OSU vs. UW: A turning point

THERE IS A moment, a turning point years back, that is indelibly etched into the history of the Oregon State football program. And it relates directly to the Beavs' opponent this week, the Washington Huskies.

It was November 10, 2001, and Oregon State was in a tailspin. The preseason's high hopes were dashed in the season opener at Fresno State, when the Beavers had been shell shocked by the David Carr-led Bulldogs.

And it only got worse, the Beavers stumbling to a 4-5 record.

On that November day back in ‘01, the No. 8 Huskies (7-1) had come to Corvallis full of confidence, riding a 13 game win streak against the Beavers.

UW had been the Beavers' lone loss the year previous during the halcyon 2000 Fiesta Bowl season – all that separated OSU from perfection. And their purple-clad fans arrived in droves that day, their arrogance thick, sporting t-shirts that read: ‘Beavers: Back To The Basement.'

But then, it happened. A snap, a decisive move beyond the crossroads. A moment when the Oregon State team program rose up and said no, they would not be returning to the basement, rather, they would follow the words of poet Dylan Thomas, and rage against the dying of the light. And did they ever.


Beaver QB Jonathan Smith shredded the UW and Steven Jackson truly burst onto the scene that day, the Beavs' true freshman running back provided a much-needed tough yards spark to the ground attack. The Beavers exploded for 21 second quarter points, punctuated by a 74 yard interception return by BeavGreat cornerback Dennis Weathersby.

The Beaver defense blanked the Huskies in the second quarter, putting their own indelible stamp on the game and holding UW to 88 rushing yards, and just 14 in the second half.

Oregon State 49, Washington 24.

And the Beavs began a new chapter – the one where Oregon State would now dominate Washington. As for the Dawgs, they left Corvallis confused and with their tails between their legs, the recipients of a stunning out-and-out drubbing. "Who were those guys in white? Where were the fail-safe elements of Washington football that have stood the Huskies in such stead the past two years?" wrote the Seattle Times after the UW loss.

Some say the Huskies have still have not recovered from that '01 loss to the Beavs, they finished the season by losing two of their final three and falling out of the final AP Top 25 poll. The next year UW slid to 7-5 – and incredibly, Washington hasn't had a winning season since.

Meanwhile, Oregon State has gone on to win seven of the last eight against Washington and have not lost to the Huskies since 2003. They're looking to extend that streak with the contest this weekend but this time, the game is in Seattle.

And the Beavs are almost certainly going to get the Huskies' best shot because on paper, with the toughest three games on their schedule yet to come, if the UW (2-3, 1-1) wants to go to a bowl game, they have to beat Oregon State. No ifs, ands or buts.

As for the Beavs, they're determined to continue authoring the current chapter, rather than starting a new one.

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