Beavs begin bowl practice after finals

QB Matt Moore lifts the Sun Bowl trophy in '06.

DESPITE THE SUN Bowl being over three weeks away and the Civil War over a week old one of the first words uttered out of Oregon State head coach Mike Riley's mouth was about the ugly Civil War loss and the possibility of a hangover.

“We certainly don’t want to end our season on a bad note," Riley said. "We already ended our regular season with a loss, which is very disappointing. There will be some residual effect on that."

And Riley is hopeful that his players can exercise some of that residual effect out of their systems quickly in hopes of the program grabbing their fifth consecutive bowl game victory.

"This is no time for babies. We can’t whine about that anymore," said Riley who is 55-42 at OSU. "I have a sense this team will do a great job with that and will have had time to get a mindset for the preparation for this game.”

But before they turn their focus to Pittsburgh the players must focus on finals as they start their final exams Dec. 8. After Dec. 13 it's back to the practice fields as the Beavers hold its first of 16 practice sessions.

Twelve of the sesssions will be for the veterans while the freshman and walk-ons get an extra four days of work - one of the major benefits of qualifying for a bowl game.

“A bowl game helps our program so much as far as younger players getting a chance to progress," defensive end Slade Norris said. "Going into a bowl game there is a lot more national exposure as far as recruiting, so being able to go to a bowl game helps the program out tremendously.”

The Men in Black have qualified for a bowl game in eight of the last 10 years while their four game bowl winning streak is the longest in the Pac-10.

Norris says there are two reasons why OSU has finished the season with a win in its last four tries.

“For one, we always finish well at the end of the season. That is part of what we build this program on," Norris said. "Second, a lot of teams go into bowl games and get distracted by the different surroundings, but coach Riley and the staff really do a great job of keeping our goals in mind and getting down to business."

Quarterback Lyle Moevao will be making his second career bowl game start. Last year in the Emerald Bowl he completed 5 of 9 passes for 40 yards before being knocked out in the first quarter with an ankle injury.

“It is definitely exciting being in my second bowl game that I can participate in," Moevao said. "I am happy for the seniors, being able to have this chance to go out with a win. I’ll be happy to help them out with that and hopefully everything works out.”

The last time OSU visited Texas they turned in one of the most exciting bowl victories of the year as running back Yvenson Bernard plunged in for the two point conversion and the win with 22 seconds left.

Following are OSU's final drive of the game and the winning two point conversion.

The final drive

 

Two point conversion

 

NOTES:

  • RB Jacquizz Rodgers is expected to play. “I know Quizz is getting better,” Riley said. “We’ll see. That decision will be made as we go – how he feels and how much he can do.”
  • Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt and Mike Riley first met in San Antonio when Riley was the head coach of the WFL's San Antonio Riders and Wannstedt was the defensive coordinator for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. "I was excited for him when he got the Pitt job," Riley said. "I have a good feeling what kind of a team he’s got going there. It will be a very tough, well-coached and physical football team, I’m sure.”
  • Despite the less than stellar reviews from several fan bases about El Paso OSU offensive tackle Andy Levitre has positive memories from the Beavers trip in 2006. “We had a great time. We didn’t really know what to expect, we flew into the airport and I remember they had a big celebration down there. It is pretty exciting and I am looking forward to having fun out there again."

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