Beaver Nation collectively came into Saturday night’s homecoming contest encouraged by recent relative success, and if not expecting a homecoming win for the first time in years, they at least thought a competitive effort, at least for a while, was a reasonable to hope for possibility.
The 15th ranked Utah Utes quickly gave Oregon State a dose of reality, and then proceeded for 3 1/4 hours to drive the point home that the Beavers are still a long way from being big enough, strong enough, fast enough, deep enough, well coached enough, or experienced enough.
It was 21-0 before the end of the 1st quarter, 35-0 at halftime, and 49-0 well before the end of the 3rd quarter, on the way to 52-0 before a Beaver score 56 seconds before the end produced the 52-7 blowout that is one of the 6th worst losses Oregon State has suffered in their history at Parker/Reser Stadium.
Everyone knew Oregon State wouldn’t be able to run the ball against the massive Utah front and the several future NFL players that are a part of it, so the 48 yards rushing, and that Artavis Pierce, above, managed only 21 yards on 10 carries wasn’t a surprise.
But there was some thought that the Beavers could get something accomplished through the air. And Isaiah Hodgins, above, did have a game high 8 catches, though for only 77 yards. The lack of any other serious receiving threats though, was why Oregon State couldn’t get anything significant going through the air, compared to USC, the one team that has beat Utah. The Trojans don’t have any threat significantly more dangerous than Hodgins, but they do have 3 of them on the field at once most of the time that are all as much of a threat as Hodgins. Utah was able to negate all other threats.
Jake Luton only completed half his passes, and for just 131 yards. One of the numerous pass deflections the Utes were able to cause, by Bradlee Anae, turned into Luton’s first interception of the season, and a 64 yard return for a touchdown by Devin Lloyd, below, 3 minutes into the 2nd quarter.
It snapped the longest streak of passes in the country without an interception, and left Luton 1 shy of Matt Moore’s school record.
The Beaver defense gave up over 500 yards, and it was close to evenly spread, with the Utes throwing for 247, as Tyler Hundley completed 14 of his 17 throws, and running for 256, including 121, and 2 touchdowns, by Zach Moss.
That included a 91 yard touchdown run on Utah’s 2nd possession, which is the longest scoring run against Oregon State ever at Parker/Reser, or at Bell Field.
But the defense did tighten up as the game went along; Utah was on pace for over 1,000 yards in the game after the first quarter. That is not a mis-print. The Utes were still on track for well over 600 at halftime, and the projected total barely dropped below that by the end of the 3rd quarter.
“Tonight, we took two steps backward,” Coach Jonathan Smith said post-game.
And it really wasn’t that close.
Oregon State’s on-again, off again offense was off again, and went 3 and out 3 drives in a row to start the second half, and also on the game’s opening drive.
The Beaver defense was unable to scheme to take anything away from the Utes, and was outmanned even when they were in position, consistently getting run over or run away from.
And OSU special teams were also a mis-adventure, as field goals were even un-attainable, as both Jordan Choukair and Everett Hayes missed wide on attempts that were within range.
The majority of the about 25 thousand that actually used part of the 31,730 tickets distributed, fewest for Homecoming since the Reser expansion, didn’t return after halftime, and by the middle of the 4th quarter, there weren’t 2.000 people left in the building.
The Beavers fell to 2-4, and 1-2 in conference, while the Utes improved to 5-1, and 2-1.
Oregon State will hit the road this week, heading to Berkeley, where another defense arguably on plane with Utah’s awaits in Strawberry Canyon. Fortunately for the Beavers, California’s offense is not comparable with the Utes’, and less so following the loss of starting quarterback Chase Garbers.
But the Bears, who applied the worst beating of the Pac-12 season last year to the Beavers, will be well rested, coming off a bye after a Friday night home game.
It will be interesting to see what Oregon State can do in the short run to mitigate problems that realistically will take at least a couple more recruiting classes to actually solve.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)