A look back at the start of something special

OH WHAT A difference three years can make. With Oregon State lining up against Washington State this weekend, it calls to mind what happened three years ago when the Beavs and Cougs clashed.

In 2006, Washington State came into Reser Stadium and slugged out a 13-6 win over Riley's squad. The Beaver defense was stout that day, the OSU offense was "inept" according to newspaper stories.

It was the last straw for many. Oregon State had finished a disappointing 5-6 the year before. And now in '06, they had gotten blown out by Boise State and Cal, and with the WSU loss, OSU sat at 2-3.

A sign in the crowd during the game, pictured here from the AP, expressed the growing discontent.

Booster Al Reser after the WSU loss was quoted in the Oregon media, calling the current direction of the football program "unacceptable". Mike Riley, it was written, was under "major fire" and with the slide expected to continue after the WSU loss, some began thinking of who might be the next OSU coach.

But then Oregon State took off.

After WSU, the Beavers ran off four straight Pac-10 wins, including a monumental victory over USC. A setback against UCLA was followed by three more wins, including the Civil War and a bowl game win.

From 2-3 and calls to fire the coach to 10-4 and Top 25 ranking. You know the rest of the story -- the Beavs have gone 9-4 each of the past two years and have finished in the Top 25. Fans and boosters aren't calling for Riley's ouster anymore. They're instead worrying in the offseason about other programs trying to steal him away.

And it all started after the '06 game against WSU.

After Oregon State meets WSU this week on the road, the Beavs will almost certainly be 8-3. Meanwhile, Washington State has spiraled down since their 2006 meeting.

In '06 following their win over OSU, then-WSU coach Bill Doba led his team to a 6-3 mark and an AP poll ranking at No. 25 after Week 9. But WSU proceeded to lose their final three games of the season, didn't go to a bowl at 6-6 and Doba was let go after the 2007 campaign.

The Cougs have plumbed new depths in the two years since, with a 3-20 mark under Paul Wulff via a series of mostly blowouts as he nears the end of his second year at the WSU helm.

Longtime Oregon State fans can probably sympathize -- to a point. There's the 28-year streak without a winning record, for starters. From 1979-82, the Beavs didn't win a single Pac-10 game. They pulled off the same ignominious feat in 1992, 1995 and 1997.

But there will be no quarter given this week.

Not with a Rose Bowl berth on the line. Sorry you're struggling there Wazzu but here at Oregon State, we've already gone through our dark days. And a chance at the Roses awaits.

Stephen O'Dowd is a 1994 graduate of Oregon State and is a long time season ticket holder. BF.C welcomes guest submissions from our readers. If you're interested in submitting a column or story on the Beavs, send it to us here.

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