End of the season for the Oregon State Beaver football program. After an unexpected 9-3 year, the Beavs are off to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl against the Texas Longhorns (8-4). Reflection time over the last 14 years of several appearances by OSU in bowls. Before I get to everyone’s favorite, the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, let’s review them all since 1999 when Beaver football returned to the map.
1999 Oahu Bowl in Hawaii: Hawaii 23, OSU 17. Although the Beavers ended on the wrong side of the outcome, the achievement was being there. This was OSU’s first bowl berth in 35 years with Dennis Erickson as head coach. Many believed Mike Riley laid the ground work for success and Ericson ran with it. A late Ken Simonton touchdown closed the final gap to a Hawaii six point win, but it was the beginning of greater things to come (see below).
2002 Insight Bowl in Phoenix : Pittsburgh 38, OSU 13. Oregon State got worked in the second half of this game. After being tied 10-10 at half, it spiraled downward following the midway point in this one. The Beavs could only muster a third quarter field goal and the Panthers scored on a 66-yard punt return by Shawn Robinson. Two fourth quarter touchdowns by Pitt turned the final score in to a whopper. Erickson coached this OSU team, with his third bowl appearance in four seasons, before leaving for the NFL and Riley returned.
2003 Las Vegas Bowl in Las Vegas: OSU 55, New Mexico 14. This was the first installment of a nice bowl winning streak for Riley and the Beavers. With an overwhelming offense, Oregon State racked up a yardage total of 540. The star was running back Steven Jackson with five touchdowns. After moving ahead 17-7, Beaver nation never looked back as the team stretched the lead to 31-7 at half.
2004 Insight Bowl: OSU 38, Notre Dame 21. In a somewhat rematch of the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, Oregon State again dominated the Fighting Irish. Not the lopsided event of three years earlier, yet still impressive. In one of his better games, Derek Anderson threw for four touchdowns. While the score tightened to 31-21 Beavers, the outcome was hardly in doubt. The win also improved OSU’s season record to 7-5.
2006 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas: OSU 39, Missouri 38. After a 2-3 start to the season, quarterback Matt Moore led the team to a victory in the Sun Bowl to cap a 10-4 season. Most memorable of finishes, running back Yvenson Bernard sneaked over the goal line on the two-point conversion after the final touchdown and the winning margin of 39-38. Rather than force OT, Riley went gutsy and the gamble paid off. While everyone remembers the end, more impressive was Moore bringing back the team from a 14-point 4th quarter deficit. Outside of the Fiesta Notre Dame thrashing, Beaver fans remember this bowl game more than most.
2007 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco: OSU 21, Maryland 14. Having won the previous year in the Sun Bowl in such spectacular fashion, almost any bowl appearance immediately following would feel like a letdown. Facing a 6-5 Terrapins squad from Maryland, the Beavers prevailed in the end. After giving up 14 first quarter points, the defense clamped down holding Maryland scoreless in the final three quarters. It was not quite the intense battle of the year before, but a win none the less.
2008 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas: OSU 3, Pittsburgh 0. Sleeper. Justin Kahut’s 44-yard field goal was the only score in the game. It marked the first time the Panthers had been shutout since 1996. Nothing special about this game other than the victory for Oregon State. However, the Beavs did finish 9-4 on the season and for the third straight year ended in the Top 25 (#24).
2009 Las Vegas Bowl: BYU 44, OSU 20. Other than the windy conditions, and the loss, what comes to mind for me is this was the only game Jacquizz Rodgers ever fumbled in his three year career at OSU. A staggering statistic for a featured back. This also snapped the Beavers five game winning bowl streak.
2001 Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix: OSU 41, Notre Dame 9. Out of order, yet best for last. Officially the game was played in 2001, however, in the record books it was this 2000 team which stands above all others. The Standard by which teams and bowls are compared. Sad but true. The stars were Ken Simonton, Jonathan Smith, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson and defensive standout Darnell Robinson (two sacks, forced fumble and an interception). Oregon State was only up 12-3 at half, but exploded for 29 third quarter points. For those who remember the domination, the score was hardly indicative of how mismatched Notre Dame was that night. Most observers, fans as well as media, believe OSU would have beaten anyone that day. As it turned out, an 11-1 record and final poll slot of #4 shows why this team was and is the benchmark for which all Beaver squads are measured.
2012 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio: Oregon State vs. Texas. Outcome to be determined. The Longhorns finished 8-4 while the Beavers finished 9-3. Texas’ most notable victory came at #18 Texas Tech, 31-22. They lost their last two games, one at the hands of #6 Kansas State, 42-24. And took a pasting at the hands of #13 Oklahoma earlier in the season, at home, 63-21 (ouch). Most of you know OSU’s daggers were at Washington (20-17) and Stanford (27-23). And the big wins came at UCLA (27-20) and BYU (42-24).
I am going to play homer on this one. Real simple. If Oregon State does not turn the ball over, or creates more than it gives away, Beavers win. Drum roll … OSU 34, Texas 17.