The Beavs will be trying to put last week’s heartbreaking loss to Stanford behind them tonight as they face USC at Reser Stadium. It’s pretty sad when we lose to the #6 team in the country by one possession and then have to watch as they move up to #5 despite having a previous loss to unranked Utah (who the Beavs beat already this season in Utah), and we just drop out of the rankings all together, back into the black abyss. Oh, how that three point loss to EWU continues to haunt us.
Before moving on to talk about USC, let’s take a moment to set the record straight for the ESPN highlight reel guys and everyone else that made it look like Stanford ran away with the game, despite the Beavs holding them scoreless the entire first half until the last seven seconds, and making it nearly a tie game at the end. The Beavers’ total possession time during the game against Stanford was 38 minutes, Stanford’s was 21. OSU had 23 first downs to Stanford’s 13, and OSU had more total yardage, holding Stanford to 273 total yards, their lowest total in oh, 14 games, and nearly 150 yards less than their average. Hats need to go off to our Beaver defense, led in large part by Scott Crichton, who for the first time this season, played like the defense we watched game in and game out last year. Our defense finally showed up in force last game, right on cue, when we really needed them. It’s just too bad that same defense didn’t show up against Eastern Washington, or we would probably be sitting in at least the top 15 right now. Stanford coach David Shaw after the game said that our defense put more pressure on their offense and their quarterback than they have felt all season, and yet unfortunately you don’t hear that in the highlight reels on ESPN. Those of us in Beaver Nation that were at the game saw it, and I want to give credit to them where credit is due for playing nearly a flawless game.
Special teams, unfortunately, did not play a flawless game against Stanford. A missed PAT and a fumble on the 12 yard line by true freshman Victor Bolden, who was carrying the ball in the wrong arm on a kick-off return, resulted in a quick score by the Cardinal and cost us dearly. Mike Riley’s choice to go for it on 4th and 3 in the 2nd quarter instead of kicking a 35 yard field goal will also haunt us moving forward. I am normally a fan of coaches going for it when the timing is right, but after watching Riley for years play it safe and not go for it on 4th down, even when we’re up by 27 against Hawaii and the ball is inside the 25 yard line, I was completely baffled by his decision to go for it on 4th and 3 against one of the top defenses in the country when we were an easy 35 yard kick away from another three points on the board.
The Offensive Line, which has been our weakest link off and on for years, had its worst game in at least a couple of seasons against the Cardinal last week and we are going to need them back tonight and on their game against a USC team that also has some big power guys up front. Letting your quarterback get sacked eight times, especially in your own house, is not OK. Let’s hope they’ve learned a valuable lesson and had a chance to re-group and are going to be back on their game tonight.
The Beavers have not even had a total of a week to rest up from a really physical game last week and we are going to be entering this game down some key guys, including senior receiver Kevin Cummings, who is out for the season after a wrist injury last week, and players at tight end. Our defense is still looking pretty good however, with guys like Zimmerman, who have consistently throughout the season been making big stops when we need them.
The USC Trojans have not won at Reser in nearly ten years, and as long as the same defense that showed up last week is in the house tonight and our offensive line does their job, we should be fine. Fingers and little rodent claws crossed, Beaver fans, and GO BEAVS!!!!