Black & Orange YouTube: The Greatest Upset

IT ENDURES AS one of the greatest upsets in college football history. In 1985, Oregon State went on the road to Washington and the Huskies were, depending on the line, a monstrous 37 or 38 point favorite. The Beavers were starting their backup QB, a redshirt frosh, and were without their Pac-10 leading receiver. But OSU served notice early. And when it counted most, they served it again late.

Oregon State football had fallen on rock hard times since the 1965 Rose Bowl. After finishing the year 8-3 and ranked No. 8 in the nation, OSU had not been bowling since. And they had, incredibly, suffered through 14-straight losing seasons heading into the 1985 game with the UW.

It wasn't as if OSU had given their fans much hope in the weeks leading up to the road tilt in Seattle -- in their previous two games the Beavers had failed to score and been drilled by Washington State, 34-0, and by USC, 63-0. In terms of points surrendered, it was a two game program mark for futility. And before the USC loss, the Beavers had been drummed 27-6 by Division II Grambling.

The Seattle media weren't having a field day, they were having a field week. Indeed, all week long in leading up to Saturday's game in Husky Stadium, the newspapers went off on the Beavers.

One writer, Steven Runciman of the Post-Intelligencer, had perhaps penned the commentary that cut deepest.

"Oregon State plays football pretty much the way Barney Fife played a deputy sheriff in Mayberry. They have ceased being a joke. They are not only an embarrassment to themselves and their fans, they are an embarrassment to the Pac-10. Beaverball is a blight that has gone on long enough," wrote Runciman.

To many, Oregon State didn't appear to have the firepower to prove him wrong. The Beavers were starting Rich Gonzales at quarterback, replacing an injured Eric Wilhelm. To make matters worse, Oregon State and Pac-10 leading receiver Reggie Bynum would miss the game.

Washington was leading the Pac-10 race for the Rose Bowl coming in. And as OSU prepared to take the field, the UW players began to bark at them like dogs. But the Beavs rose up when the whistle sounded.

After it was over, OSU had set an NCAA record. No team in the history of D-I football had ever before overcome a Las Vegas line of 38 points or more. Washington finished the season with a conference mark of 5-3. It was UCLA, whom Washington had previously defeated, who went to the Rose Bowl with a 6-2 Pac-10 record. Had UW beat Oregon State, Washington would have won the tie-breaker and gone to the Rose Bowl instead.

But what of the media and the aftermath of Oregon State's win over Washington? After spending the week leading up the Saturday gouging away at Oregon State, what did Runciman and other media scribes have to say immediately following the game? Perhaps the Oregon State Alumni Association explained it best:

After the game, a few doors down from where his team was celebrating its amazing upset, first-year Head Coach Dave Kragthorpe sat at a table staring out at a room full of empty chairs. He was waiting to answer questions from the Seattle media.

They never showed up.

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