Football is a game won in the trenches... and the backfield... and the secondary... and with special…
Beavs' 2012 season waking up the echoes
And when recalling that halcyon age of OSU football, it's important to remember that season really was.
THAT SEASON IN retrospect has grown to Paul Bunyan-esque proportions, as everyone recalls the reign of terror that was the 2000 OSU defense. A defense so good that it deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as the great Pete Carroll defenses at USC, and a team that aside from a heartbreaking loss on Montlake with a kick that sailed wide, the 2000 Beavers were very nearly perfect.
How quickly we forget. How quickly we forget struggling to put away a D1-AA Eastern Washington team. How quickly we forget having to come from behind to beat New Mexico the next week.
AND BEST OF ALL, how quickly we forget the 44-38 win at the Rose Bowl that wasn't just a shootout.. but a game filled with magical bounces that went the Beavers' way.
Do you remember? Jonathan Smith was having a rough outing. He had just thrown a pick-six to UCLA's Mat Ball, whom, in case you had forgotten, was a defensive end. Trailing, that's when the magical bounces began. First up was the OSU version of the Immaculate Reception.
Smith's pass to Beaver Great TE Tim Euhus was broken up by a thunderous hit from the UCLA DB… but Robert Prescott, the OSU slot receiver trailing the play, was running downfield at full speed suddenly to find the ball drop magically in his hands. And he raced 50-some-odd yards to the house.
UCLA came roaring back, and the Beavers trailed again…before suddenly reeling off 16 points. Clinging to a 37-31 lead and backed up in their own end zone, disaster struck. Smith fumbled the ball and UCLA recovered for another defensive touchdown. But the officials waved off the recovery. The crowd noise had drowned out the whistles blowing the play dead before the snap, as a fortuitous false start was called on Euhus.
OSU HAD RETAINED possession. And then Dennis Erickson lost his mind. Just lost his mind.
On third and 21, and Erickson had third string running back Antonio Battle in the backfield, and Erickson called a draw. A draw.
Yet a magical thing happened. Instead of what would normally happen in this situation, Battle was not tackled for a loss in the end zone and a safety. He didn't rush for 12 yards, leaving Erickson to this day to be ridiculed for calling the dumbest play ever in the history of college football. No, on third and 21, Erickson called a draw.
And Antonio Battle rushed for 22 yards.
Oregon State's magical season would continue with a 44-38 win at the Rose Bowl. But magical seasons have magical bounces that aren't really magical at all. They're born of a will that is forged in the offseason, and bred from a common mentality. And for Oregon State this season, that cumulative mentality has been to just be tougher than the other guy.
It's not about 40 times, bench press numbers, stat sheets, or star rankings of recruiting classes, it's just about being the last guy to blink. It's about imposing their will upon the opponent – something the Beavers have excelled at this season.
Will it continue on Saturday at No. 14 Stanford?
Something to me says it will. Something to me says that we've seen all this before.
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