Defense helps Oregon State move to No. 7
The defense came to the rescue again for Oregon State.
Utah’s four turnovers – two lost fumbles and two interceptions –
were the difference in the Beavers’ 21-7 win over the Utes in a
cold, drizzly game Saturday night.
The reward was that Oregon State (6-0, 4-0 Pac-12) became bowl
eligible and the next day popped up a place in the rankings to No.
7. The Beavers also moved to No. 7 in the BCS standings.
”When you look at why you win, turnovers can be great
indicators. … (Utah) ran the ball better than we did, but they
turned the ball over in very bad field position,” Oregon State
coach Mike Riley said.
Turnovers were killer for the Utes (2-5, 0-4). The first two – a
Michael Doctor interception and a Dylan Wynn fumble recovery – set
up the Beavers for easy touchdown drives deep in Utah territory.
The third – a fumbled pitch at the Beavers 3-yard line – killed a
promising scoring drive. Finally, a frantic Utah rally in the final
minutes ended when quarterback Travis Wilson was picked off by Sean
”The biggest disappointment offensively was turning the ball
over four times and scoring one touchdown,” Utah coach Kyle
Whittingham said. ”You’re going to win exactly zero games doing
In contrast, the Beavers committed no turnovers. Oregon State
has forced 16 turnovers this year while committing only six, giving
the Beavers the best turnover margin (1.67) in the conference and
eighth best in the nation. Last season, while stumbling to a 3-9
record, the Beavers committed 31 turnovers while opponents had only
Led for the second straight game by backup quarterback Cody Vaz,
the Beavers’ offense managed a paltry 230 yards on offense compared
to Utah’s 307. Vaz overthrew some receivers and was not as
impressive as in his 332-yard debut passing performance against
BYU, which earned him Pac-12 player of the week honors.
However, Vaz managed the game well. He didn’t force throws –
relying mostly on short passes – and avoided major mistakes. Riley
employed a conservative strategy, punting several times on
fourth-and-short situations, and putting the game in the hands of
That defense put the focus on Utah quarterback Wilson, a true
freshman who took over last month when Jordan Wynn suffered a
career-ending injury. The Beavers believed if they were aggressive
they could rattle Wilson and cause mistakes. They were right.
”Coverage and pressure go together,” said safety Ryan Murphy.
”The guys on the D-Line did what they had to do and the secondary
did what we had to do also. That’s all that matters.”
Curiously, the Beavers have been much better offensively in road
games than at Reser Stadium and have had to rely on the defense to
pull out the victories in each of their three home wins, 10-7 over
Wisconsin, 19-6 win over Washington State, and this game.
Starting quarterback Sean Mannion could return for the Beavers
when they travel this weekend to Washington, though Riley refused
to say when he would decide. Mannion missed two games after
undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, but he
returned to practice late last week.
The Huskies (3-4, 1-3) lost 52-17 to Arizona on Saturday. The
Beavers will attempt to go 7-0 for the first time in school
”I think the sky is the limit for us,” running back Storm
Woods said. ”We have to keep going, respecting ourselves and