Beavers fire on all cylinders, crush Huskies

THE OREGON STATE defense blasted the UW for much of the first half in Saturday's season finale at Reser. Sacks, tackles for loss, takeaways -- the OSU stop corps was busy indeed. The Beaver offense was only slightly less sharp. Midway through the second quarter, OSU had already scored two touchdowns and two field goals for a 20-0 lead in what turned out to be a 48-21 romp that wasn't that close.

It seems hard to believe. Only a few weeks ago, Beaver fans were lamenting the lack of pressure up front on defense, a tepid sack total and various other defensive maladies.

Not any longer.

Oregon State held Washington to -1 rushing yards in the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, Oregon State had already posted an impressive seven tackles for loss.

The top performers on the black and orange were many on Saturday -- but the discussion should begin with defensive tackle Brennan Olander.

Olander, a junior who first came to Oregon State as a wrestler, made his impact felt on the UW's first series, disrupting Husky RB Chris Polk in the backfield on the first play and Gabe Miller finished him off for a loss.

On the next snap, Olander and Stephen Paea crushed Polk for a loss of three.

Tone set.

OLANDER'S EMERGENCE THE past few weeks has been one of the key reasons for the turnaround and for the decisive victory on Saturday -- although new starting d-ends Matt LaGrone and Miller, rolling up MLB David Pa'aluhi and blitzing more have all met with smashing success as well.

But with Olander making an impact both against the run and pass, that's taken away from the opponent's ability to double team Paea, who might be the most unblockable DT in the Pac-10 when facing single coverage.

WITH THE BEAVER D crushing the Huskies up front, the OSU offense started piling up the points.

A diving, by-the-fingertips interception by SLB Keaton Kristick, a nice piece of read-and-react work, set up OSU deep in Husky territory. A great block by Will Darkins on a fly sweep by James Rodgers took the ball to the 3-yard line. Sean Canfield calmly hit Joe Halahuni on a half rollout and the first of his four passing touchdowns on the day.

Halahuni had two of them, James Rodgers grabbed the other two and also ran a kickoff back 84 yards. Canfield had "only" 185 yards passing but he connected on 21 of 29 and the Beavers were rarely forced to punt (3 total). And of course, the four TD strikes.

Jacquizz Rodgers got dinged in the first half but came back strong as ever in the third quarter -- he racked up 159 rushing yards and scored twice. Quizz, still just a sophomore, went over the 1,000 yard mark for the second season in a row.

COMING IN, the worry was about Washington's fleet footed quarterback, Jake Locker. Oregon State sacked him four times, harassed him on numerous others and he finished with minus-13 yards rushing.

Locker did, however, complete 15 of 24 passes. But Locker only had 156 yards passing and the Washington offense could muster but 274 total yards all told. And although Locker had three touchdown passes, two came in the fourth quarter and long after the game had been decided.

WITH USC'S LOSS to Stanford today, things have gotten very interesting in the race for the Rose Bowl. If Arizona loses two of their final four games, not that much of a stretch given their difficult remaining schedule of Cal, Oregon, ASU and USC, the Beavs, if they win out, would hold their destiny in their hands -- if they win out.

A Beaver win over WSU next week appears as close to a given as you can get in the world of college football. If the Ducks do likewise over ASU tonight and then Arizona next week, it could potentially set up a titanic Civil War that would see the winner earn the Rose Bowl berth.

We'll be back with more a little later on here on BF.C...

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