What Happened in Las Vegas Stays in Las Vegas

I walk into Sam Boyd Stadium with Webmaster Dan. It has been a good day so far. We had a smooth flight to Las Vegas and hit the ground running with a quick trip to Buffalo Bill's casino in Primm, Nevada. Buffalo Bill's is located about 40 miles west of Las Vegas and is home to one of the best roller coasters on the west coast, the Desperado. We enjoy a couple of rides, hop in the car, make a few wrong turns at Albuquerque, and pull into the stadium parking lot about an hour before game time.

The first thing that I notice as I enter the stadium is that we OSU fans are definitely outnumbered by the Lobo faithful. Lobo fans are friendly and the UNM cheerleaders are handing out Lobo bang sticks to Lobo and Beaver fan alike. I hear the phrase, “OSU has better athletes” for the first time. I will hear it 1,724 more times before the day is out.

Webmaster Dan and I watch the Beavers warm up so we can gauge the fired-up factor. Richard Seigler stands out. He looks like he wants to hit someone, RIGHT NOW; the Lobo cheerleaders look at him nervously and rethink offering him a bang stick. Big Game James Newson stands out as another Beaver ready to play.

Dan Norz / BeaverFootball.com
Linebacker Richard Seigler was fired up before the game, during the game, and after the game.

Christmas music is playing over the P.A. system, slow Christmas music, the kind of Christmas that you put on when you want to take a nap after a big Christmas dinner. The OSU linebacker coach starts yelling, “Turn it off. Turn it off! Turn it off!!!”

The Beavers get the ball to start the game. Right off the bat it is obvious that the Lobos will be stacking their defense against the run, and that they will be blitzing the entire game. So here we go again. The opposition is going to make Derek and the receivers prove that they can move the ball. Webmaster Dan assures me that everything will be okay. It is his opinion that the USC game was a turning point for Derek Anderson. He stood in tough against the Trojans and showed he could take it, so look out Lobos.

The Beavers score on a beautiful screen pass. Two Lobos bounce off of Steven Jackson on his way to the end zone. Bouncing off of Steven Jackson is a feeling the Lobos will come to know well. They will also become familiar with Steven’s stiff-arm, also known as the El Dorado Battering Ram, the Corvallis Pile driver, the Jackson Jackhammer.

Things are looking good then IT happens again, a bad special teams play followed by an opponent’s score, offense three and out, and a bad punt snap. The first quarter is coming to a close and it is jock check time.

“I don’t know Dan, would you run a play or let the clock run out?” “I would run a play.” “Really?” “Why not, it’s a bowl game, you are supposed to have fun.” Once again I bow to the opinion of the Webmaster, the flea flicker was a great call, executed perfectly, and Derek put the ball right on the money. A lot of high desert air went out of the Lobo fans after that play. The Lobo fans look a lot like the guy sitting in front of us who tells his buddy, “I’m about $500 down so far, but I hope to make it up tonight.” Right.

Derek Anderson was on target all game against UNM.

The Beavers start to dominate in every phase of the game. The defensive line is destroying everything the Lobo offense tries. The linebackers and secondary are flying to the ball. I’m getting that Fiesta Bowl feeling again. I guess chanting, “Ru-dy, Ru-dy, Ru-dy...” wouldn’t mean anything to the Lobos.

It is the end of the first half and it is time to take inventory:

  • Steven Jackson is playing like a man on a mission. He looks quick, fast, and is handing out mucho punishment to Lobo tacklers.
  • Derek is playing nearly flawless football.
  • No dropped passes.
  • No dumb penalties.
  • Joe Lemma has been a lean mean kick-off coverage machine and has been in on almost every tackle. My main man Keller C. still runs into everything. You can’t track him by looking for hair but you can spot him by looking for the most violent collision during any kickoff.
  • The offensive line is handling the Lobo blitzes. The Lobos keep blitzing, but they aren’t getting to Derek very often.
  • The offensive play calling is keeping the Lobos off-balance. The quick passes to Big Game James and Tim Euhus are killing them.
  • “Sugar” Aric Williams looked good in his “Fight Night in Las Vegas” debut.
  • The OSU band is in particularly fine form.
  • The men’s restroom lines are much much longer than the Women’s lines. The men are drinking much, much, much more beer.

The second half starts and the game takes right up where it left off, Lobos three and out, Beavers go down for a score. There is only one moment of doubt, the series after Cole Clasen’s fumble. It is defense jock check time again...the jocks are intact.

The butt-whuppin’ continues and the crowd’s attention starts to wander. I look across the stadium and see a sign, “Sean McD is a Thug.” Choice.

Dan Norz / BeaverFootball.com
The Oregon State defense held the Lobo offense in check all night.

A group of youngsters with their shirtless upper torsos painted “LOBOS” on their fronts and “ESPN #1” on their backs shows up in our section. Mr. “E’s” shorts sag further and further down his hips. The crowd starts to chant, “Pull up your pants, pull up your pants…” Suddenly, there is a full moon over Las Vegas. After favoring the crowd with his vertical smile Mr. “E” pulls his pants up to what would be considered normal by most post-adolescents. The crowd chants, “Thank you E! Thank you E! Thank you E.”

A less than cool Beaver fan throws their empty beer bottle at a local, just to the right and in front of us, once again proving that every school’s fans has its share of jerks. I realize a guy wearing gangster gear and sunglasses at night is an inviting target, but I hope for better from OSU fans. The local yokel, a.k.a. G-Funk L.V., stands with his back to the field staring at the OSU throng trying to figure out who tried to peg him. G-Funk thinks he has it figured out and runs up and engages some inebriated OSU fans in lively conversation. He ends up going back to his original seat with, once again, his back to the game. He faces the orange sea with his arms crossed and his head down as he gathers his Ninja mojo together and contemplates attacking 25 orange-clad drunks. The karmic centering takes about 10 minutes and the crowd is eagerly watching to see what action G-Funk will take. His inner voices must have been talking common sense; G-Funk shakes a hand or two and makes his exit.

Most of the second half is a blur, the game comes to a merciful end, and I go over a mental checklist:

  • This was the best offensive play calling of the year.
  • Derek had a great game and was calm in the pocket despite all of the blitzing.
  • UNM has the combination of what must be the shortest and tallest linebacking combination in football.
  • This game was too perfect for Steven Jackson to come back next year.
  • This was the best defensive play calling of the year.
  • You can’t run the option when your offensive line gets shoved back into the play, every play (How well I remember those days.) The OSU defensive tackles did not give UNM or Dontrell Moore any chance to get going.
  • I hope Mike Riley brought a plethora of recruits to watch the game. Can you bring recruits to a bowl game?
  • I’m going to miss the seniors, but they went out in style.
  • This is the second bowl game Webmaster Dan and I have been to, the other being the Fiesta Bowl. Two bowl games, both ending in a shellacking, maybe the Beavers should pay us to go next time.

Big Daddy Orange can be reached at bigdaddyorange@beaverfootball.com.

The 2003 Las Vegas Bowl

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