The Sports Exchange: OSU Inside Slant

HAS IT REALLY reached this point, that Oregon State can't beat anybody in the Pac-10? In consecutive weeks, Oregon State has lost to UCLA and Washington State, considered to be two of the conference's weakest teams. Oregon State also lost to Washington, another lower-tier Pac-10 team. TSX examines all things Beavs with Southern California coming up next.

The Beavers (4-5, 3-3) lost 31-14 Saturday to Washington State. The Cougars had a 16-game conference losing streak that dated to 2008, and hadn't won a road game since 2007.

The Beavers were held scoreless for the first half, something that hadn't happened to Oregon State in a home game in six years.

"It's like a bad nightmare where you try to run fast and you're running in slow motion with dogs chasing you," Oregon State center Alex Linnenkohl of the Beavers' crumbling season.

The Beavers were simply dominated by the Cougars in virtually every statistical category. It added up to the Cougars having possession of the football for almost 41 minutes, while the Beavers were limited to running 48 offensive plays, their fewest in 17 seasons.

"We've got to get better," Oregon State senior linebacker Keith Pankey said. "We can't play like this anymore. If we do, we're screwed."

To reach .500 for the season and be minimally eligible for a bowl, Oregon State must win two of its final three games, which are against the league's best teams in USC, Stanford and Oregon. It's going to take some doing to even be competitive, based on recent results.

"We've got to dig deep," coach Mike Riley said. "This has got all the challenges you would want in coaching."

--The Beavers finally had their first two lost fumbles of the season, though neither was when Oregon State's offense was on the field. The first was when a low, line-drive kickoff by Washington State went off the leg of one of the Beavers in the front line, and was recovered by the Cougars. The second was when OSU kickoff returner Jordan Poyer fumbled at the end of a return in the final minute.

--Ever so gradually, RB Jacquizz Rodgers keeps moving toward the Pac-10's top 10 in career rushing. With 93 yards against Washington State, the Oregon State junior raised his total to 3,586 yards. He is 12th on the Pac-10 career list after passing WSU's Rueben Mayes (3,519). Next for Rodgers is Steven Jackson, 11th on the Pac-10 list and third in OSU rushing with 3,625 yards.

--Even in a struggling season, Oregon State's attendance remains strong. The Beavers drew 45,389 for their loss to Washington State, which was the sixth-largest crowd ever at Reser Stadium. With Oregon State's two best draws, USC and Oregon, remaining on the schedule, a record for season attendance average is likely.

GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Markus Wheaton -- It's a repeat performance for Wheaton, who had two touchdowns among his six receptions for 97 yards against Washington State, and also had a 5-yard run.

KEEP AN EYE ON: OLB Dwight Roberson -- Roberson continues to put up strong numbers. He was in on 12 tackles against Washington State, including two tackles for lost yardage. He also forced a fumble and recovered another, and his forced fumble was the seventh of his career, which ties for the school record.

LOOKING GOOD: Next category. There simply wasn't an element of Oregon State's game that could come in for praise. That goes for the return game too, as the Beavers suffered their first two fumbles of the season, both on kickoffs by Washington State.

STILL NEEDS WORK: If it's what's up front that counts, Oregon State has issues on both sides. There were five more sacks of Oregon State quarterbacks, and RB Jacquizz Rodgers had to struggle at times to get to the line of scrimmage in rushing for 93 yards, which included three runs of more than 20 yards. The defensive front was run over for 221 yards by Washington State, almost triple what the Cougars had been averaging in rushing offense.

--The Beavers put backup quarterback Cody Vaz in for a series, which resulted in one completion in two attempts and a sack. It was simply to calm down a rattled Ryan Katz, but with this season rapidly deteriorating, maybe it's time for the redshirt freshmen to be given a series or two on a regular basis.

--The loss of two defensive tackles led to playing time for senior reserve Evan Hull. That will have to continue, or the Beavers will completely wear out starters Stephen Paea and Kevin Frahm.

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