Harry Husky and Benny Beaver renew old acquaintances and disagreements today at Reser. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Washington (6-4, 4-3) visits Oregon St. (2-8, 2-5) for the final home game of the 2011 season for the Beavers. Much has changed since the teams squared off in a double overtime classic midway last season, a game the Huskies pulled out by a 35-34 score when a gamble on a two point conversion Oregon St. head coach Mike Riley would later label as the mistake he most would like to do over failed.
Since that night on Montlake, the Beavers have lost 12 more games, and 9 of those losses have been by double digit margins. The Huskies proceeded to suffer a 3 game losing streak, but then ran off 6 straight wins, including a victory in the Holiday Bowl, and another 3 game winning streak. There have been no winning streaks since then for Oregon St., who is now on a 3 game losing streak, by a combined 61 points. But the Huskies limp into Reser having lost consecutive games, and 3 of their last 4, by 44, 17, and 23 points. Someone will feel better by evening. And someone won't.
It's Senior Day, as well as Dad's Day, and the last home game for James Rodgers, who is closing in on Mike Hass' all-time Oregon St. reception record of 220. 3 catches makes Rodgers the most prolific receiver in Beaver history.Andy's analysis:
I haven't seen a Washington game that has created less buzz in the valley in a long, long time, not just through the recent down years for the Huskies, but even back to the tail end of the Beavers' dark era. If the mounting number of poor to terrible performances haven't delivered a message to the staff and administration, that should have.
I expect attendance will still be good, because it is senior day and Dad's day, it will provide a "Montana moment" (more on that below), and it is still the easiest road trip for Washington. Also, most of the tickets were sold back before anyone knew they were being sold a bill of goods on the product put on the field. And a good turnout on a cold day may even delude the administration. But a truly valid measure of the tv viewership would be very interesting.
It may well be the last appearance at Reser for more than just the seniors. We'll learn more about that in the weeks to come, but Beaver fans can count on some roster changes. Whether they can count on staff changes remains a major question.
The season has been a disaster, and even if miracles happen, which seems highly unlikely in light of the pattern established in recent weeks, they will have come too late. Major changes are needed, so its going to be hard to even project what any positives that come out of the last 2 games might mean going forward, until we learn what changes will be implemented.
If Oregon St. is to have a chance this week, they will have to handle Chris Polk. With Keith Price banged up, and a Nick Montana appearance as the starter a certainty, the Beavers will get an even bigger dose of Polk. LB Reuben Robinson is out with a concussion, which significantly hurts Oregon St. at linebacker, especially if Kevin Unga still isn't close to 100 %, and that's the last thing the Beavers need faced with needing to stop Polk.
The last 3 weeks, opposing running backs have been having career highlight reel afternoons, and now the Beavers face Polk, and next week, La Michael James. Both are on a whole different level than the backs that have trampled them lately. Watch and appreciate.
But Beaver fans still have an opportunity to enjoy not only one more afternoon of the best social spectacle in American sports, but to appreciate one last time the seniors, both on the football team and in the band. A few of these seniors have been amongst the best ever to wear the black and orange. And we may even see some history, if Rodgers can snag 3 catches.
In victory and defeat, watching both the Rodgers brothers has been a special privilege. James has set standards, both statistically and in intangible ways, that will serve all of Beaver Nation well for years to come.
Somehow, I suspect Joe Halahuni will be a part of Orange and Black lore, and a good one, for a long time too.
I'm going to enjoy the whole day, and especially these two, no matter how the game plays out.
Washington is another poor matchup for the Beavers, although most matchups certainly seem to be poor as of late. The Huskies feature a terrific running back in Chris Polk, and are going to start freshman Nick Montana in the place of an injured Keith Price.
BB12's Keys to the Game:
1. Stop the run. Same thought, another week. Chris Polk is a very good running back; he has already rushed for over 1000 yards, and averages 5.2 yards per carry. It seems to be another matchup of weakness versus strength. It is going to take a ridiculous effort to stop Polk, the Beavs have it in them as they showed (for a while) versus Stanford, but it is going to be tough.
2. Have a competent offense. The Beaver offense has been downright terrible as of late, the running game is non-existent and some mistakes erased gains from the passing game. The lack of running game really makes it impossible to score touchdowns in the red zone. When there is less space to work with, then the defense can really just key in on the pass. There needs to be at least 100 yards rushing for OSU to even have a shot.
3. Use emotions. This is senior week, the Beavs need to play for those seniors, and play out of their minds. Don't miss a tackle, fly to the ball, don't miss assignments, and play with a fire. The Beavs need all the effort they can to beat a pretty good Washington team.
I wish I could be as optimistic as I have been the last few weeks, but it is obvious at this point that the OSU offense is in real trouble. The defense might play well for awhile, but they won't be able to hold back the Huskies forever.
Washington 31 - Oregon State 10
It was over two months ago and I was at Reser Stadium watching the Beavs go from flat to exciting and on the verge of a comeback to finally losing to Sacramento State in OT. I remember the heat and the sun. I remember the strange QB situation and how our perceived starter for the year played what ended up looking like a backseat role to the guy I really had not heard anything about. I remember the new running back run for over 200 yards and make us almost forget about Quizz. And I remember the Hornets go for broke and make their 2 point conversion.
At the time of that game I was disappointed and just a little confused, but I still figured hey this is OSU football. Yes the team wasn't even close to being ready to compete against a peaking Wisconsin team, but I figured get these couple games out of their system and under their belts and they would be ok. Then the injuries started to pile up, the roster seemed to get younger and more inexperienced as they went forward, the veterans did not seem to be fully stepping up, the schemes seemed to continue to be off in execution, and all in all things just seemed to go in circles and nowhere since that first game.
Sure we have a nice win over Arizona in which the team got well in front of the deal and then finished in the face of a furious Foles rally. And yes we have the dominating redemption win over Washington State.
But really where are we now? It is senior day and how should I be feeling about it all?
Honestly I guess I am just at the stage where I have no other recourse but "winning is not everything." I mean this both in a good and in a bad way. The bad way first, and there just really isn't that much left in my excitement tank for this football season. I'll watch and I'll get into the game for sure, but my expectations are way down. But on the good side of things I do think there are things this team can build on. First of all is getting this offense to gel more and break in even more our QB. I've said this before but if Mannion is the future QB of this program it is important that over the next two games the team and coaching staff help him get his game legs and mindset in place. I'm also a bit concerned by the lack of a running game and feel the same way about establishing confidence and swagger for Agnew.
So specifically what are my expectations for this match up against Washington? Well first of all it is THE winnable game out of these last two games this season that is for sure. I think the Beavs are catching the Huskies at not a bad time overall. Does this mean the Beavs are the favorites here in my mind? No, I favor the Huskies because of their offensive match up with the Beavs defense. But it is still a game that could be won if the team can align itself properly for its last home game of a long season.
It has been a long road since I was sitting at Reser watching the Hornets celebrate on our field. Maybe just maybe, in the comfort of my living room, I can see the Beavs do some celebrating of their own this Saturday. It might not be the most popular view here I know, but I think they do deserve to have some sort of opportunity to celebrate, if at the least as a purging of a disappointing and confusing season.
BTD will be at the game, and back later with full coverage and analysis.