TOP 5 BLACK & ORANGE PERFORMANCES IN HUGE WIN

THE HIGHS WERE multiple in Oregon State's 27-21 victory over No. 1 USC on Thursday. Indeed, the challenge is in selecting only a quintet of top performances, such was the level of black and orange play on the Reser Stadium turf tonight -- especially when the candidates include the likes of Jacquizz Rodgers, Keaton Kristick and Victor Butler. And that's before you even get to the o-line and d-line.

In no particular order...

1. RB Jacquizz Rodgers:
When a back gains 186 ground yards, it nearly always comes with at least one, and usually a couple, huge dashes to paydirt. Consider that Quizz' longest gain on the night was 15 yards. But his average yards per carry? A sterling 5.0 every time he touched the pigskin.

That's consistency. And quality.

And that he repeatedly ripped off 8-9-10 yard gainers was actually more impressive against a top notch defense than if the bulk of his yards had come on two long gallops. There will be no, "Yeah but if you take away those two long runs..." Nay, this was early, often and bone jarringly in your face.

Mike Riley said it took about two plays in training camp for him to realize Quizz would be a factor as a true freshman. The Trojans, who field a stellar, fast defense, found him a tough tackle, one who simply refuses to go down until the very last and his yards after contact were legion.

2. LB Keaton Kristick:
That was the one the Beaver Nation was waiting on. Christened the next great 'backer and Linebacker U, Kristick put together a complete game from start to finish.

And like all great linebackers who tackle with their face, Kristick came up biggest when it counted most.

Kristick racked up 10 tackles on the night, second only on the Beavs to safety Greg Laybourn's 11, with two for loss plus a sack.

3. QB Lyle Moevao:
The Beavs' field general directed the offense to the tune of 18-for-28 for an efficient 167 yards and two touchdowns.

There were a couple of passes that caused some Beaver fans angst but those were more than offset by the clutch third down passing and solid decision making.

And his fourth quarter strike to Shane Morales, a 22-yard gainer that was perfectly arched over a would-be defender, was a thing of beauty.

4. Beaver offensive line:
Give it up for the Oregon State hosses.

LT Andy Levitre, LG Adam Speer, C Alex Linnenkohl, RG Gregg Peat and RT Mike Remmers manhandled the Trojan front seven in the first half, opening up running lanes for Quizz and blunting the Trojan pass rush. It was striking to the degree Oregon State won the battle in the trenches.

The second half was a tougher scrum -- USC was ranked No. 1 for good reason and they field a fast, talented defense that will be among the best in the land when the season comes to a close. But the Beaver o-line battled back in the second half, in crunch time, moving the chains and paving the road for 73 second half rushing hashes by Quizz -- every one of them clutch. Lyle Moevao was sacked but once. The o-line on Thursday? Rock solid. And then some.

5. Beaver defensive line:
Surely, few could have predicted the d-line's breakout performance last week against Hawaii would be repeated, not with No. 1 USC coming to town.

But the Beavs held the USC juggernaut to 313 total yards and but 86 rushing hashes on 22 carries. And the biggest reason why -- the play up front by the Beaver stop corps.

DE Victor Butler had a superb night, one not properly illustrated by his stat line of five tackles and a fumble recovery. He was also robbed of a sack in a key fourth quarter stop when it appeared Trojan QB Mark Sanchez did not get the ball back to the line of scrimmage as he was headed down, thanks to a headlong leaping ankle tackle by Butler.

Defensive tackles don't get the eye popping stat numbers but Stephen Paea and Pernnell Booth were both huge against USC, clogging the middle, getting upfield against the pass and generally causing mayhem and frustration that reverberated throughout the entire USC offense.

Slade Norris forced the fumble just when it looked like USC was getting revved up in the second quarter, helping turn a 14-7 score headed into halftime into a 21-0 advantage. His four tackles included one for loss and he turned in solid sideline to sideline coverage.

THAT'S FIVE, AND we didn't even get to No. 6... the leading Beaver tackler on the night (11) and the guy who sealed the deal with the interception -- safety Greg Laybourn.

And we would be truly remiss not to mention one more.

7. The Beaver coaching staff:
The head coach is the manager of the program and Mike Riley was pitch perfect in orchestrating the upset win over a 24/5 point underdog. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker had his troops perfectly prepared and rarin' to go. He is one of the best kept d-coordinator secrets from a national perspective but insiders in the Pac-10 have long known he's one of the gems.

Mike Cavanaugh had his offensive line clicking and then some, particularly in the first half. It's difficult to say enough about the job coach Cav has done, mixing in veterans and first time starters and helping to craft a performance like the one seen in Corvallis on Thursday night.

Indeed, every Beaver assistant coach did a bang up job in preparing their troops -- Riley and his staff did all you can ask -- get them prepared to the nines and then let them play.

And on Thursday night, it was truly something to watch the Oregon State coaches and players hit their stride. Full throttle.


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