Trevor Romaine’s opening kickoff soared 65 yards through the chilly night air.
That proved to be the high-water mark for Oregon State Saturday night.
Finding silver linings after the Beavers were bludgeoned, 69-27, at Reser Stadium against a formerly struggling Washington team is a nearly impossible task.
Oregon State did not just lose.
No. The Beavers were undressed on national television against a middling Huskies team led by a freshman quarterback making his first-ever start.
The 42-point margin made for the worst OSU home loss since it lost to Washington, 58-6, in 1991.
That was during an era of football most Beaver fans would just as soon forget. Yet as Reser Stadium emptied in the second half to just a few by game’s end, it was hard not to be reminded of those lean times.
Tough to find an excuse for that. Not when Oregon State still had so much to play for, what with an Oregon loss earlier in the day that made second place in the Pac-12 North a possibility.
What was clear Saturday is that the Beavers are an undeniably flawed team with an inconsistent quarterback, a nonexistent run game and a defense that collapsed under the weight of it all.
The box score does tell part of the story.
Washington racked up 693 yards of total offense, 521 yards of which came on the ground. Meanwhile, Oregon State sputtered for 414 yards, most of them meaningless gains when the game was out of hand, and just 106 yards rushing.
Sean Mannion, who has regressed in each game of the Beavers’ current four-game skid, threw three interceptions and completed just 21 of 40 passes for 229 yards and a score. By comparison, Husky freshman Cyler Miles completed 15 of 24 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. Most importantly, he did not throw an interception.
Oregon State’s lone momentum-switching play — an impossibly athletic 86-yard touchdown reception by Brandin Cooks in the opening moments of the third quarter — was reduced to a 12-yard gain after a review showed that Cooks stepped out of bounds.
No surprise the Beaver drive was snuffed out from there. This is now that kind of season.
In hindsight, Oregon State’s troubles were made clear before a seat in the house was warm.
With the potential to climb from the lower-half of the conference, OSU appeared void of emotion, at least compared with Washington.
The Huskies, who were in much the same mediocre predicament as the Beavers heading into the game, danced as they awaited the opening kickoff while their sideline bounced with enthusiasm. John Ross returned that opening kick to OSU’s 38, Sankey scored his first touchdown seven plays later, and the emotion of the Washington bench boiled over.
To understand just how dominant the Huskies were, consider this: Washington running back Bishop Sankey’s 4-yard run in his first attempt of the game was five more yards than Oregon State would net in the entire first half.
Sankey’s 158 first-half yards (he finished with 179 yards and three scores) were 35 more yards than the entire Beaver offense tallied in the first 30 minutes. And it took Oregon State until the late moments of the third quarter to finally surpass Sankey’s first rushing attempt.
After 11 games, Oregon State still cannot run the ball. And it has cost the Beavers dearly.
Up next for the Beavers is the Civil War, a game that looked winnable for OSU earlier in the day when Oregon was trounced by Arizona.
Well, Oregon State was dismantled in an even more alarming fashion. Now it looks like that unless something changes dramatically in six days, the Beavers could be little more than a speedbump for the Ducks.
This season’s collapse makes clear that the Beavers need to rethink their approach, and that goes far beyond calling backup quarterback Cody Vaz’s number.
Something is wrong when a team like Oregon State, with plenty still to play for, shows up and apparently plays without passion. In fact, worse yet, the Beavers appeared to give up Saturday night. And judging by the rows of empty bleachers in Reser Stadium at game’s end, their fans returned the favor.
What can be a worse indictment for a football team?
Cooks set the Oregon State record for receiving yards in a season, breaking Mike Hass’ record of 1,532 yards set in 2005. That is worth celebrating.
Only one other bright spot comes to mind.
After the Beaver fans exited en masse by halftime, traffic was a breeze leaving the stadium once the game ended.
Unfortunately for Oregon State, that is not the road it had hoped to travel.
— Reporter: 541-617-7868, firstname.lastname@example.org.