2010 Oregon State Football: Shades of ‘67?

IF THERE IS one perfect allegory for the 2010 Oregon State football season, it is that of a roller coaster. The season has featured more twists and turns, highs and lows, and unexpected drops than anyone could possibly have imagined. The '10 Beavers have been a walking, talking, sweating, bleeding, pad cracking paradox. And that's not the half of it.

Reading a stat line for the Beavers is a little like code breaking. It doesn't make a lot of sense. The Beavers have one of the best turnover ratios in the country, and one of the worst rushing defenses, yet one of the best pass rushing defenses.

QB Ryan Katz' TD to INT ratio (16-to-5) is the best of any Mike Riley quarterback at any stage of his collegiate career, much less a first year starter. And despite the loss of all-purpose yardage machine James Rodgers, the Beavers have been productive at tight end and receiver. Yet, still, Katz has struggled to convert on third down, and struggled to produce at times.

Would it surprise anyone right now that at 2.9 sacks per game, the Beaver defense currently leads the Pac 10 in sacks, (Cal has 30 in 11 games, OSU has 29 in 10), and those 29 sacks are the tenth most in the nation?

This is a front seven that boasts possibly the best defensive tackle in the country in Stephen Paea, but who would have thought the Beavers would survive the sudden losses of MLB David Pa'aluhi and DE Matt LaGrone, the chronic injuries to DE replacement Taylor Henry, the loss of defensive tackles Brennan Olander and Castro Masaniai from the rotation -- and still be able to turn in that kind of performance?

THE BEATDOWN OF USC was arguably the finest OSU performance thus far, certainly for the Oregon State defense. But this past Saturday brought something new to the fore -- a dominant performance by the offensive line.

The Beaver front on offense, criticized all season by media and fans for their lack of physicality, absolutely blew the Trojans off the ball. Jacquizz Rodgers, tasked with running inside a phone booth much of the season, suddenly found enough room to drive a Range Rover through.

Faced with an opportunity to fold up the tents and call it a season, to start looking forward to a ‘11 campaign that would feature both Rodgers brothers one more time, the Beavers instead collectively set their jaw, bowed their backs, and refused to blink. OSU refused to take the easier road and go quietly and instead fought back -- clawing, scratching and battling every inch of the way.

Best of all, they did it for 60 minutes. It was impressive, it was inspired – and it was inspirational.

With all due respect to the win over Cal, the USC game was something different. It was a crossroads, and with Stanford and Oregon looming, it was a statement. No game is un-winnable.

These are still the Giant Killers.

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