Bowl eligibility at stake as Huskies host Beavers
SEATTLE (AP) Mike Riley asked for a show of hands in the meeting room. He wanted everyone who was on the field for one of the worst losses in his coaching tenure at Oregon State to acknowledge they were there.
Getting routed 69-27 can leave an impression.
''I guess there are many different buttons that are pushed about motivation but that one may be very, very appropriate for most of us here,'' Riley said.
A year after getting blitzed at home by Washington, the Beavers (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) travel north on Saturday to face the Huskies (6-5, 2-5) in a crucial game for both programs. The past two times facing Washington have left lasting impacts on Oregon State.
Two years ago, Oregon State was undefeated through six games and ranked No. 7 in the country when the Beavers traveled to Seattle and were handed a 20-17 defeat by the Huskies. Including that loss in October 2012, the Beavers are 15-15 in the 30 games since.
Then came last year when the Huskies rushed for 530 yards - the second most in school history - and had seven rushing touchdowns in the 69-27 blowout. Three different Huskies topped 100 yards rushing, including Dwayne Washington and Deontae Cooper, who should share the bulk of the carries on Saturday night.
''I would hope that we have lots of motivation,'' Riley said.
This could be the best chance at bowl eligibility for both schools. Washington and Oregon State close the regular season with rivals Washington State and Oregon, respectively. And neither program wants its opportunity at playing in a bowl game and getting extra weeks of practice hanging in the balance going into the final week of the regular season.
Oregon State is coming off its most impressive victory of the past few seasons after beating then-No. 7 Arizona State 35-27 last week in Corvallis. It was the Beavers' first win over a ranked team since consecutive wins over Wisconsin and UCLA to open the 2012 season.
Washington is on the opposite end of the spectrum after its late collapse at Arizona and the debate that followed over the handling of the final minutes by coach Chris Petersen when it appeared the Huskies could essentially run out the clock. Instead, the Huskies ran a play, Cooper fumbled and the Wildcats kicked a field goal on the final play for a 27-26 victory.
The fallout has led to fans questioning Petersen and expressing frustration that the Huskies aren't better than a six-win team at this point.
''It's painful. They're all painful,'' Petersen said. ''I feel really bad, but I feel like this is how it should be when kids play this hard. When they play that hard and you have chances to win and you really in some ways deserve to win, and you don't, it really hurts.''
Here's what else to watch as the Beavers and Huskies play for the 99th time:
NO WARD: The Beavers will be without running back Terron Ward after he suffered a torn meniscus against Arizona State. Ward was not in pain and ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns in the upset of the Sun Devils, but a precautionary MRI revealed the injury. Ward led the Beavers with 696 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
''He will be missed. He brings a special toughness to our team, too, that we'll miss,'' Riley said.
WASHINGTON'S EMERGENCE: Lost in the fallout from the Huskies' loss was a standout performance from running back Dwayne Washington. The sophomore had 148 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona after not topping 58 yards in any other game this season.
PROTECTION UP FRONT: Oregon State ranks 11th in the Pac-12 in sacks allowed with 30. Most of those came early in the season and Riley has been pleased with the continuity of the Beavers offensive line in the past few weeks. But they'll be facing one of the top pass rushes in the country against the Huskies. Defensive end/linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha is still tied for the national lead in sacks despite missing three quarters against UCLA with an injury and being shut out last week against Arizona.
DEFENSIVE HEALTH: Oregon State could have starting defensive tackle Jalen Grimble back for the first time since he suffered a knee injury on Sept. 27 against USC. Grimble had started three of the first four games before getting hurt. Starting cornerback Steven Nelson should also be able to play against the Huskies.