Oregon State visited Pasadena for a Rose Bowl fitting. They didn't need alterations or tailoring. The cuffs and collars matched, the shoulders were broad enough, and the shoes took a high shine from the butt-kicking they laid down.
No one mistakes a Pac-12 defense for an SEC squad, but watching the Beavers chase the undefeated Bruins around was enough to give pause.
All Oregon State did was build a dam in Southern California to block the dreams of a resurgent UCLA in their own backyard. With the first coach of the post-Neuheisel era as head witness, you have to wonder how their post-game pep talk sounded.
"Guys, you just got beat by Oregon State. You 'Coug-ed it' in front of the home fans. Where do we go from here? We've still got a season to play, if that's what you want to call it. We can grow from Pac-8 to Pac-10 to Pac-12 or Pac-16 but you still have to beat downer teams that went 3-9 the year before. Team on three: One. Two. Three."
You have to wonder if he reminded the team they played Division I football the way Dan Hawkins reminded Colorado before he left that program. The resurgence will have to wait another week.
You don't have to wonder about Coach Mike Riley, though. He's been up and down enough to find his level place. No one looked more relaxed on the sidelines, any sidelines. While a big time football power like Oklahoma has Coach Stoops running onto the field more often than Joe Theismann used to run for the men's room, Oregon State has a picture of calm, the anti-Stoops.
Coach Riley had plenty to be nervous about. A trip to SoCal always brings a twist. This time it was Jonathan Franklin, the UCLA running back and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week the first two games. Not only was he the nation's top rusher, he's also making plans to run for mayor of LA one day, then governor. How cool is that? Maybe he knows Kevin Johnson, former NBA point guard and current Mayor of Sacramento. Maybe he knows Ahnold.
No one wants to crush a kid's dreams. Since he was the nation's leading rusher, no one crushed him enough. But the Beavers did, and they did it with gusto.
You expect gusto from a team facing an opponent wearing what looked like Detroit Lions throw-back jerseys. For added gusto it helped to see UCLA playing the sort of football made famous by the Matt Millen led Lions.
A Beaver trip to Southern California means more than pounding the Bruins. It's also a chance for the broadcast crew to shoot a few ocean scenes. Even though the Pacific is twenty five miles away from the Rose Bowl action, video shots made it look like the beach started where the parking lot ends.
The whole world knows about SoCal beach culture from Hollywood and lingering images before station breaks. There's the pier and the blue waves breaking under foaming, white, crests. You can almost feel the warm breeze from El Segundo.
If a cameraman hangs on the image long enough, you start seeing hazy reruns of Baywatch and tapping to Beach Boys' harmony in your head. If they lowered the camera angle you'd see experienced beach citizens breaking out their gas rag to wipe tar balls off their feet. They stick to you after walking the beach. You don't want that in the car.
The Oregon State defense was the tar ball on UCLA Saturday and they left a stain. After one dominating series after another, the announcer even nominated Beaver defensive coordinator Mark Banker for the Frank Broyles Award. That's as SEC as it gets. Let's put him on the 'watch list' since it's so early in the season.
After their win, the Beavers packed a few extras on their way back to Corvallis.
- Keith Kostol was named Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week. The former Tigard Tiger kicked seven times. None were returned.
- While Mike Riley dismantled UCLA, the win also tied him with Lon Stiner, the coach from 1933 to ’48, for most wins in OSU history.
- The unexpected treat after the game was seeing Beaver Athletic Director Bob De Carolis on the field with the team. He walked out of the Rose Bowl a winner and sports fans everywhere should wish him many, many, more.