That downer of a 3-9 season in 2011 certainly wasn't enjoyable for anyone in the program, and in addition to the usual long offseason, the Beavers also had to deal with the death of teammate Fred Thompson, who collapsed while playing basketball with friends and teammates.
Nobody has put that tragedy behind them completely, but the Beavers are certainly enjoying this season so far, with a pair of wins over top-20 teams that has vaulted OSU into the rankings with a 2-0 start heading to a game at Arizona.
So how did the Beavers celebrate their latest win? Riley promised them a trip through an In-N-Out Burger, a favorite of all those California players, on the way to the airport to catch their charter back home.
Everybody enjoyed that, and so far this season, it's been nothing but fun (and success) for the Beavers.
WHAT'S AHEAD: OSU's defense will find itself up against even more of a fast-tempo offense in Arizona as the Beavers go on the road for the second consecutive week. The experience of facing a mobile quarterback in UCLA's Brett Hundley should help as OSU seeks to find a way to slow Arizona's Matt Scott. The other issue will be how the Beavers handle being a team now expected to win, instead of a big underdog to a ranked opponent.
The wins over Wisconsin and UCLA when both were in the top 20 of the polls marks the first time the Beavers defeated ranked teams in consecutive games since the 2000 season. It also vaulted the Beavers into the national polls for the first time since the 2010 season, at No. 18 in the media voting for the Associated Press and No. 21 in the coaches' voting for USA Today.
Mike Riley is now tied with Lon Stiner for the most wins (74) as a head coach at OSU.
Even after facing two of the nation's best running backs, the Beavers have one of the top rushing defenses in the country, allowing 107 yards on 51 carries in two games, an average of 2.1 yards per rush. After limiting Wisconson's Montee Ball to 61 yards, the Beavers held Johnathan Franklin, who entered the game as the nation's leading rusher, to 45 yards on 12 carries.
KEEP AN EYE ON: OSU wide receivers Brandin Cooks (175) and Markus Wheaton (150) each had career-high totals for receiving yards.
LOOKING GOOD: Freshman Storm Woods rushed for 96 yards on 21 carries and also caught two passes for another 18 yards. He would have probably gone over 100 yards for the first time in his college career except for some issues with leg cramps that sent him to the sidelines.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Beavers need to cut down, if not eliminate, some needless penalties. They had a touchdown called back against UCLA, and a couple of drives by the Bruins were kept alive by personal-foul penalties on the Beavers for late hits on the quarterback. There was also a false start by a tight end late in the game which cost the Beavers the chance to run out the clock. The total was nine penalties for 90 yards, which were too many.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "All those things take care of themselves. Later on, that's where I want to be, up there in the rankings." OSU coach Mike Riley, on the Beavers entering the top 25 of the national polls.
|STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL|
PLAYER NOTES: Markus Wheaton caught nine passes to move into a tie for fifth with Phil Ross on OSU's career list with 153 receptions.
Sean Mannion's 379 yards passing were a career high and he is the sixth quarterback in OSU history with more than one game of more than 350 passing yards. He also went over 200 passing yards for the 13th straight game.
Punter Keith Kostol averaged 43.9 yards on his seven punts, including a long of 61 yards. Four of his punts were downed inside the UCLA 20-yard line, a major factor in field position in the game. He was named the Pac-12 special team's player of the week.
- Fullback Clayton York played for the first time this season and started after dealing with a hamstring problem for much of the preseason workouts.
- The Beavers have put the speed of outside linebackers Michael Doctor and D.J. Welch to great use so far. One key now will be developing the depth behind them.
- Saferty Anthony Watkins missed The Opening game with a sore shoulder, but it was important that he was back and able to play against UCLA when starter Ryan Murphy went out with cramping issues.