Oregon State is going to the Rose Bowl tonight. Since the adoption of the Pac-12 9 game schedule rotation, it’s something every Northern Division school gets to do once in every 4 year schedule block.
Additional trips are possible, at least for schools not named Oregon State or California, though it was just 7 & 8 years ago that the Beavers were a play or two, never mind a game, away from earning an extra trip in back to back seasons.
So it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of, one at least some, and probably all, of the players won’t experience again, unless the increasing number of freshmen playing really do succeed in completely turning the program around.
At this point, getting a road win for the first time in over 2 years, in their last opportunity to do so for the season, would be a good place to start, and a better goal.
Being double digit road dogs means that continues to be a goal unlikely to be accomplished, but being only 12 point underdogs means the Beavers are expected to come a little closer.
How much of that is in recognition of the continued level of effort, and some bright spots among the freshmen, and how much is the absence for the season after surgery of UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, who cut the Oregon State defense to pieces in a downpour last year at Reser, and the even more glaring absence of a Bruin rushing attack, which is averaging less than a yard per carry, is up for debate, but it does seem unlikely things will go as dismally as they did last year for the Beavers.
The decision to split time at quarterback between Marcus McMaryion, who will start, and Conor Blount, means Oregon State actually has a healthy option other than to put Seth Collins behind center. Absent an injury, which is no sure thing, given the UCLA defense is actually pretty good, 3rd ranked in the conference, and pretty active, whether that actually improves the chance of a win remains to be seen, and debated.
Ditto with the decision to replace Garrett Owens, who has missed 5 of his last 6 field goal attempts, with redshirt freshman Jordan Choukair for field goals, but not PATs. (What does it really say about the status of the situation when platooning placekickers becomes a lead story?)
It’s been announced that Ryan Nall will play, but how much, and how well, also remains to be seen, though that’s still a better prognosis than earlier in the week.
Gus Lavaka, Hunter Jarmon, and a host of others won’t though.
UCLA fans, preoccupied with figuring out whether they should fire their head coach Jim Mora, who went from the coach that won more games in a 4 year period than any other Bruin coach ever to a series of 1 score losses that has left them with the same conference record as Oregon State, couldn’t care less, of course.
The Bruin saga has its own twists and turns, some self-inflicted, some the result of a competitive conference, not unlike the situation at Oregon State.
Indeed, what few Oregon State fans made the trip will have trouble recognizing the Bruins, and not just because of their alternate uniforms and helmets in use tonight in their Veterans’ Day weekend salute to the military.
Someone will actually win at some point tonight. How close to the end of the game that happens is one of the points of intrigue.
Another will be how bad the backlog for wireless and phone traffic will be, with the first half of the game overlapping the end of the USC-Washington game, which is suddenly back as the conference game of the year, and the second half with the scoreboard fire that could result in Pullman where California takes on Washington State (Remember the 60-59 defensive battle the last time the Bears and Cougars met up in Martin Stadium?), where there may be exchanges of possessions that exceed the total offensive production of the Beavers-Bruins game.
But it’s the #Pac12LongAfterDark, and in November, and there’s sure to be a surprise at some point that no one east of Denver will see. Let’s see if the Beavers can create one of them, preferably a positive one.
That might make their rare visit to the Rose Bowl actually memorable.