OSU stunned, run over in loss

THERE WAS A play in the early second quarter of Oregon State's game against WSU -- deep in Cougar territory, Markus Wheaton was caught from behind on a reverse. It was still a 5-yard gain. But it could have gone to the house. And after that tackle, the frustration shown by the Beavers even then, at that early stage in the game, was a dark, black harbinger of things to come.

Oregon State lost 31-14 on Saturday, and it wasn't that close.

Except for two lightning quick scores, OSU spent most of the day in a sleepwalking stupor.

Yes, Washington State is improved from the past two years, no question about it. But Oregon State came out and played flat. And that showed up most in the trenches.

The Beaver o-line was pushed around by a Cougar defensive front that hadn't had much of an impact in a game all season.

It was the same if not worse on defense, with the Cougar o-line moving the black and orange pile seemingly at will.

Cougar announcer and former coach Jim Walden once famously remarked after a loss that this team had just gotten "run over by a damned moped." Well, the Beavs on Saturday got run over by a crimson and gray tricycle.

Washington State hadn't been able to run the ball all year – they came in averaging a meager 71 yards a game. The Beavs allowed about triple that to the Cougars.

WSU's bread and butter this season has been through the air. It made them dangerous at times, but it also made them more predictable and less dimensional. But OSU couldn't stop WSU on the ground, so WSU kept on running the ball.

About 61 times.

OREGON STATE SURRENDERED an ungodly 221 yards on the Reser Stadium turf in a game they were favored by 22.5 points. QB Jeff Tuel was threatening the 100 yard rushing mark in the fourth quarter.

And Oregon State, for their part, was held to 97 ground yards on the afternoon.

As Vince Lombardi once said, ‘What the hell is going on around here?'

WHEN A DEFENSE can't get off the field on third down, it's usually ugly. On Saturday, the Cougs held the ball for 40:55. That left Oregon State with 19:05 in time of possession. That's about as ugly as it gets.

Oregon State has some soul searching to do, they need to win two of the last three to be eligible for a bowl game and they'll be prohibitive underdogs against USC, Stanford and Oregon.

A season that looked so promising just a few weeks ago now seems so very close to spiraling down a drain filled with muck. Heck even the early losses – to Top 5 teams in games that went down to the wire, had lent optimism.

Not any longer.

At 4-5, it's now do or die time for Oregon State.

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