Mike Riley and his Oregon State Beavers have made a living surprising Pac-10 foes for years, consistently beating teams with higher rankings or more talent. But on a snowy Saturday afternoon, Stanford solidly squashed any Cinderella story in the making, downing the host Beavers 45-21.
They just killed us on the lines," Beaver coach Mike Riley said. "You can't really scheme around that, especially in the snow. Our big guys were on skates on both sides of the ball."
Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and once the Stanford hog-bellies got initial leverage on the Beavers, a hole for a running back or a path to the opposing quarterback was all but inevitable. The defense managed five sacks and perhaps a dozen hurries of Beaver quarterback Ryan Katz, while the offense went on four first-half touchdown drives to effectively end the game an hour after it began.
"Man, it was fun out there today," tackle Jonathan Martin said. "We all had a lot of pancakes, and that makes you feel like Superman – shoving 300-pound guys around like it's nothing. We busted our butts over the summer with [strength and conditioning] coach Turley, and it paid off today."
Stepfan Taylor, Anthony Wilkerson, Tyler Gaffney and Luck were the Cardinal's Four Horsemen in the first half, each scoring a ground touchdown as Oregon State could only watch helplessly. Stanford led 28-0 in the mid-second and 28-7 at the break, and the outlook for the Beavers was as bleak as the November weather.
"Owen Marecic, Sione Fua, Andrew Phillips, guys like that were all great players for us last year," Coach David Shaw said. "So no offense to them, but I think our lines this year might be better yet. You wouldn't have thought it back in August, but I have full confidence in our linemen against just about anybody."
The confidence paid off on defense, as ferocious pressure up front let the Cardinal show nickel and dime looks in the back seven and focus on defending the pass. Katz and the Beavers didn't cough up an interception on the day, but they didn't accomplish much either, dinking and dunking their way to six punts and just 225 yards of offense on the day. Receiver Markus Wheaton led the Beavers with 82 receiving yards on seven catches.
"We stressed the whole week, just keep it in front of us, keep it in front of us," defensive back Michael Thomas said. We thought our offense would score a few times, so we were just focused on slowing down Oregon State, not trying to shut them down entirely. And between the weather and what we did, I think we were able to slow them down."
Backup quarterback Josh Nunes threw a third-quarter score to receiver Drew Terrell, and ran in a fourth-quarter scamper, while Jordan Williamson hit a 27-yarder with five minutes to go to give Stanford her 45 points.
Oregon State's first two touchdowns came on Ryan McCants runs, a 10-yarder in the late second, and a 14-yarder in the early fourth, as McCants managed 53 yards on 13 carries. Katz found Wheaton on a 12-yarder with three minutes left in the game.
"This is probably the best defense we've seen this year," McCants said. "They didn't give us anything easy today, and made us work for it all."
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