JAMES RODGERS and RYAN KATZ
WHEN JAMES RODGERS, who had scored the only OSU touchdown to that point, was knocked out of the game in the third quarter, and with the Beavs down by 14 to the nation's No. 3 team on the road, any comeback prospects looked dim. But Oregon State did come back, cutting the lead to a single digit on two occasions. Alas, they just couldn’t come all the way back.
Penalties and questionable non-calls from this game will be talked about -- they were in significant supply on Saturday. And seeing one of the Beavs' most dynamic and well-liked players get knocked out of the game on a controversial non-call, well that tends to get the blood boiling. But none of that is why the Beavers lost on Saturday.
OSU lost 37-24 to BSU because offensively, they couldn’t protect Ryan Katz consistently enough from the Boise State rush, the OSU running game never seized control, and the Beaver D couldn’t stop Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.
OSU, by any reasonable analysis, was outplayed. Plain and simple.
Looking forward, for those who aren’t all-or-nothing types, yes, Oregon State is 1-2. But both losses were to the 3rd and 4th ranked teams in the country, on the road, and OSU was in both games in the fourth quarter with chances to win.
A team like that is certainly capable of making a memorable Pac-10 run, which, for the Beavers, starts next week against ASU.
THOSE PENALTIES AND non-calls will, however, likely lead to some lingering hard feelings by the fanbase, long after the final score has faded from memory.
Oregon State’s offense was stymied in the first half, while Boise State's ripped off chunks of yardage, mostly through the air. Still, a James Rodgers punt return for touchdown kept the Beavs in it early – the game was tied at the end of the first quarter 7-7. BSU pressed their advantage to two scores at the half, 24-10.
Fourteen points down. A manageable deficit, though not exactly where OSU wanted to be at the break. But ultimately the Beavs had to feel fortunate. Boise State had dominated the first half and their lead could have been, probably should have been, larger.
THE THIRD QUARTER, that gave rise to both hope and frustration.
The trash talking had started the moment foot made contact with pigskin in this one. But it turned ugliest in the second half, when actions and not words took center stage. What stood out most, perhaps, was when the Beavs lost James Rodgers in the third quarter. A two play sequence saw Rodgers seemingly fouled three times -- with nary a flag thrown.
First, Rodgers on a fly sweep absorbed what appeared a grasped and obvious facemask. It wasn't the first time. The OSU wideout earlier in the game had motioned twice that his facemask had been pulled.
But on all three occasions, the officials either disagreed or didn’t see an infraction. But that’s not what knocked Rodgers out of the game.
Rodgers, trying to run interference for an improvising and on-the-run Ryan Katz, was first blocked in the back, and then ear-holed, helmet to helmet. No flag was forthcoming for either infraction, and Rodgers lay motionless.
He eventually walked to the sideline under his own power but unsteadily so, and was done for the night with the medical staff taking his helmet to ensure his presence on the bench.
After Rodgers left, the officials flagged Boise State twice for 15-yard penalties, extending the OSU drive – once for taunting, the other for leading with the helmet. (On the latter, slo-motion replays looked to reveal the Boise State player didn’t actually make contact, though the official may have thrown the flag for leading with the helmet regardless.)
Were those two penalties semi-makeup calls for what happened to Rodgers on the previous two plays? Everyone, from Boise to Corvallis and beyond, likely has their own opinions on that.
The Beavs scored on that drive, a 14-play-81 yarder with Jacquizz Rodgers applying the cap with a 4-yard run. But down by seven, the Beaver D couldn’t hold. OSU again would cut it to seven on a crazy play at the end of the third quarter-- Katz threw back across his body, Darrell Catchings made a wondrous leaping grab, then fumbled into the end zone and Joe Halahuni recovered for the Beaver score. It was 31-24 entering the fourth quarter, but OSU would get no closer.
Oregon State’s D did a better job of generating a pass rush, and stopping the run, than they had in their first two games. But it still wasn’t enough -- not nearly enough -- to slow down Kellen Moore and BSU. Even when OSU got a little heat on the Boise QB, he still completed passes, hitting 19-of-27 for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He was not sacked on the night.
THERE WERE MORE questionable calls and non-calls of the personal foul variety -- on both sides. A partial list would include Cameron Collins being flagged for what was termed a late hit by the ABC announcing team but looked more like unnecessary roughness. Quizz grabbed a BSU facemask with no flag thrown, after apparently feeling he had been fouled, (Quizz had his helmet removed but play continued, with Quizz being driven back while blowing whistles were either never heard or ignored.) One of the most eye catching – a BSU player throwing punches at two OSU players.
The punches didn’t hurt, they were either misses or glancing blows landing on pads and helmets, but the absence of a penalty call for a player taking clear swings at opposing players no doubt left Beaver Nation with arms stretched wide and mouths agape.
WHICH LEADS US back to the beginning. The stats accurately tell the story of why the Beavs fell to 1-2, and it had little to do with yellow flags or non-calls.
Boise State about doubled Oregon State in total yardage, 469 to 237. And the Broncos converted a sparkling 9-of-14 third downs – that hurt the most, with the Beaver D often doing a nice job on the first two downs, followed by BSU moving the chains.
BSU’s defensive front, and particularly the line, was every bit as good as advertised, overrunning the Beaver o-line on a regular basis.
OSU put some kinks into Boise State’s garden hose, and they kept it close, but both were temporary states on the way to a loss. And just like in the TCU loss, and to paraphrase Yogi Berra, by the end, it was all over.
Except perhaps this time, for some hard feelings and pointed fingers.
Pac-10 play starts next week. And what new storylines it will bring, one can only imagine.