It's no secret that in order to beat the best teams, you need to play at your best. And the Beavers were playing some of the best football we've seen during this season Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Sean Canfield had one of the best performances of his career. Joe Halahuni had a career day. Despite missing the entire second quarter with a bum ankle, Jacquizz Rodgers mustered enough strength to finish the game with 113 rushing yards. Brother James, playing much of the game on a bum knee, contributed over 100 yards to the team's 482. Damola Adeniji, who wasn't even the go-to receiver at South Eugene High and never thought he'd be able to play football again after his senior season, caught 5 passes in the USC secondary for 81 yards and scored a touchdown.
Trailing by twelve at halftime, the Beavers did exactly what they needed to do at the beginning of the third quarter: got a stop, then scored a touchdown. USC answered, and then the Beavers answered back.
When USC rallied, the Beavers again answered. Alan Bradford's 43 yard touchdown run and Damian Williams' 63 yard punt return for a touchdown put the Trojans up by 19 points.
Astoria native Jordan Poyer returned a kick 70-yards to put Oregon State in position to score five plays later. A Lance Mitchell interception followed by a Canfield-engineered drive cut Oregon State's defecit all the way down to six. But there was only 5:41 left on the clock at that point, and two USC first downs sealed a win for the Trojans.
Mike Riley and the Oregon State coaching staff will look back at that first half and grimace at the Beavers struggles inside the USC 40-yard line. Coach Banker will see his senior leader hit Matt Barkley late, a play that negated an interception. The staff will continue to wonder why Kahut has a better chance of making 40+ yard field goals than 20--yarders.
It's hard to say what the final result would have been if Oregon State's four field goal opportunities were changed to touchdowns and the Beavers led 28-21 at half. But one thing is for certain: Oregon State gave the Trojans a run for their money, and proved that Mike Riley has established a program in Corvallis that is worthy of respect.
The Beavers scored the most points on the Trojans since Vince Young led Texas to a 41-38 win in the 2005 BCS Title Game.
But thirty-six wasn't enough.
(USC perspective over at Conquest Chronicles)