Halloween is holiday for orange and black

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Oregon St.'s senior linebacker Keaton Krstick resumes his columns for the Sporting News Today this week, and he talks at some length about the USC game, and the penalty he received for a late hit on USC's freshman QB Matt Barkley.

The USC game was really important for us, and in the end it turned out in their favor. But I think the Beavers played a really good game, and we kind of exposed them a couple of ways. It's kind of ironic that at the end of the game when they knelt down on the ball, they were jumping up in complete excitement as if they were the underdogs.

Kristick's liked the offense, and gives some insight into the pivotal penalty play.

I think we played a really tough game offensively, and defensively, our coaches had a really good game plan. We had some silly penalties that hurt us. I was flagged for roughing the passer when we would have had an interception.

I'm all about taking chances, and obviously this one didn't work out. I wanted to let him know I was coming. We don't let some freshman quarterback run all over us. I figured to get a nice hit on the quarterback would rattle him a little bit, and we'd see a little more of his personality.

I saw the flag, and I obviously was a little sad. That was probably my second flag in college-I usually don't get penalties. And you can only imagine how upsetting it was when your sophomore middle linebacker just got his first interception. It was just like, "Aw man, I'm really sorry about that."

Having played two top five teams, Kristick has had a first hand look at what could be BCS Championship teams.

We've now played both USC and Cincinnati, who are high in the BCS standings. They obviously have different offenses and defensive schemes. But they're very similar in that they have those big-play guys and solid lines both offensively and defensively. That's really where it all starts, with protecting the quarterback or getting pressure on the quarterback.

I wouldn't really know who's better. But we played close games against two really good teams, and we've learned that we can play with anybody. It's just taking that next step, and that's what's most important to us as a program.

Kristick looks in the mirror as well, at how close the Beavers are to that point.

We like to think we're a lot better than our record indicates, and we hate how this happens-it  happens to us every year. What do we have to do to make sure we're 7-0 instead of 4-3? And that's anything from three to four plays really. So how do we learn from it and make sure that doesn't happen again?

Kristick finishes with a look ahead to this week's Halloween Homecoming game against UCLA.

We're looking forward to the UCLA game. It's our homecoming game, and it's on Halloween, which makes it a little neat. We're orange and black; Halloween's orange and black, whatever you want to make of that. It's another opportunity, and we've got to come back and get on the winning side.

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UCLA is good. They have those offensive masterminds. You always have think about a letdown after a game like USC, and you have to weed it out. I think we're going to bounce back and have a really strong week of practice. I think we'll be coming out for this game just as hard as any other game, and that's the exciting thing about it.

- As told to Jim Ryan

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