As we get closer to the 2022 season-opener vs Boise State, the Beavers 6 consecutive season opening losses (dating back to 2015) has taken center stage. Jonathan Smith was asked about it in his Week One Press Conference and he responded saying “Opener’s are important, every game is important... What’s taken place in the past has no effect on this one... But we want to win the opener without question.” Smith downplayed the question, but it’s obvious there’s an increased level of anticipation and expectation this year. And Jonathan Smith made it crystal clear “We want to win the opener without question.”
So how did Oregon State get to this point? The Beavers last season opening win was a 26-7 win over Weber State in 2015. Back when Seth Collins was leading the Beavers in rushing & passing... Let’s take a quick look back at the losses:
The game that started this ill-fated streak. Darell Garretson threw for 3 TDs and Ryan Nall burst onto the scene leading the team in rushing & receiving. Oregon State looked like they would win this one until Minnesota scored 13 unanswered points in the 4th quarter.
Jake Luton threw for over 300 yards and Ryan Nall rushed for 115 yards (on only 15 carries). It seemed like it was going to be a nail-biter as it was tight at the half (20-24), but the Beavers lost steam and CSU ended the game with three consecutive touchdowns to celebrate their new stadium in blowout victory fashion.
Coming off a one-win season, expectations were insanely low going into Columbus. To make it worse Jake Luton left the game due to injury in the first series. All things considered Jonathan Smith proved he could coach the offense, as Artavis Pierce and Trevon Bradford thrived scoring 2 TDs apiece. And Conor Blount looked surprisingly competent at QB despite being a walk-on playing one of the most talented teams in the country. The defense on the other hand offered very little resistance, I’m not sure if the score or 721 yards of offense for Ohio State was more telling.
Chuba Hubbard ran all over Oregon State’s defense, but this was a somewhat encouraging game. The Jake Luton to Isaiah Hodgins connection was evident immediately and that 1-2 punch coupled with Jermar Jefferson’s accession meant the Beavers had a talented offense in the making. Oregon State went on to finish with a 5-7 record, nearly shocking everyone with a bowl game appearance.
As everyone is well aware 2020 was a wild year. The Beavers were supposed to play at Oklahoma State, but Covid limited non-conference games and Oregon State were only able to get 7 games in that season. Jayden de Laura made an impressive debut as a true freshman and Oregon State showed they hadn’t fully fixed their leaky run defense problem.
Sam Noyer struggled mightily in the opener, but it made way for Chance Nolan to shine as the Beaver offense got in rhythm just a little too late. The Beavers finally appeared to fix their run defense and Beaver fans couldn’t help but wonder if the outcome would have been different if Chance Nolan started the contest (or if Tristian Gebbia never needed hamstring surgery).
Looking back none of those games were easy. Most of them were road contests. And while many of them were winnable, Washington State or Colorado State were probably the Beavs best chance to grab a victory. This season Oregon State is at home and is favored. Boise State is a great team though; they’ve got a depth chart stacked with veterans and Oregon State will need an excellent performance in order to end this streak.
But on the bright side even if Boise State takes the opener, Oregon State still has a path to bowl-eligibility and it won’t negatively effect their lofty Pac-12 Championship goals. Just look at Utah last season, they opened the season with losses to BYU/SDSU and still had a fantastic season. Lastly Oregon State opens the season against San Jose State in 2023. The beauty of sports is there’s always next year if your team doesn’t reach their goals.