Oregon State fell to Colorado 17-13 on Saturday night. The game snapped a 14-game Pac-12 losing streak for the Buffaloes, who had not won a Pac-12 game since 2013. It was a bitterly disappointing ending for the Beavers, who showed renewed energy on the offensive end behind backup QB Nick Mitchell and backup RB Ryan Nall. Despite seven different Beavers falling victim to injuries, the Beavers still out-gained Colorado on offense 401-328. Oregon State now falls to 2-5 (0-4 in Pac-12 play) with five games remaining.
CB Treston Decoud was escorted off the field in the second quarter by ambulance after taking a scary hit. He remained motionless on the field for several minutes. Fortunately, according to the Oregonian's Danny Moran, he has since been released from the hospital and is back with the team.
The Beavers had a chance to turn things around early in the fourth quarter with the score tied 10-10. It was Colorado ball at midfield when QB Sefo Liufau was pressured into throwing an errant pass high and straight into the hands OSU LB Jonathan Willis. Unfortunately, Willis let the ball slip right through his fingers, and Colorado went on to score what would be the game-clinching touchdown. Liufau registered 140 yards and a touchdown, and also provided a team-high 18 carries on the ground for 44 yards and another touchdown.
While Seth Collins got the start, Nick Mitchell ended up playing most of the game, including the entire second half. The coaching staff has seemingly acknowledged Collins' shortcomings as a passing quarterback and scaled his snaps back accordingly.
At the beginning of the game, Collins and Mitchell played at the same time, with Mitchell and Collins both lining up in the backfield. Collins completed a nine-yard pass to Mitchell, above, in the first quarter to set up a Nall touchdown on the goal line. Collins ended with throwing 4/7 for 77 yards and running for 50 yards on nine attempts. Nick Mitchell ended his night with 122 passing yards and one interception. Despite the ugly stats, Mitchell showed potential with a few really nice passes, most notably when he connected with Victor Bolden for a 40-yard pass that led to a field goal for OSU.
Mitchell, above, and the OSU offense had a couple opportunities to take the lead after the missed interception, but the massive amount of injuries proved too difficult to overcome. Mitchell never had more than a second or two to throw, and that was mostly due to the fact that both starting right guard Fred Lauina and starting left tackle Sean Harlow left the game with injuries. The Buffaloes' defensive line was able to breeze through the rickety OSU offensive line and relentlessly pressure Mitchell, who threw an interception with 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter to end the game.
The unquestioned offensive leader for the Beavers tonight was Nall, above. He came up huge on every drive, ripping off big runs, breaking multiple tackles and showing a tremendous amount of power. It was a timely breakout for Nall, who was forced into extra playing time due to three of OSU's running backs going down with injuries tonight. Storm Barrs-Woods and Damien Haskins both left the game after just one carry apiece, and Chris Brown was only able to take five carries before exiting with his own injury. Nall finished with 20 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Despite the absence of starting CB Larry Scott, and then Treston Decoud for most of the game, the Oregon State defense played much better than they had in the previous three games. They came up especially big after OSU punted with two minutes remaining. They forced Colorado to punt after a three-and-out, giving the Beavers the ball back with only 20 seconds drained off the clock. They also did a good job in not giving up any big plays to Colorado, which has been a prominent issue in most of OSU's games this year.
Nelson Spruce had a touchdown catch for Colorado in the second quarter, above, but Oregon State held the Buffs' all-time receiving leader to just 6 catches, for 60 yards.
It's tough to construe many positives from a game where so many Beavers were injured, but there were a few silver linings tonight. Nall gave us a glimpse of his potential, and the defense rallied well after Decoud went down. It also looks like the dual-QB system is here to stay for the time being. The Beavers generated a lot of offense tonight and somewhat-effectively played to each of its young quarterbacks strengths. Hopefully that will translate into more points somewhere down the long, windy road that is the Beavers season thus far.
OSU will be hitting the road next week and will be taking on Utah, one of the most balanced and highly polished teams in the Pac-12. The Beavers never stood a chance against Utah, and with all of the injuries that they were smacked with tonight, I don't even want to think about what might happen now. Especially with the Utes looking to make amends for tonight's 42-24 loss at USC. For or the time being, let us hope that our injured Beavers make it out of the trainers' office without too many slings and crutches. If OSU has any chance at winning another game this season, they'll need everything they've got.
Perhaps bringing Ken Simonton back would help; he looked pretty good re-enacting his Civil War winning sweep (with the OSU women's basketball team blocking this time; Simonton did not know that Ruth Hamblin could do just fine in that role as well) one night after being inducted into the OSU Hall of Fame.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)