It was close for a half, and Oregon State led initially, and 3 different times during the early going. Colorado State took only a 4 point, 24-20 lead to the locker room, after Jordan Choukair connected on a 25 yard field goal as time ran out to cap a 9 play, 73 yard drive.
The Beavers got Ryan Nall going early, both in the rushing game, and the passing game, and the wrecking Nall finished with 115 yards on 15 carries, including a 75 yard touchdown, and another 4 catches for 30 yards.
Oregon State out-passed and out-rushed Colorado State in the first half.
Given that much information, most Beaver Believers, including head Coach Gary Andersen not only would have taken it, but felt pretty good about the Beavers chances.
That’s when Oregon State’s Pac-12 depth and experience, and the effects of the constant battering by not only Nall, but also Artavis Pierce and Thomas Tyner, was supposed to take over the game.
Instead it was Colorado State that made the halftime adjustments, and their Big Sky talent that wore down and beat up the Beavers, and set the stage for the Rams to pull away to a 58-27 blowout win in the 90+ degree heat to christen their brand new on-campus stadium, in the first football game played on campus in Fort Collins in 49 years.
Nall’s 75 yard run was the biggest single play of the game, but the most important one of the first half came shortly thereafter, when the Rams’ Josh Watson laid a huge hit on the Beavers’ Trevon Bradford, forcing a fumble that Colorado State converted into a game tieing field goal. More importantly, it began to swing the momentum.
It looked like Oregon State would tie the game just before the break, answering a Colorado State scoring drive, when Jake Luton connected with Bradford for a 34 yard completion down to the Ram 7 yard line, with 13 seconds and 2 time outs left.
But Oregon State’s red-zone offensive struggles re-emerged, and the Beavers got only 1 play off, which turned into a way too long Luton scramble, forcing Oregon State to settle for a field goal when the apparent touchdown catch by Noah Togiai, above, was ruled incomplete.
The play that might have been the back-breaker for the Beavers came in the 3rd quarter, when Luton missed a read of the Ram defense, and instead of recognizing an available wide open seam route that would have at a minimum put Oregon State deep in Colorado State territory that opened up when the Rams collapsed to the middle out of a soft double on the Beavers’ slot receiver.
Instead of capitalizing on a mismatch, Luton forced a pass into a crossing route that had worked previously, and it turned into a 44 yard pick-6 by the Rams’ Tre Thomas, below.
Instead of being in position to possibly tie the game back up, Oregon State found themselves 2 touchdowns down, and shortly thereafter, down 3 scores 3 plays into the 4th quarter.
Colorado State was on the verge of the knock-out punch moments later, after a 53 yard punt return by Olabisi Johnson that would have had a horse-collar penalty tacked onto it. But an illegal block negated the entire play, and on the re-kick, Johnson mishandled the kick, and Andre Bodden swooped by to snag the ball for the Beavers.
Three plays later, Luton connected with Togiai for a 25 yard touchdown, above, that stood, and instead of being down 24, it was suddenly just a 10 point game, and with just under 12 minutes still to play.
Colorado State responded with 3 consecutive touchdown drives, and when the Rams weren’t working out Cam The Ram with all of his cross-endzone runs after each score, the Ram defense was coming up with a pair of turnovers, their 4th and 5th takeaways of the game.
The Beavers made some plays, especially early, and put up some numbers.
Jordan Villamin, above, had 7 catches for a team high 77 yards, and Togiai also had 7 catches, for 67 yards. Timmy Hernandez filled in for the injured Seth Collins with a pair of catches, including a 39 yard touchdown catch, below.
But it was only a matter of time before a combination of at times wildly inaccurate passing (Luton completed only 57% of his throws, completing just 27 of 47, and with more interceptions, 3, than touchdowns, 2, and on numerous occasions not only missed open receivers, but missed them by 5-10 yards), poor overall ball security, and a defense that as is currently being played, with the players available, is fundamentally unsound, caught up with the Beavers.
Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens, above, completed 67% of his passes, 26 of 39, for 334 yards, 30 more than Luton threw for. Michael Gallup grabbed 11 of those completions, for 134 yards.
Colorado State also used a stable of Rams to collectively out-rush Oregon State 191 yards to 152.
The Oregon State defense got burned several times with corners in man coverage, but also got caught with bad matchups with safeties and linebackers in coverage. But the biggest problem is the current 3-4 look, where the inside linebackers are either unable or otherwise dissuaded from lateral movement outside, leaving a single player attempting to play both defensive end and linebacker, which in turn left a lot of green space, usually quickly filled by a green jerseyed Ram. It’s a scheme that cannot match-up on the edge.
The interior defense also took a couple of big blows, as Elu Aydon was on crutches by halftime, with ice on his left knee, and Titus Failauga went down on the first drive of the third quarter. The full severity of the injuries won’t be known until the team returns to Corvallis, and team doctors take a closer look, but they used a piece of farm equipment to haul off Failauga, and that’s never a good sign.
Andersen continues to not have a road win as the Oregon State coach, and this was the 11th of 12 that ended in a blowout, as the Beavers’ road losing streak has now stretched to 15 games.
“Embarassing,” was Andersen assessment. “It’s going to take a long time to go back and look at that tape and try to get an idea of where we are as a coaching staff.”
It may not get much easier, as next week’s opponent in the Beavers’ home opener back at Reser, FCS Portland State hung with BYU all day, losing just 20-6 in Provo, after the Cougars got a couple of 4th quarter field goals.
Meanwhile, Colorado State heads to Denver next, for the Rocky Mountain Rumble showdown Friday night with Colorado at Sports Authority Field. That should be a very interesting game.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)