel to Tucson, Ariz., next week to play Arizona, which was ranked 22nd entered Saturday's game at No. 3 Oregon.

After that, Oregon State doesn't meet a currently ranked opponent until November, when it faces No. 9 Stanford and Oregon. The Beavers do not have No. 13 USC on their conference schedule this season.

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