This week at BTD, some of our writers are going over their favorite in person memories regarding OSU athletics. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments below! We start off the series with a probable favorite of many fans — Giant Killers Pt. 2.
It was a beautiful late-September Thursday afternoon in Corvallis. The sun was setting on the horizon, which prompted ESPN’s Chris Fowler to correctly described it as “orange” out moments before kickoff. Oregon State was set to host a rare primetime nationally televised game against the #1 team in the country, the vaunted USC Trojans.
To set up just how insane this game was, we have to go over where both of these teams were heading into this matchup. OSU had gotten off to a rocky start to say the least — they let a week one conference game on the road slip away late against Stanford and proceeded to get hammered on the road by Penn State 45-14. They bounced back with a cupcake win against a struggling Hawaii program 45-7, then had a week and a half to prepare for what everyone knew would be the #1 team in the land, to come to Reser.
USC on the other hand, couldn’t have been hotter coming into the game. Coming off an 11-2 2007 campaign, the Trojans started off 2008 with a 52-7 whooping of Virginia on the road, then beat down the #5 team in the country, Ohio State in LA, 35-3. USC also had a week and a half to prepare for the Thursday night battle in Corvallis.
So here you have it, a somewhat struggling Oregon State team, going up against what everyone thought was the best team in college football. What ensued was probably the most dominant half of football I’ve ever seen from an OSU football team. I don’t need to go into complete details, because any Oregon State fan who is reading this story has probably gone back to watch this game multiple times (like I have). But after Lyle Moevao’s pass somehow slipped out of Kevin Thomas’ hands and into James Rodgers’ arms to give OSU a 21-0 lead going into the half, I turned to my step dad (who I went to most OSU games with) and said, “We’re gonna do it. We’re gonna beat them again.”
Embarrassingly, I wasn’t at Oregon State’s 2006 upset of these same USC Trojans — I stayed home, thinking I don’t want to waste my day traveling up to Corvallis to watch the Beavs get blown out again. But after OSU pulled one of their other biggest upsets in school history that day, I told myself I’d never miss a home Beaver football game again (and I hadn’t for years after that game).
Going back to 2008, this game had everything. The dominate Oregon State defense, the emergence of “The Quizz Show,” and my personal favorite player growing up, Sammy Stroughter, was starting to look like his old self after taking a year off of football the year before. On this day, it was a completely different Beaver team than we saw just weeks before get destroyed at Penn State. They were dominating both lines of scrimmage, moving the ball on offense and stifling Mark Sanchez and the USC offense on defense — It seemingly came out of nowhere.
But then, in true Oregon State fashion, it’s never easy. USC’s defense stepped up and made it much harder for the Beavers to move the ball, and their offense scored on their first two possessions of the second half to make it 21-14, midway through the 3rd quarter. It felt like, here we go again... Beavs gonna Beav. But they didn’t. While the offense still struggled, the defense turned it back up and it became a punting battle back and fourth throughout the 4th quarter. And then, with USC backed up close to their own goal line, Mark Sanchez takes the snap from under center and overthrows his receiver with a pass that landed right in the hands of Oregon State’s Greg Laybourn, who then proceeded to scramble the ball all the way down to OSU’s two yard line. A Jacquizz Rodgers dive into the endzone one play later would seal it. The Beavs would beat a #1 team in the nation for just the second time in school history 27-21.
I jumped around with joy, hugging my step dad and any other Beaver fan in the vicinity, it was pure bliss... It felt like the good guys won.
Oregon State would go on a tear after this game, winning six of their next eight games and had a chance to go to the Rose Bowl with a civil war win over Oregon... we all know how that ended up. They finished 9-4 with a 3-0 Sun Bowl victory over Pittsburgh in what has been called the worst bowl ever played. USC on the other hand, would prove that the upset in Corvallis that night, truly was an upset. They went on to roll through the rest of their schedule, hardly been challenged by anyone. They ended up coasting to a Rose Bowl victory 38-24 against... you guessed it, the Penn State team who rolled Oregon State earlier in the season.
This game just shows, anyone can beat anyone in college football, that’s what makes it great. While there have been many incredible games and performances by the Beavers over the years, this will always be remembered as one of my favorite moments as an Oregon State fan.