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OSU vs Utah: 51 to 48 oh my, Oregon State wins conference opener!

Oregon State football looked to make it easy for just over a quarter, but then all heck broke out as the Beavers and Utah Utes battled back and forth to draw in regulation. The Beavs finally get a defensive stop in overtime and the offense "gets away with it" as Sean Mannion throws the game winning pass off the fingertips of a Utah defender to Brandin Cooks. In the end OSU comes out of Salt Lake City with a 51 to 48 conference win, but it was not easy.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Beavs in the first half came out strong on both sides of the ball.   Oregon State drove the field nicely on the first drive of the game, but stalled a bit in the redzone leading to a Trevor Romaine 36 yard field goal.  OSU though continued to utilize Richard Mullaney (who had 71 yards on 3 catches in the first half) and scored the next time they had the ball to go up 10 to 0.

The defense was especially strong putting pressure on Utah's QB Travis Wilson for the first few possessions of the game.   Indeed it was not until Utah's first possession of the second quarter they were able to convert a 1st down, and this was on a long 3rd and 10, which seemed to spark the offense well as the Utes scored on the possession to close the gap to 13 to 7 (OSU had scored on another Romaine FG, this time a well struck ball from 49 yards out).

Sean Mannion and the Beavs responded nicely on the following drive.   The offensive line did an excellent job and with some sharp rushes the Beavs controlled the ball and clock well to march down the field and score on a great catch by tight end Connor Hamlett to go up 20 to 7.  Utah though still showed signs of life on offense and took the ball down the field and looked posed to score a TD, but the OSU defense stiffened and held the Utes to only a FG, all of which led to a Beavs 20 to 10 lead going into the halftime.   At the half the Beavs out gained Utah 268 total yards to 153.  Sean Mannion led the pack going 15 for 24 for 219 yards and two touchdowns (with an impressive 9.1 yards per throw).

The second half?  Well it seemed like it was a kitchen sink game plan that included everything but defenses able to stop the other team.   We were handed scrambles for TDs, fourth and inches reverse throw backs to the QB for a 48 yard pass play, stalled redzone drives, key penalties called and not called, and two TD drives with under 5 minutes to play.

Oregon State looked golden coming out of the half with a Sean Martin pick-six of a Wilson pass to put the Beavs up by 17.  But as can be the case the Beavs fell back a bit too loose and allowed Wilson to drive down the field in a 75 yard scoring drive that lasted only 1:17.   This not was a gutsy answer by Utah and their QB it helped fire up the crowd again and shifted the momentum in the Utes favor.   As such OSU's offense could not match that drive and punted the ball back to Utah, and again Wilson marched down the field this time closing the gap to 27 to 24.  Utah then looked to be in full control stopping the OSU offense again.  This time though the Beavs defense actually produced one of their rare stops of the second half with a Steven Nelson interception that led to a Mannion to Cooks 55 yard screenplay TD to put the Beavs back up by 10.

The Beavs looked to be weathering the Utes offensive storm by just enough by matching Utah scores with their own, and highlighting the kitchen sink approach with a 4th and inches play where Mannion pitched the ball to his back who then threw back to Mannion who then connected with Cooks 48 yards down field (there is probably a technical football play name for this but by this time my brain could only handle the general what was happened details).  But the Utes slowly were chipping away at the lead and finally broke through at the 4:25 mark to go up 38 to 37, and then the fun really began (insert your own emoticon of choice here)!   OSU's offense had more than enough time to march the ball down the field (with a key 4th down conversion that included an extra 15 yards tacked on for a Utah penalty) and score on a Cooks 18 yard TD catch.   The Beavs converted the 2-point conversion and looked to be maybe up enough to win the game in regulation.  But it was not to be for Utah answered with their own drive to even up the score and send the game to OT.

In OT a strange thing happened and the Beavs actually held strong on defense and did not allow the Utes a first down and forced a 41 yard FG attempt that sneaked through to put Utah up by three.  OSU then went back to what they do best and that is Mannion throwing the ball and in the end Cooks catching another TD pass.  A pass though that after the game Sean did say along the lines of  "I wish I had a little more air under that one, but I guess we got away with it."  And yes they did, but the offense sure deserved to "get away with it" with another amazing performance.

Of very important note and Storm Woods took a shot to the head in the second half and had to leave the field by ambulance.  He was able to raise his arm so things seemed better than initially looked, but it was a scary moment of the game for sure and just hoping all is well with Woods, and when we here on BtD know more details we will let everyone know.

In the end it is kind of a hard game to analyze, maybe it is the haze over my eyes from my writing this on amped up fumes, but I am not totally sure at the moment what to make of it.  It was a heck of a football game that is for sure, and the second half played out much to our expectations of two very good offenses going at each other.  But on the other hand it showed again a lack of containment and adjustment on OSU's defensive side of the ball (for the most part for hats off in OT to the defense).  The defense looked to have things under control in the first quarter but then the Utes made their own adjustment and played the off-side of the Beavs attack to the Utes constant advantage; and yes this again meant frustration ad nauseam of watching another QB run all around and through the defense.  Again though the offense was overall a thing of beauty to behold, racking up 491 yards offense, 443 of which was in the passing game; including career highs by Sean Mannion (27/44 for 443 yards) and Brandin Cooks (210 yards on 9 catches) and we also saw a wonderful game from sophomore receiver Richard Mullaney (142 yards on 7 catches).

I think for now I will leave it at just this: it was a great football game to watch and in the end a W for the Beavs in a tough environment against a scrappy and tough team, but over the next week there is a lot the OSU team needs to work on (especially on defense) and lots to talk about as a fanbase.