It was a “coulda, shoulda, woulda” been type of night for Oregon State.
Playing with a re-energized sense of purpose in the second game under interim head coach Cory Hall, the Beavers spent the better part of four quarters looking like the squad that was ready to derail Stanford’s hopes of making a Pac-12 Championship game. However, with help from a late fumble from the usually steady Ryan Nall, Stanford (6-2) found a way to barely hang on in Corvallis on Thursday night, just squeaking by Oregon State (1-7) for a 15-14 victory.
The Cardinal, whose main story-line heading into the contest was the last-minute scratch of running back and Heisman candidate Bryce Love due to injury, looked like the sloppier of the teams all evening, consistent leaving the door ajar for Oregon State to split the game open. Yet, it was the Beavers own missed opportunities that would come back to haunt them, as Nall’s late miscue allowed Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst to connect with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for a go-ahead score with just 20 seconds left in the contest.
Somehow, the team who had no business being in the game from the get-go became the team so heartbroken by a hard-fought loss.
"Yes, you could say Bryce Love wasn't there, but like I've been telling people, one player does not make a team,” Oregon State interim head coach Cory Hall added after the contest. "Beaver football is changing. This is evidence of it."
The defeat will be a bitter “what-if” moment for the Beavers going forward but the sheer excitement surrounding the program was still tangible, even in the loss. If nothing else, it seems that the players have rallied together under Hall who still see’s value in his team giving it their all for the rest of the season.
"The season's not a wash because any time you're able to line up, put a helmet on and compete, that's always a blessing...that being said I'm proud of our players."
For Oregon State, the Beavers must now refocus and try to prepare for next Saturday’s road trip to California (4-4). The Golden Bears are a team who stunned a top-ten Washington State squad just two weeks ago, but most recently coming off a tightly-contested 45-44, double-overtime defeat at the hands of Arizona.
California will also play this weekend (October 28th) on the road at Colorado.
As for Stanford, the Cardinal will head north to Pullman on next Saturday (November 4th) to grapple with an unpredictable Washington State outfit, with the status of Bryce Love injury still unknown. At the moment, Stanford sits atop the Pac-12 North standings with a 5-1 record against the conference.