That was a fantastic game wasn't it? It lived up to the hype in every way possible. The only way it could have been better was if Oregon had been forced to kick a field goal on that final drive at some point, allowing Oregon State to get the ball back with a chance to tie. I was hoping that would happen, just so this game would go longer - it was that good.
This game also had plenty of enduring images...some thoughts:
- I gained a ton of respect for cornerback Tim Clark of the Beavers last night. He's made some plays and missed some plays in his OSU career, but no one wants to see a player's college career end with an injury - and that was brutal. You know what will stay with me though? After Clark was booted up and placed on the cart to be taken to the locker room, the camera zoomed in on his face. What did I see? It wasn't pain, though it was probably there. What I saw more was disgust and anger, because the injury was taking him off the field and away from his teammates. That's the kind of guy I would want on my side as a player.
- The Beavers absolutely learned how to contain the spread offense. They filled the gaps well for the most part, it was just a couple key plays here and there that turned the tide. It's probably worth pointing out the Beavers actually scored seven times while Oregon scored only six; having to kick field goals can sometimes come back to bite you.
And this is exactly why Mike Riley went for it on 4th and 15 down by four late in the fourth despite being well within field goal range. He said after the game he didn't think he'd get the ball back if they kicked - and ended up being right. At the time Wifey and I both said we would have kicked, but I can't even come close to saying Riley made the wrong decision.
Speaking of good decisions by Riley, going for the TD on fourth down on the opening drive was an awesome, awesome call. This game was for everything they play for, and Riley - and Chip Kelly - left it all on the field.
- How about the evolution of Sean Canfield as quarterback for the Beavers? Early in the season I was less than thrilled with his ability to stand in and throw in the face of pressure. He was always jumpy, throwing the ball away with the slightest amount of pressure. Last night showed just how far Canfield has come as he stood in and made some very good throws. The defensive pressure eventually got to him in the late third quarter, but Canfield earned himself some NFL money last night - which is something I didn't think I'd be saying two months ago.
There are still drawbacks, to be sure. Sports Illustrated's Stuart Mandel tweeted that it was odd many of Canfield's third-down throws ended up being just a yard or two short of the first down. As any Beaver could tell him, he's been doing that all season long.
- Speaking of NFL money, we had a LeGarrette Blount sighting. Raise your hand if you are surprised Blount was finally used in the Civil War? No one? Yeah, me neither. I still honestly think that if it were purely up to Chip Kelly Blount never would have played for Oregon again, but he showed he hasn't lost anything.
- It's always interesting to listening to the national commentators talk about your local teams, teams they don't see on a regular basis. Apparently Jeremiah Masoli has a Z in his name and the Rodgers brothers are interchangeable, despite the fact they wear different numbers. Also not sure how anyone could get LaMichael James and Blount mixed up - as in who was on the field. They are pretty obviously different. Another time they got Oregon receivers Jeff Maehl and Ed Dickson mixed up. That's a little crazy - Maehl is white, Dickson is black.
- The saddest part about all of this? Oregon State goes from the cusp of the Rose Bowl likely all the way down to the Las Vegas Bowl, typically for the league's fourth place team. Ouch. In a situation like this the Holiday Bowl should be required to take the loser of a battle where the winner goes to the Rose Bowl.
In fact, I hate the way the bowls can choose whomever out of tied teams in the standings. There is a tiebreaker process for the Rose Bowl, but not for the others. I'm not a big fan of the no-repeat clauses either, which will keep OSU from the Sun Bowl.
For OSU to have a chance at the Holiday Bowl, Beaver Nation has to hope Arizona beats USC on Saturday to eliminate the Trojans from Holiday eligibility.