In the Beavers' first visit to Boulder in decades, the Beavers played about as well as expected, where they covered some of the lines which had come down to 4.5 points depending on the oddsmaker, despite it starting at 7.5. The game started off heavily in Oregon State's favor though.
Colorado got the ball first and went three and out when they could not convert on a 3rd and 1. Mannion and the Beavers came out and answered with a three and out of their own however, and the Buffaloes started moving downfield on a series of medium length plays before the defense again halted them in a 3rd and 1, and then the ensuing 4th and 1.
From there the big play Beavers came alive. Ward broke a big run, Caleb Smith (who led the Beavers in receiving yards today) had a deep catch and it was finished with one more Ward run. The Beavs came up big again with a DJ Alexander interception of Buffalo quarterback Sefo Liufau. That only took two runs by Storm Woods to punch it in and Oregon State appeared to be the driver's seat up 14-0.
Colorado started to push back though, using a couple big plays of their own before it culminated in a touchdown strike to Tyler McCulloch, which was number one of two TD catches for the game. The Beavers looked like they would keep rolling with Mannion slinging the ball, but a first down incompletion to Hamlett and a couple short gains on 2nd and 3rd down forced OSU into settling for a field goal. Romaine was not only perfect on field goals and extra points, all 8 of his kickoffs went for touchbacks.
Momentum continued to roll towards Colorado, when they came back down the field for another touchdown, and a game that had looked to be under control had started to roll the other way. Another Beaver drive stalled and it resulted in another field goal.
That left 2:54 on the clock for Colorado, who inched their way down the field and into the end zone after several plays where Beaver defenders forgot how to take angles and wrap up. OSU gave up a sack before the half and the Buffaloes went in with the lead, 21-20.
Once both teams came back out on the field things had evened out even further. OSU went a few plays and punted, Colorado came back and started moving before a miscommunication and a Luke Hollingsworth sack to force another punt.
From there the game flowed back to the Beavers, where the offense started to move to more of a dink and dunk attack, with quick passes and the running game going too. Oregon State started moving forward, but hit a speed bump late in the 3rd quarter. Sean Mannion had 2nd and 3 and he lofted up a jump ball for Richard Mullaney, but he was outjumped for the ball by Ken Crawley. The play was called back for pass intereference however, and it was a tight one. He just extended and pushed Mullaney out from the ball, and maybe would have been ignored if not for the pick.
After that the Beavers moved it and eventually got the touchdown with a perfect throw from Mannion to Smith, who tumbled backwards into the end zone. The Buffaloes did not back down then, marching right back for a field goal, which may have been a failure with the Beavers taking the ball in for a touchdown after a 12 play, 85 yard drive over almost 6 minutes bringing the OSU lead to 36-24 after a failed two point conversion.
Liufau still had an answer as Colorado just would not go away. The Beavers played for an onside which did not happen, and they could not get the first down after that. That left the ball at the OSU 14 yard line before the Keith Kostol punt. It was a poor punt as well, only gaining 30 yards, and leaving the door open for the Buffaloes to stampede with the score at 36-31 Beavers.
The first down play was dropped and would not have resulted in points either way. On second down Tony Jones caught the ball in the flat and made a mistake by staying in bounds, forcing Colorado to use their last time-out. Third down was a real doozy, as the pass was on time and on target to top Buffalo target Nelson Spruce, but Steven Nelson lept forward and broke up the ball. There was a bit of contact before the ball arrived, but it seemed like a fine no-call.
After the 4th down played resulted in an incompletion Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre went after the referees, literally chasing them off the field after the game.
Neither team played exceptionally well, but the game may have been tipped in the Beavers' favor when DJ Alexander picked off the ball and returned it to the 8. Both teams were pretty even as the box score will show you, where every stat is virtually even (some literally).
Not too much to talk about with the Beaver offense, except when things went to a quick hitting offense it really seemed to keep Colorado back and it resulted in some of the best drives of the day, the best resulting in this Ward TD run.
Defensively the real success was limiting national leader Nelson Spruce to 6 catches for 35 yards with no touchdowns. The defensive line was weaker without Grimble, but they held up just enough for the win. The tackling was abysmal at some points as well, but that isn't really anything new.
An important second half development came when LB Jabral Johnson, who had left the game with a knee injury, and had to go to the locker room, was able to return. Johnson went on to a game high 11 tackles, 10 solo, also a game high.
One of the strange parts of the game was when Mannion was forced to call a timeout in the second half with the play clock running down. He was actually complaining about the Colorado cheerleaders who were blocking the play clock when they were doing their stunts. Not sure I've ever seen that before.
Not a great performance but the Beaver offense seemed to click in their final touchdown drive and the defense had some decent stops. This performance will not be enough going forward, as the Pac-12 has shown that just about any team can win against any other.
Here are highlights courtesy of the Pac-12 Networks so you can make the decisions for yourself on all the pass interference calls.
In the end, it was a great afternoon to be a Beaver.
Cue the fight song!
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)