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The troubling thing if you're an Oregon State fan is reading between the lines during every radio interview and every quote in every preview of the bowl game. Sean Canfield said "it's tough to swallow", Keaton Kristick said "sure we're disappointed" about coming so close to a Rose Bowl berth in the regular season finale.
And while Mike Riley has an unblemished record in bowl games, and has always done an incredible job having his squad prepared when given more than a week to dial up a game plan, tripping over their collective lower lip is a legitimate concern for the Beavers.
Just ask Oregon, who couldn't get over their disappointing 2006 season finish after starting 5-1 including a win* over Oklahoma. They ended on a four game skid -- and the Ducks were summarily rolled by BYU in their bowl game, 38-8.
All the talent and all the coaching and all the preparation in the world can't help you if your heart and your head are in Pasadena.
What Beaver Nation needs to realize is that there's absolutely no shame in this destination. BYU is a legitimate top-flight opponent and during the bowl previews the BYU - Oregon State tilt has been touted as the premier non-BCS matchup.
Brigham Young has a 1,000 yard rusher, and a quarterback posting gaudy stats -- a 30-14 TD-to-INT ratio, along with nearly 3,400 yards), and plays in the toughest non-BCS conference in the country. And one could make a strong argument that their conference is better than the Big East.
No, this finish is no consolation prize, not when the facts are all considered. Oregon State has the sixth-youngest team in the country this season. There were new faces everywhere on both sides of the ball, and by most accounts the Beavers were looking to have a rebuilding year.
Playing the final game of the year for the Rose Bowl is no small accomplishment given such a set of circumstances, and putting this final game in the win column would give the Beavers a Top 15 ranking in the season ending polls. That, in and of itself, is downright remarkable. On to the keys..
|Don't let Oregon beat you twice|
|Find the pass rush|
The best medicine for an ailing pass rush? A pocket passer.
Oregon State's defense is at its best when their own "Waterboy" (Kristick) is running all over the field decleating
people. Last game of the year, can't hold anything back now, as Dan Fouts would say while Brent Musberger derisively asks him if he came up with that all by himself.
|REVIEWING LAST GAME'S KEYS:|
2. Ball Control: No fumbles, no INT's. Unfortunately the one thing OSU didn't do is capitalize on the moments when Oregon put the ball on the carpet. Dockery had an interception early, but OSU didn't capitalize on the opportunities when Oregon did put the ball on the carpet. +1 on turnovers when OSU needed to be +2 was the difference: Masoli's fumble that he recovered, had it bounced into Beaver hands, might have been the game. Still, the offense did their part. Grade: A.
3. Hit Them Between the Eyes: Paea was a man possessed, fighting through double teams and punching the ball out of LaMichael James' hands. The Beavers did an outstanding job not allowing Oregon to run between the tackles, which is the moment Oregon really has you where they want you. A couple of sacks would have been a gift from heaven. Grade: B.