Oregon State had been getting used to the trend of using bowl games as a nice trip to finish off their seasons, send off their seniors, and reward fans and boosters. They've also made a habit of winning such games, which may be part of the reason that Beaver Nation is reeling from last night's 44-20 loss to BYU.
It had been seven years since the Beavers lost a bowl game. Their last five bowl game tries, Oregon State has ended it's season on a high.
But here we are today, with sour tastes in our mouthes, after the Beavers went from Rose Bowl-hopeful to Las Vegas Bowl laughingstock.
Some links for you to sift through on this foggy, calm-winded Wednesday in the Willamette Valley:
Portland media icon Dwight Jaynes weighs in on this one over at his blog:
Unless you spent a lot of money going to Las Vegas, expecting a win, there's not too much to feel bad about off that MAACO Bowl experience. Those games simply don't matter. And the last time BYU smacked a team around like that in the Vegas Bowl it was the Ducks and Oregon came within a whisker of playing for a national title the following season. (. . .)
Move on. And as I keep telling you, unless you're in a BCS bowl - or even the national championship game - it really doesn't matter.
I don't agree with this. Sure, the national audience flipped off the game at some point in the third quarter and will forget about the game by next week at the latest, but this loss does matter. We can't just write off this loss like it never happened-- it did, and it needs to be addressed. No team-- not even USC-- is going to qualify for a BCS game ever year. Mike Riley's "always get better" attitude is what this program is built on, and he even echoed something along those lines as he was interviewed on the sidelines just before kickoff. This program learned a lot from the two losses at the end of the season, and you bet they're going to learn from them and get better. Saying that only BCS games or National Championship games matter cheats the system that Mike Riley has established. Sure, Riley needs to get his team to a Rose Bowl sooner rather than later, but that's not going to happen magically overnight, and Beaver fans aren't going to show up just for that one game. It's going to happen with hard work, and Beaver fans are going to care during the entire ride.
Second guessing: Riley is unquestionably a great coach, and he's got a great staff, but BYU won the coaching battle decisively. The Beavers offensive play calling never seemed in sync, the defense looked on its heels most of the night, while it was curious that Beavers punter Johnny Hekker never was told that he should use a rugby-style kick because any boot into their air would practically go backwards because of the wind.
I agree with all of this, but would like to make further comment on the punting aspect, in which the Beavers were obviously unprepared. I doubt that the "rugby-style" punt that Miller and the ESPN crew last night on the telecast were calling for was even in the playbook, but it's something that could have been added in-game. But, with BYU bringing the house on punts and not even putting a return man back, it seems as if Hekker simply didn't have enough space to punt the ball low. He was a hero in last year's 3-0 Sun Bowl win... things just didn't go his way this year.
From Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review Journal, we get some generic Canfield/Riley quotes:
"Offensively, that was our worst game," Canfield said. "We were just not in rhythm."
Oregon State ended the season with two gut-wrenching defeats. The first, a 37-33 loss at Oregon, kept them from reaching the Rose Bowl. And then this one.
"They just executed better than we did tonight," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "We knew going in their balance was very good. They just showed that in every part of the game tonight. That's how they basically won it."
Why weren't the Beavers in rhythm? That's the question that will never be answered, and that's where all the excues come into play:
Gary Horowitz of the Statesman-Journal adds:
Then again, you never know how a team is going to play in a bowl game. The 16th-ranked Beavers were coming off a loss to Oregon in the Civil War that dashed their Rose Bowl dreams for a second year in a row, and the sting of that defeat might have been a factor against No. 15 BYU.
But I don't think the loss to BYU can be attributed to a lack of motivation. Coach Mike Riley always has the Beavers ready to play, and that's why they've been able to put together good seasons after slow starts.
The Cougars seemed more prepared to deal with difficult conditions, which included wind gusts approaching 50 miles per hour and temperatures that dipped near 30 degrees. Give BYU credit. After all, it's a team that won 11 games this season.
Nobody on this team is going to make excuses, but we may never know what went wrong to cause the horrible performance we witnesses on Tuesday night.
If you have commentary of your own or more links to share, do so in the comment thread.
--Jake | (firstname.lastname@example.org)