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!
The year was 2012. Mike Riley’s Oregon State team was coming off an extremely disappointing 3-9 season and expectations weren’t sky-high for the upcoming season. That certainly didn’t stop Oregon State from opening the season with a bang as they went from unranked to as high as #7 in the nation thanks to a 6-0 start and big wins against ranked teams like Wisconsin & UCLA.
Anyways to rewind a bit, Oregon State was flying high after starting 4-0 for the first time since 2002 and was ranked #10 in the nation. Sean Mannion tore his meniscus in the previous game though and Cody Vaz took center-stage. Vaz for his collegiate-career up to that point had completed 6-of-17 attempts for 38 yards (35.3 percent) and no touchdowns.
Sean Mannion was expected to be out for about a month thanks to a torn meniscus which he had surgery on and BYU was AMPED to get a highly ranked Pac-12 opponent at home in the mountains of Provo, Utah.
As a BYU freshman I had this game circled and was equally pumped to root for the road team. As a proud native of Corvallis, Oregon who was born and raised there and who still has extended family in the area I have always followed their sports teams closely. So while I still root for BYU 99% of the time this was not one of those times!
Like I mentioned earlier this wasn’t a regular run-of-the-mill game for BYU. It was a blackout game and BYU was wearing black uniforms for the first time in decades. It was a big deal and despite the cloudy skies, the 64,000 capacity stadium was filled to the brim!
BYU fans were feeling confident facing an untested QB in Cody Vaz. They were looking forward to beating a top-ten team to propel them to a special season. The Cougars defense was rated 5th in the nation at the time, so they had every reason to feel confident. Cody Vaz and the Beavers had other plans though.
Cody Vaz carved BYU up that Saturday leading to a 42-24 win for Oregon State. Vaz ending with 332 yards and three touchdowns. Including 173 yards for Brandin Cooks and two touchdowns thrown to Markus Wheaton.
While Oregon State never trailed, BYU did tie it up at 21 and it really was a great game. With about six minutes left in the game and the Beavers in the redzone Mike Riley called a double-reverse. Vaz faked it to Storm Woods, handed it off to Brandin Cooks on the fly-sweep and Cooks then pitched it out to Markus Wheaton going the other way. A double-reverse takes some time to develop and the defensive-end was closing in on Wheaton fast. The play looked like a potential disaster, but Cody Vaz stepped in throwing a block on the defensive end and sprung Wheaton into open-field for the eventual touchdown. It was awesome and I remember reading after the game about how much goodwill Cody Vaz earned from his teammates with that block.
The play of the game though in my eyes happened on the defensive end during the next possession. Oregon State was leading 35-24 with over five minutes remaining and BYU was still very much in the game. They quickly got to the 45-yard line and after an awkward snap Riley Nelson (BYU QB) threw a quick pass to Ross Apo. The pass was slightly under-thrown and Apo went to the ground to try and corral it, but instead just bounced the ball into the air for a glorious Jordan Poyer pick six.
Poyer was in the endzone before BYU knew what hit them. The Beavers took a 42-24 lead and had themselves another comfortable victory to improve to 5-0 on the season. Poyer said after that the game that he got real lucky with that one and that the ball just happened to bounce into his hands.
Adding to the intrigue of this game was the fact that (then) BYU head coach, Bronco Mendenhall actually played for Oregon State back in the day. He was a safety on the 1986 Beaver team that also went into to Provo and left with a victory.
That Saturday in October was a real fun day for me. A colliding of worlds of sorts for my sports fandom and the Beavers came out on top. The beginning of that 2012 season was really fun. Vaz filled in admirably, but I would have loved to have a healthy Sean Mannion for that entire season with Cooks and Wheaton out there running routes. I legitimately was thinking about Oregon State playing for a national championship when they were 6-0, it was wild!