Winning the Hawai’i Bowl by beating Boise State 38-23 isn’t going to take away from the very poor finish Oregon State had to this season, but it’s probably quite a relief to win a bowl game for the first time since that awful Sun Bowl five years ago, maybe setting off the program with a good feeling into what hopefully will be a better next season.
It wasn’t just about changing their bowl game traditions from recent years, but about halting the slide. After being stunned by Eastern Washington in the season opener, the Beavers went on to win six straight, including four against conference rivals. The problem was the second half of their conference schedule, resulting in five straight losses to Stanford, USC, Arizona State, Washington and Oregon. Pretty much all the teams most teams will mention as being better than Oregon State in the current Pac-12.
They’ve worked hard, they haven’t lost their focus even though there’s been some discouragement, they didn’t let it stay with them. I loved how they’ve responded all year. When you win, you’d like to say it’s a good ending — a good beginning for the upcoming year.
They caught Boise State in the most convenient of timing. Chris Petersen gone, and the program having their worst season, finishing with five losses, since 1998. It’s hard to tell if this was just one down year for who might be the premier non-AQ team of the last 15 years, or is this really the end of an era for Boise State, and it’s going to be a very long time before they become a team worth mentioning on a national level.
Boise State turned the ball over twice, which helped Oregon State build a 38-6 lead before they could put the gear into neutral and cruise for the rest of the way, while the Broncos put some points on the board, scoring the final 17 points in the contest. Rashaad Reynolds got to return two fumbles for a touchdown, and it’s hard to recover from such mistakes. These were the first fumble recoveries turned into touchdowns for Oregon State since 2007.
It was a big game for Storm Woods on the ground, getting to 107 yards on only 16 carries, scoring a touchdown. Terron Ward, running for 54 yards and nine carries, added a touchdown as well. The Beavers were five yards shy of 200 yards on the ground, while Sean Mannion completed 24-of-33 passes for 259 yards, connecting with Brandin Cooks for a touchdown and throwing one interception that really didn’t make a difference.
It’s hard to be too optimistic about next season for Oregon State if they have big things in mind. Oregon, Stanford and Washington aren’t getting any weaker, but the Beavers do have a better returning class to look forward to in 2014 than they did when coming off a strong 2012 this year. It might not get them into the playoff discussion, but simply being a bit more relevant and possibly even getting a long awaited win in the Civil War will be more than enough for this program, waiting for quite some time to step out of Oregon’s shadow.