Heading into Week 6 of college football, we are almost halfway through the season and the quarterback situation in the Pac-12 has only gotten more intense as the season has progressed. During the off-season, it was being declared all over that the Pac-12 was living up to its name as the “Conference of Quarterbacks.” Let’s take a look at the five …
HONOLULU, Hawaii – Senior quarterback Sean Mannion threw three touchdown passes and Oregon State defeated Hawaii 38-30 on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
Mannion completed 26 of 37 passes for 300 yards as the Beavers improved to 2-0 heading into the first of their two bye weeks. Tailback Terron Ward rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns as the Beavers piled up 464 yards of total offense.
Mannion passed Stanford’s Steve Stenstrom (10,911) and Washington State’s Alex Brink (10,913) to assume fourth place on the Pac-12 career passing yardage list with 11,064 yards. Next to pass is former OSU standout Derek Anderson, who threw for 11,249 yards from 2001-04.
He also moved into a tie with Carson Palmer of USC for 11th place on the all-time touchdown passing list with 72.
“I think when we look at this game we will wish we closed it out better but we made the plays to win and that’s what most important,” Mannion said. “It was a good experience to come into a good environment and beat a tough team.
“The win is what is most important. We made enough plays to win against a really tough team.”
The Beavers never trailed and led 38-7 before the in the fourth quarter before the Rainbow Warriors (0-2) rallied for 23 unanswered points. However, an onside kick with 1:35 remaining failed and the Beavers ran out the clock.
“It wasn’t the kind of finish we wanted, and we have a ton of things to work on” said defensive end Obum Gwacham, who had two sacks. “We have some things to polish up heading into our bye week.”
OSU took a 7-0 lead at 10:12 of the first quarter on Mannion’s 4-yard TD pass to Richard Mullaney. A fumble recovery that ended a Hawaii drive at the OSU 16, and long completions to Victor Bolden (40) and Connor Hamlett (37) set up the score.
Hamlett made it 14-0 at 6:15 with a 5-yard TD reception from Mannion. Ward’s 35-yard run positioned the Beavers for the touchdown. OSU increased that lead to 21-0 at 13:30 of the second quarter on Ward’s 32-yard TD run.
Hawaii parlayed an interception into a touchdown to cut OSU’s lead to 21-7. But Garrett Owens’ 27-yard field goal with 6:12 left in the half gave the Beavers a 24-7 lead and Ward scored on a 2-yard run with 1:31 remaining for a 31-7 intermission advantage.
“We were sharp and we did a lot of good things,” OSU coach Mike Riley said of the first half, when OSU outgained Hawaii 348-111 and outrushed the Warriors 141-44.
Mannion’s 7-yard TD pass to Bolden on the first possession of the second half made it 38-7. OSU then held on for its fourth straight win in the series it now leads 7-3. It will resume in Honolulu in 2019.
The Beavers have a bye on Saturday. They host San Diego State on Sept. 20 in their next game, at a time to be determined. The Aztecs (1-1) lost 31-27 at North Carolina on Saturday; they have a bye this coming Saturday.
There is a reason that the Pac-12 is known as the “conference of quarterbacks,” and the talent present in the conference this year are a testament to that title. The conference lost only two starting quarterbacks in Keith Price and B.J Denker to the NFL and most teams return their starters. This will only add to the intense competition expected in the Pac-12 and lead to a very entertaining 2014 football season.
The Pac-12′s returning QBs –
Connor Halliday — Washington State — Senior
The Cougars’ 2013 season started off in a disappointing fashion after a loss to Auburn, but the Cougars bounced back to win three straight games, thanks in part to QB Connor Halliday. The 6-4, 190-lb. junior completed 62.9% of his passes (449 of 714) with 34 touchdowns, averaging 6.44 yards per pass attempt. His adjusted QBR was 133.9. Washington State ended the season at 6-7, which was an improvement from the 3-9 season of the previous year, yet disappointing in its own right.
Halliday is a good quarterback — but with accuracy issues, which is highlighted by the 22 interceptions that he threw. WSU lost four of their most experienced offensive linemen in Elliott Bosch, Josh Fullington, Matt Goetz and Rico Forbes to graduation and now have a collection of freshmen and sophomores with little or no experience left to fill the gaps. The Cougars will need their young OL to step up and give Halliday more time to make his throws.
In a fun fact, Connor Halliday set an FBS record for most pass attempts in a game, with 89 – when the Cougars played Oregon. This video shows every completion he had during that game.
Kevin Hogan — Stanford — Junior
The Stanford Cardinal have been a thorn in the Oregon Ducks’ side for the past two years and QB Kevin Hogan has been one of the men leading the charge. The 6-4, 220-lb. senior led the team to an 11-3 season, completing 180-of-295 for 2630 yards and 20 touchdowns. He threw 10 interceptions and had a adjusted QBR rating of 151.5, putting him in the top 20 in the nation.
Stanford is a likely pre-season top 25 team and will most likely battle Oregon for the right to go to the Pac-12 championship game from the North Division. Hogan loses RB Tyler Gaffney to the NFL, but there is plenty of talent that is able to step up and help Hogan achieve great things this coming season.
Brett Hundley — UCLA — Junior
When Brett Hundley decided to return to UCLA for his redshirt junior year, he surprised some analysts and made the entire Bruins fan base very happy. Hundley, who completed 248-of-369 for 3071 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, led the Bruins to a 10-3 season, with a win in the Hyundai Sun Bowl against Virginia Tech. He had a 67.2% completion rate, throwing only 9 interceptions and ended the season with a adjusted QBR of 153.7, which landed him in the seventh position in Division I football.
The Bruins are projected by many to be in the pre-season top 10 and are considered to be national title contenders. Though they lose some talent to the NFL on both sides of the ball, they have a great set of receivers that is expected to step up and provide Hundley with the targets and blocks that he needs to succeed.
Hundley’s biggest improvement will need to come in his decision making skills. In the three games that the Bruins lost — against Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State — there were plays that could have turned the tide but were lost because Hundley couldn’t make a decision quick enough. If he can learn to make a decision quickly and act on it immediately and with confidence, he has potential to be even better than he already is.
Sean Mannion — Oregon State — Senior
For the first half of the season, Sean Mannion was giving that other quarterback from the state of Oregon tough competition in impressive stats and Heisman buzz. The 6-5, 220-pounder, who fought a tough battle for the starting position in 2013, completed 400-of-603 pass attempts and had 4665 passing yards, completing 66.3% of his passes.
He threw for 37 touchdowns and had 15 interceptions, though most of his interceptions came near the end of the season. Mannion had a adjusted QBR of 146.5, which ranked him in the top 30 in Division I football.
There are places that Mannion needs to improve but even if there weren’t, you can always get better. Mannion has great instincts which helped him have only three interceptions in the first half the season and needs his offensive line to step up and help him make plays better. The Beavers started off the season with a embarrassing loss to FCS Eastern Washington but came back to win six straight games before losing the final five of the regular season. They beat Boise State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl to end the season on a positive note.
Mannion is widely considered one of the best quarterbacks in the country heading into the 2014 season. The Beavers need to replace one of the best receivers in the country, in Brandin Cooks, and also need to replace top defensive end, Scott Crichton. If the Beavers can fill the holes left by these two and Mannion is as good as he was last year, they will be a threat in the Pac-12 North.
Marcus Mariota — Oregon — Junior
This last quarterback on the list needs no introduction. Marcus Mariota is arguably the best quarterback in the country, and the expectations for what he will do in likely his last year at Oregon, are extremely high. He was one of the Heisman front runners for most of last season before a knee injury late, impacted his performance and as well as his Heisman chances.
The 6-4, 211-lb Mariota, who is known around the country for his calm and collected demeanor – seemingly at all times – completed 245-of-386 for 3664 yards and 31 touchdowns. He threw 4 interceptions the entire year and those occurred in the last two games of the regular season.
Mariota carries a QBR of 167.7 and likely to retain that honor in 2014. Mariota was also Oregon’s second leading rusher and had 96 carries for 715 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Oregon will be in the top 5 of the pre-season top 25 and is considered to be a national title contender. The Ducks lose talent on both sides of the ball but have a slew of receivers — inexperienced, yet talented, players returning. If Mariota can stay healthy and the Ducks can fill the voids, nothing can stop Oregon from getting to the inaugural College Football Playoff.
All the talented quarterbacks in this conference make it impossible to choose just a few. I’m sure there are some backups on teams right now that will step up when they need to and make a name for themselves.
Top photo by Andrew Shurtleff
Now that there are only a couple of months left in which to humiliate Oregon State during the 2013/14 school year, I thought this would be a good time to see how the hapless Beavs got here. I decided to try and look back to a time when there were respectable athletic endeavors occurring in the little hamlet of Corvallis.
And really I never found much. The history of Oregon State football reads like this: Bad, worse, awful, dreadful, worse, worse yet, Terry Baker, really bad, really REALLY bad, Joe Avezzano bad, still bad, scholar-athlete Chad Johnson, bad, worse, tantalizingly close to okay, yecchh and Sacramento State.
Frankly it has been bad enough that a cottage industry of laughter has grown up around the school. It started many years ago when comic strips grew out of the feeble nature of OSU sports. I found a number of classic strips that address Oregon State’s football program, and their fans.
One such strip played off nicknames given to different units of good teams. Many of you may remember the Fearsome Foursome, the Purple People Eaters, the Orange Crush and the Steel Curtain. Well, Oregon State had a nickname for their defense as well.
One comic took in the overall essence of Oregon State sports. Their hapless football team, their basketball team that plays bad teams down to their own level before tens of fans who got in free and their rickety stadium named after a salsa that figures 50/50 to give you more runs than Oregon State’s baseball team puts up in a week and a half. This strip became regionally popular but, interestingly enough, found a greater audience in Lane County than in Benton County.
An honest OSU fan will admit that it’s been a pretty rough stretch for sports in Corvallis since, well, the dawning of time. While it is true that some folks hope that things will get better, most are willing to put up with sports conversation only until the topic can be deflected to something Oregon State does well . . . as soon as something like that can be found. [Ed. note: Bah dda Bing!]The institution’s alumni club chairman, Zach Ack, once got frustrated enough that he penned a strip of his own. This one detailed what it’s like to be a lifelong OSU fan.
And it doesn’t look like its going to get any better. Once in a while Oregon State lands a good player. Jacquizz Rodgers was no LaMichael James, but he was pretty good. Derek Anderson was no Joey Harrington, but he was pretty good. Sean Mannion was no Marcus Mariota, Bryan Bennett, Jake Rodrigues, Jeff Lockie or Morgan Mahalak, but he was pretty good. But it doesn’t seem to matter. I found a comic strip that details what a quality prospect on his way to Oregon State seems to represent.
But through it all, almost half (give or take a million) of the sports fans in the State of Oregon profess a greater liking for OSU than for UO. As crazy as that sounds, it must be a fact, because Beaver fans say it is. All we at FishDuck.com International can say to that is, “Half the state may be Beaver fans, but then there is the . . .
Top photo by commons.wikimedia.org
Now that the BCS National Championship Game is over, as well as the Bowl Championship Series- as we look ahead to 2014 there are some key players that will be returning to school rather than heading to the 2014 NFL Draft. Last month Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota and Center Hroniss Grasu announced they were returning to the Ducks.
Over the weekend two more potential Draft picks announced their intent to stay in school, including UCLA Quarterback Brett Hundley and Oregon State Signal Caller Sean Mannion. What does it mean for the upcoming season? For the Bruins it makes them the contender in the Pac 12 South from the start. To begin the year Jim Mora’s team faces Virginia on the road, followed by Memphis and a trip to Arlington to take on the Texas Longhorns and new head coach Charlie Strong.
Mannion and the Beavers host Portland State, visit Hawaii and host San Diego State, which with the way they ended 2013 should be quite a game. The Pac 12 piece of the 2014 schedule will be released sometime in the next week. We already know that there will be a Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State. We can hope that both QB’s are healthy at the end of the season, although everyone knows there is always something to play for in that game.
If I did my addition correctly there are now 232 days till the return of College Football and when it does come back it will not be for a BCS Championship, it will be for a Playoff. Regardless of who you are playing there is something to play for. Finish the season in the Top 4 and your season continues after the regular season. Of course, plenty can happen between now and then. Schedules are not set in stone, as we saw a few years ago when Oregon State headed to State College, Pennsylvania to meet Penn State. The Ducks also have some questions to resolve. Mainly, who will be the new Defensive Coordinator?
Now that we know who is staying and who is leaving for the NFL it is time to take some time to reflect on the season. Oregon finished 11-2 and wrapped up their fourth season in a row of being ranked in the Top 10 of the Associated Press Poll(9). For the record they were the highest finishing Pac 12 team. Stanford, who lost to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl, ended the season ranked 11th in the AP poll with an 11-3 record. Does that mean when the Preseason Poll comes out for the upcoming season that the Ducks will be ranked higher than the Cardinal? Where will Michigan State be? Could the matchup on September 13th 2014 at Autzen Stadium be an early matchup of Top 5 teams? All great questions. Now we just have to sit back and wait.
With players returning teams can now put their Ducks in a row so to speak. It is time to hit the recruiting trail as February 5th is getting bigger on the calendar. We wish the departing players well and welcome in the next class of athletes. For many of us August cannot get here soon enough as we start the whole thing over again.
The Oregon Ducks(10-2, 7-2) squeaked by the Oregon State Beavers(6-6, 4-5) 36-35 at Autzen Stadium in one of the most exciting Civil War games in recent memory. Led by the at times miraculous play of QB Marcus Mariota and WR Josh Huff, the Ducks were able to take the lead over the Beavers twice late in the second half and kept it as the clock struck midnight on OSU’s shot at its first Civil War victory since 2007.
Mariota threw for 285 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on the night. But the savior of the game and the Ducks season was Huff, who had 186 yards and caught three touchdown passes, including a clutch game winning catch with under a minute remaining. Thomas Tyner contributed the best game of his college career, rushing the ball 22 times for 153 yards and one TD. With the win, the Ducks not only salvaged a season that was on a steep decline ever since the Stanford loss, but its slim shot at being selected to a BCS game. They also generated a storybook exit to the Pac-12 careers of Duck seniors on senior night.
The Beavers may have fell short, but they gave the Ducks all they could handle. Despite having a relatively non-existent rushing attack for most of the season, the Beavs absolutely pounded the Ducks on the ground. Backup RB Terron Ward became the first Beaver of the season to eclipse the 100 yard mark, rushing the ball 17 times for 146 yards. Starter Storm Woods added 75 yards and OSU finished with 231 yards rushing. QB Sean Mannion had himself a day as well, throwing for 314 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. WR Brandin Cooks continued his historic season, catching 10 balls for 110 yards and breaking the Pac-12 record for most receptions in a season with 120.
How the Civil War was won:
On the first drive of the game, the Beavers swung for the fences on fourth and one from the Ducks 33, throwing it deep to Brandin Cooks on a post route. However, they struck out. Cooks was double covered and the ball wound up in the hands of CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
On the Ducks first play from scrimmage, Tyner exploded for a 40-yard run. RB De’Anthony Thomas finished off the drive by bouncing off his own blocker to the outside for a six yard score. Tyner scored a touchdown on the following drive from 12 yards out to cap a drive defined by screen passes to Huff and Braylon Addison.
At the 12 minute mark in the second quarter the Ducks forced a punt. But the ball fell through the grasp of Addison and was recovered by the Beavers at the UO 23. The Ducks D then put the clamps on the OSU offense, allowing only four yards in three plays. Though Beaver kicker Trevor Romaine missed the field goal, a Duck ran into the kicker, turning the missed field goal into a fourth and one opportunity. The Beavers converted on a slant-curl catch by Cooks. Then Woods stormed into the end zone on the final of three straight carries.
Oregon struck back with a 20-yard field goal by Matt Wogan, spearheaded by a 44-yard deep ball from Mariota to Huff.
After a 72-yard drive repeatedly pounding the ball to Woods and Ward, the Beavers easily converted an 18-yard field goal off the foot of Romaine. Mariota gave the ball right back to the Beavers after egregiously missing tight end Johnny Mundt to the right and into the hands of an OSU defensive back. On the Beavs next possession, lady luck struck the Ducks as Cooks caught a pass at the UO two yard line, but fumbled the ball into the end zone. Oregon retained possession. But after Mariota turned the ball over again on another puzzling interception, Mannion threw a wide open TD pass to Ward on a play action pass to the flats.
17-17 at the half
The Ducks continued their lackluster play, turning the ball over on downs on the opening series of the second half. The Beavers took the lead via a Romaine 47-yard field goal. But Mariota wouldn’t let the Beavs lead for long. The Duck QB delivered a 21-yard scamper, nine yard throw after escaping pressure and a 29-yard TD pass to Huff.
The Beavs then missed out on another scoring opportunity after getting stuffed within the Ducks 5-yard line on fourth and one. After a stalled UO drive, OSU made another FG on the second play of the fourth quarter. On the following Oregon drive, Thomas made his presence felt, delivering consecutive runs of 20 and 13 yards. However, Wogan missed a 43-yard FG.
On a drive highlighted by a sweet cutback by Ward that resulted in a 31-yard run, the Beavs finally found the end zone on a play action pass from Mannion to Tyler Anderson for a TD. After a two-point conversion run was halted by Taylor Hart, the score was 24-29 OSU.
Staring in the face of defeat, The Ducks rose to the challenge. On third and eight, Huff became the ninth player in UO history to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark after catching a timely 37-yard pass. Then on third and 13 the Ducks elected to run the ball up the middle with Tyner. It proved to be a wise decision as the RB ran for 25 yards. Finally, on fourth and 11 Mariota threw a dart at the sidelines on an end zone out route to Huff for the TD.
After another 70-plus yard Beaver drive culminated by a reverse for a TD by Victor Bolden, OSU took the lead 35-30 with 1:38 remaining.
The Ducks were down, but Mariota made sure they weren’t out. The Duck QB put the team on his back and arguably delivered the most important drive of his career. The Ducks went 83 yards on 8 plays in 1:09 seconds. After a missed two-point conversion, the score was 36-35, Oregon. On the Beavs final drive, two potential 20 plus yard gain’s slipped through the hands of Cooks. On the final play the Beavs tried a Boise State-esque hook and ladder, but an OSU player fumbled as the clock ran out.
36-35 Final Score
Head coach Mark Helfrich proves prophetic: “We were talking about it at the beginning of the fourth quarter that it was going to be one that we were going to be talking about forever.”
Taylor Hart puts game into perspective: “To be able to do that with my seniors, with these great coaches, it’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Hroniss Grasu on the epic battle: “Having that fight to never give up, they were punching us we were punching back to. “We had one chance to win the game and you can’t let that moment pass you by.”
Hart provides a look into the Ducks locker room post game: “They might be jumping around on couches, singing and having a good time.”
Dior Mathis on Huff’s performance: “I couldn’t be more happy, excited, proud of that guy. We’ve built a bond for 4 years, that’s like my brother.”
Mariota’s mindset during the final drive: I just focus on not letting the moment affect me. I was raised to be calm, cool and collected.”
Brian Jackson’s feeling before the final drive: “I wouldn’t say that I was hopeless, but I couldn’t do anything else. it was not my turn anymore.”
Jackson’s feeling after the final drive: “We literally pulled it out on the last drive. It’s going to be a great story for me to tell.”
Huff breaks down the game winning TD: “It was a post route and I decided to cut it short because Marcus was in trouble and he found me”
Huff realizes a dream: “The game winning touchdown is something I have been dreaming about since I was a little kid, and it came true.”
Huff on Oregon State’s defense: “They were giving us a lot of tampa two. They weren’t in quarters for the whole game. We had a chance to make plays down the field.”
Huff on the way his Pac-12 career ended: “Surreal, I didn’t imagine my last game to come down like that.” It takes me back to practicing those situations in the backyard with my cousins.”
Huff on the Beavers and UO Seniors: “To go out on top against the Beavers, our rival, it felt amazing. I came in with most of those guys and built a connection with most of those guys. It’s a great feeling.”
Huff on his Rose Bowl comments and the negative reaction they generated: “I don’t regret anything I said. I know I had a lot of fans turn their back on me. I came out here to play for my teammates. Hopefully I gained everyone back on my side.”
Huff on UO football: “This program changed me, it changed my life in so many ways.”
Huff on recent criticism: “No matter what people say about me or my team, I know were gonna go out there and do our best to compete.”
Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti on the win: “There are no ugly wins there are only good wins, this was a good win.”
Aliotti on the game as a whole: “Not so much as a coach, but as a fan that was a fantastic football game.”
Aliotti on UO football expectations: “I know we have great heights, but if a ten win season is never good enough than we are in a sad state of affairs.”
Aliotti on his defensive game plan: “We played a lot more nickel and we didn’t want them to run the ball as well as they did, but I’ll let them have all those yards as long as we have that one more point.”
photos by Kevin Cline
In five years, the previous decade of Oregon football may end up being remembered as two separate eras: before and after the Arizona game of 2013.
Some would say that opening sentence is nonsense, arguing that the latter era began once Mark Helfrich became the head coach. I would respond by suggesting that for this first time this year, the Oregon football team truly belonged to Mark Helfrich. After a great start to a season that had Duck fans and players alike dreaming of a national championship, the Stanford loss hurt. But it was understandable. After all, Stanford is a great team who just last year, against a Chip Kelly coached Oregon team, beat the Ducks in equally devastating fashion.
Last week’s loss to Arizona, however, was different. It was worse than any loss under Kelly. For the first time this year, people wondered aloud whether Helfrich was the right guy for the job. For better or worse, Kelly’s name had been removed from the program’s performance and future outlook. The Mark Helfrich era officially began on Friday night. It might not have been the start that Duck fans were hoping for, but it was significant nonetheless.
The game started in ideal fashion for Oregon. After an Ifo Ekpre-Olomu interception in the endzone to end Oregon State’s opening drive, Oregon marched down the field and scored an easy touchdown. Thomas Tyner rushed for 53 yards and DeAnthony Thomas punched it in for six.
On the next Beavers possession, it looked like Oregon would run away with the game. The Ducks’ recently-maligned defensive line looked dominant and forced a punt. Oregon effortlessly marched down the field, scoring a touchdown on a 13-yard Thomas Tyner run.
At 14-0, it looked like things would get out of hand quickly. Unfortunately for the Ducks, that’s not how things played out. After another defensive stop, Bralon Addison muffed a punt, and the Beavers recovered, giving their offense great field position. The defense came up big yet again, forcing a field goal attempt, but a Dior Mathis running-into-the-kicker penalty negated the ensuing miss. The Beavers took advantage, scoring a crucial touchdown to keep the game within reach.
Oregon marched right back down the field, but all-too-familiar red-zone struggles kept the ball out of the end-zone as Helfrich opted to kick a field goal on 4th-and-goal from the two yard line. The Beavers answered with a field goal of their own, bringing the score to 17-10.
On the next possession, a Mariota interception in Oregon territory gave the Beavers a chance to take control of the game, and they almost did. An odd play that initially looked like an OSU touchdown pass was ultimately ruled a fumble and touchback after review, giving the Ducks a break they desperately needed. With plenty of time on the clock before the half, Oregon attempted to march down the field, but another Mariota interception gave the Beavers the ball near Oregon’s 30-yard-line for the second time in as many drives. They took full advantage this time, scoring a touchdown and bringing the game to a 17-17 tie heading into the half.
The momentum Oregon State had at the end of the 2nd quarter carried over into the third. After an Oregon turnover on downs to start the half, the Beavers, starting a drive in Oregon territory for the 4th time, converted a long field goal to take a 20-17 lead.
The Ducks answered with a deep Mariota touchdown pass to Josh Huff. Oregon State marched down the field again, but was ultimately stopped on 4th-and-1 from Oregon’s 4-yard line. Oregon failed to take control of the game and gave the ball back to the Beavers, who put three more points on the board behind a 3rd Trevor Romaine field goal.
At 24-23, a De’Anthony Thomas kickoff return and two nice runs had the Duck’s offense humming. However, Mariota missed a wide open Pharaoh Brown for a would-be touchdown, and Wogan ended up yanking a FG attempt to the left to end the drive. Oregon State answered decisively with a methodical touchdown drive. A failed two-point conversion put the Beavers ahead 29-24 with 11:00 left in the 4th quarter.
Oregon answered with a touchdown drive of their own thanks to a gutsy performance by Josh Huff, who caught his 2nd touchdown of the game on a critical 4th-and-11 throw from Mariota. A failed two-point conversion kept Oregon State within one, 30-29.
The teams then traded poor drives before Oregon State went down the field with ease, scoring on a beautiful end-around touchdown run with a minute in a half to go in the game. Oregon took over from their own 17 down 35-30. Their final drive of the game isn’t one that’ll be soon forgotten.
In a palpably high-pressure situation, Oregon’s stars shone bright. Mariota, in what he called “the best drive of [his] career,” made beautiful throws to Daryle Hawkins and Bralon Addison to start the drive, putting Oregon in position to score.
The pressure was so heavy that it felt like all oxygen had been sucked from the stadium. Finally, on 3rd down from the 20-yard line, Mariota threw it up in Josh Huff’s direction, in what he would later call “a really bad pass.” Huff leaped into the air, reached behind him and clutching the ball with 10 white knuckles, brought down the game-winning touchdown.
Oxygen descended back down into Autzen as it erupted with joy.
With 23 seconds on the clock, Oregon kept the Beavers at bay, winning 36-35. In a game that was far from perfect, Oregon found a way to get it done. After an embarrassing loss to Arizona last week, the worst since before this era began, it was hard not to wonder if Oregon’s half-decade among the nation’s elite was over.
An one-point victory over a struggling Beavers team doesn’t change the question, but if getting the job done is the Hallmark of the post-Arizona era, Oregon fans have a lot to look forward to.
RANDOM GAME NOTES
Both teams made a lot of costly mistakes. This game could have been very different for either.
You have to feel good for Josh Huff. Say what you want, that guy is a warrior who loves the game. His teammates love him for a reason. On senior night, with the best game of his career and the game-winning touchdown catch; that’s just a great story. He ended up with 9 receptions for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns. What a great performance.
Huff said that on the 4th-and-11 touchdown catch, the route called for him to run a post but he cut it off short because he knew Marcus was in trouble. That was a pretty good decision, eh?
Those with questions about the play-calling probably won’t change their tune after this game. I’ll just leave it at that.
Their were times when this offense was unrecognizable. Luckily, they did just enough.
Coming into the game, Oregon State was ranked 122nd out of 125 FBS teams rushing the ball. Tonight, they looked like Alabama. They ended up with 259 yards rushing (not including sack totals).
I noticed some people questioning whether Mariota was injured because of some of the throws he made; no way. He had a couple throws tonight that were absolutely ridiculous. One that sticks out came in the 3rd quarter when he was rolling to his life and fired a stripe to Daryle Hawkins near the sideline. Incredible throw. He had 5-6 of those. Say what you want to make yourself think he’ll stay another year, but Mariota will be a top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL draft if he chooses to leave. I would bet my house on that.
The decision to go for it on 4th-and-11 shouldn’t be overlooked. Many coaches would’ve attempted a field goal there. Helfrich absolutely made the right call, and I said as much before the success of the play. It wouldn’t have been right to put that kind of pressure on Wogan, particularly after the previous miss and the way the Beavers were moving the ball.
Thomas Tyner had 83 yards and a touchdown in the 1st quarter. He had a couple of runs that really showed how special he could end up being. The 3rd-and-13 first down run in particular looked like he was shot out of a cannon. Given how much Byron Marshall improved between years one and two, it’s exciting to think about what Tyner will look like next season. He had 83 yards and touchdown in the first quarter alone.
Finally, a note about the Oregon faithful. The crowd went absolutely bananas after the Josh Huff touchdown. It was so nice to hear Autzen erupt like that. For as excruciating as this game was to watch at times, it was almost worth it because of that reaction. Everyone was jumping and/or dancing around for at least two minutes. Awesome atmosphere. Autzen hasn’t lost it folks; the Ducks just haven’t played many close games recently.
The EDN sports team makes their picks for the final week of the Pac-12 season.
Season Pick’em Standings:
Isaac Rosenthal: 62-17
Corey Buchanan: 61-18
Ryan Beltram: 59-20
The second most heated rivalry game in the Northwest should be relatively interesting this year. Both teams moved the ball up and down the field with ease last week against their opponent. But while Washington State QB Conor Halliday threw for nearly 500 yards,the Huskies had their second greatest rushing performance in team history, wracking up an eye popping 530 yards and 7 TD’s.
If WSU wants to tie its longest winning streak in the Apple Cup since 1982(2 games), they will have to force turnovers. This is because I don’t see the 77th ranked rush defense stopping Bishop Sankey and the Huskies explosive rush attack. But it’s going to be tough as they rank 101 in the nation in turnover margin. The Huskies rank a modest 39th in the nation.
Corey: Washington Isaac: Washington Ryan: Washington
Oregon State(6-5,4-4) vs. Oregon(9-2, 6-2) 4 p.m., Fox Sports 1
The 117th Civil War may not have the hype as some of the last few, but it could be an interesting matchup between two teams coming off of embarrassingly atrocious losses. Not only did OSU play ole defense against the Huskies, but Sean Mannion continued to play below his high early season level. Mannion threw three picks and completed less than 50% of his passes during the drubbing.
X-factor: Motivation If both team’s are motivated mostly by awards, accolades and positioning than this games should be uninspired. However, if they are motivated by self and team pride, than we should have a physical and well played game for our viewing pleasure. From the hokey name to the its relative meaninglessness, this game feels oddly like a bowl game. And like most bowl games, whichever team plays more inspired football has a great chance at getting the win….even the Beavers.
Corey: Oregon Isaac: Oregon Ryan: Oregon
Colorado(4-7,1-7) vs. Utah(4-7,1-7), 11 a.m., Pac-12 Network
Hats off to the dedicated college football fans outside of Colorado and Utah who sit down for this one. This game should be hard on the eyes and the sleep schedule.Throughout the season Utah has been proclaimed underrated. But after last week’s loss to Wazzu, they may be so underrated they’re overrated. The Buffaloes have oddly not played in a close game this year. I think that will change this week.
X-factor: Sacks and Interceptions
Everyone who has watched Utah knows it can rush the passer. The team is second in the nation with 36 sacks on the year. But oppositely, the Utes are second to last in the nation in interceptions, only catching two this year. The Buffaloes have 20 less sacks and 7 more interceptions than the Utes. The winner will have the most points in a completely arbitrary made-up game where sacks are worth one point and interceptions are worth two.
Corey: Utah Isaac: Colorado Ryan: Utah
No. 25 Notre Dame(8-3) vs. No. 8 Stanford(9-2,7-2), 4 p.m., FOX
Notre Dame and the seemingly Van Wilder-esque Tommy Reese are not talked about as much as most Notre Dame squads. Though not great at anything, this team is one of the more balanced in the nation and they have solid wins over Arizona State, USC and Michigan State. Stanford is sitting pretty headed to an inevitable Pac-12 title game after it steamrolled California behind WR Ty Montgomery’s five touchdown performance.
Both teams success hinge’s on their starting quarterback’s ability to control the offense, make a few big plays and not turn the ball over. In the Fighting Irish’s three losses, Rees has 7 interceptions. In Stanford’s two losses, Hogan is averaging 186.5 ypg and 1.5 turnovers. The team with the struggling QB will be hard pressed to win this game.
Corey: Notre Dame Isaac: Stanford Ryan: Stanford
No. 22 UCLA(8-3,5-3) vs. No. 23 USC(9-3,6-2), 5 p.m., ABC
This game doesn’t have nearly as must luster as if UCLA had comeback against Arizona State, but it is still a rivalry game between ranked teams. Plus, UCLA WR Shaq Evans will finally have the chance to back up his declaration that UCLA would embarrass the Trojans.
X-factor: Anthony Barr vs. USC Defensive line
UCLA LB Anthony Barr may be the first name called by Roger Goodell in the NFL Draft for his ability to rush the passer, but USC is the team with the collectively superior pass rush. The Trojans have compiled 10 more sacks on the season than the Bruins. But if Barr can rock USC QB Cody Kessler’s world like he did Matt Barkley’s last year, UCLA should get the victory.
Corey: UCLA Isaac: USC Ryan: USC
Arizona(7-4,4-4) vs. Arizona State(9-2,7-1), 6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
After demoralizing the Ducks like no other team since 2008, Arizona will face the Pac-12 South champions and inner-state rival Arizona State. But the Wildcats aren’t the only team in this matchup likely brimming with confidence. The Sun Devils dismantled all Pac-12 foes this year besides Stanford and will be hosting the Pac-12 title game against the Cardinal… that is if they win this game.
Ka’Deem Carey is an absolute beast and will punish you whenever he gets the chance. You can’t help but feel bad for the Duck defense, especially the linebackers, who had to tackle the guy 48 times. This week he will face the no. 2 ranked rush defense in the Pac-12. The unit held the most comparative back to Carey, Washington’s Sankey, to only 22 yards on the ground. However, they allowed 250 rushing yards to USC and Wisconsin speedster Melvin Gordon almost broke the 200 yard mark against the Devils. How well ASU can bottle up Carey will determine the outcome of this game.
Corey: Arizona Isaac: Arizona Ryan: Arizona State
Oregon State’s dominant passing attack wasn’t bound to last forever. The nation’s No. 1 passing offense entering the game against USC (6-3, 3-2) couldn’t find its usual rhythm as the Beavers (6-3, 4-2) lose for the second consecutive week.
Sean Mannion, OSU’s star QB watched his Heisman chances fly away as he finished the game 26-of-45 for 277 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
“When you play quarterback, you are the one with the ball in your hands and ultimately the one who makes the decisions on where to go with it,” Mannion said. “I think I just need to see that and throw it away.”
Mannion’s three interceptions were the Beavers’ total turnovers. However, there were plenty of other mistakes including a missed kick on the opening drive of the game that was blocked and set up a home run for the Trojans from Cody Kessler to Marquise Lee.
“That’s too much,” Beavers head coach Mike Riley said in reference to the Beavers’ mistakes. “You’re not going to overcome that.”
Defensively the Beavers held strong, for the most part, but struggled from the get go defending the USC running back tandem of Javorius Allen and Silas Redd. Allen finished the game with 16 carries for 133 yards (8.3 YPC) and three touchdowns. Redd led all carriers with 22 attempts for 140 yards (6.4 YPC).
“Great job of coming into a hostile environment and really never letting it affect us as much as it has in the past,” USC head coach Ed Orgeron said “There was a belief in the locker room, at halftime, during the game.”
The Beavers will need to bounce back fast as their remaining games don’t get any easier. OSU’s next three games will be at Arizona State, home against Washington and then on the road against No. 2 Oregon.
When looking at the final score you’d think that the Oregon State Beavers (5-1, 3-0) had their way with the Washington State Cougars’ (4-3, 2-2) defense, but a close game through three quarters turned ugly late. Tied 24-24 heading into the final 15 minutes of play, a 28-0 fourth quarter propelled the Beavs to their fifth consecutive win.
[gn_quote style=”1″]“Offensively, for two-thirds of the game, we played pretty well,” Washington State head coach Mike Leach said. “For one third of the game, we played about as bad as it’s possible to play.”[/gn_quote]
And Leach wasn’t kidding about that powerful offense to begin. Cougs starting quarterback Connor Halliday went 26-of-49 for 248 yards and a touchdown, but three fourth quarter interceptions put a damper on the strong outing.
As for the Beavers, Sean Mannion‘s 34-of-51 through the air for 493 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, would be the highlight game for most quarterbacks seasons, but it likely doesn’t even crack the top-3 through six games. Great things are simply expected from Mannion and so far he hasn’t disappointed.
After the game the Beavers celebrated the hard-earned victory, but acknowledged the errors and that it’s only one more game. One game that puts them a game away from bowl eligibility.
[gn_quote style=”1″]”We got a number of turnovers, and that eventually makes it really hard for an offensive team to have any continuity,” Beavers head coach Mike Riley said. “That was big, and that was a great win for the Beavers.”[/gn_quote]