It may not have been pretty, but the Oregon State Beavers were able to improve to 4-0 with their 19-6 victory against Washington State on Saturday.
SB Nation's Oregon State blog, Building the Dam, acknowledged it may not have been the Beavers' best performance of the season, but they were still happy to come away with the victory.
This was not OSU's best game of the season, but it is nice to know OSU can put in a bad performance and still feel in control against poor teams.
The OSU defense was stout against the Cougars, but the Beaver offense struggled. After playing well during the first three games Sean Mannion had what Building the Dam called "possibly his worst game of the season." While Mannion struggled, the defense picked him up, led by Jordan Poyer.
Jordan Poyer was the clear cut player of the game with three interceptions. I can't figure out why quarterbacks would choose to throw his way, especially on quick throws which happened twice.
The game may not have won Oregon State any style points, but as one reader said, "that was an ugly win, but hey as they say a win is a win."
When Mike Leach arrived at Washington State, many expected the Cougars to have a high-scoring offense this season. On Saturday against Oregon State the offense struggled, scoring just six points, but the defense was surprisingly strong.
Over at CougCenter, SB Nation's WSU blog, Jeff Nusser praised the defense for the strong showing which proved to be true from both a visual and statistical standpoint.
4.51 - Yards per play allowed by the defense. It obviously felt like the defense was having a very good day, and this more or less confirms it. While yards per play isn't a tell-all stat, it's a nice rudimentary indicator of offensive and defensive effectiveness.
The loss was a big blow for the Cougars' bowl hopes, but as Nusser noted, it was another positive development for the defense.
It's exciting to see the defense build off of what was, at times, a very strong performance against Oregon the week before.
While the defensive performance was encouraging, the quarterback play was a major issue for the Cougars. Starter Connor Halliday threw three interceptions while backup Jeff Tuel came in to throw one of his own. Interceptions have been a problem for Halliday this season as Nusser noted.
I don't really have a whole lot of other insight to offer, other than to say that if you were of the opinion that Halliday's interceptions weren't that bad, they really are. And if you were of the opinion that it really was that bad, well, it is.
The Cougar defense will look to continue it's strong play when WSU hosts California on Saturday. Whether or not WSU quarterbacks can avoid costly interceptions remains to be seen.
With the Cougars failing to convert on an opportunity to make it a three-point game in the closing stages, Oregon State took the ball on a 12-play drive to put the game away at 19-6. Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion was on point, leading the 86-yard scoring drive by throwing 5-of-7 for 66 yards. The drive was finished with a 1-yard dive by Tyler Anderson.
That score came just after Washington State drove 72 yards and deep into Beaver territory. But at the 15-yard line, Jeff Tuel threw two incomplete passes, and the Cougars settled for a field goal, making it just 13-6. Tuel entered in the second half to replace Connor Halliday, who was largely ineffective.
Mannion finished the day going 24-41 for 250 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions, as the Beavers outgained the Cougars, 377-254.
Box Score Hero: Cornerback Jordan Poyer, Oregon State. The dynamic corner and return man nabbed three interceptions on the afternoon, doing his part to keep Washington State off the board.
Rankings Ramifications: While the performance itself wouldn't necessarily merit upward movement, a few teams ahead of Oregon State have fallen (namely TCU), so the Beavers should move up at least a little.
But Did They Cover? Oregon State was favored by 15 and did not cover.
The Oregon State Beavers and Washington State Cougars traded field goals in the second quarter in Corvallis, giving the Beavers a 6-3 halftime lead.
Oregon State appeared to be headed to take a larger lead late in the quarter when Anthony Watkins intercepted Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday and returned it all the way to the WSU 19-yard line. But Oregon State could not convert it into a touchdown, as Sean Mannion had several passes batted down at the line. Trevor Romaine put through a 24-yard field goal for the 6-3 lead.
The Watkins interception came just after WSU defensive lineman Ioane Gauta picked off a Mannion pass and got the Cougars well into Oregon State territory. But Halliday returned the favor two plays later.
Washington State kicker Andrew Furney hit on a 24-yard field goal of his own earlier in the second quarter to get the Cougars on the board.
Overall, Oregon State leads in total yards 140-122, and the teams have already combined for five turnovers.
The Oregon State Beavers lead the Washington State Cougars, 3-0, after one quarter of play at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. OSU has dominated the game, driving the ball down the field with ease. The Cougar defense has held near the redzone to keep the score close.
The Beavers got on the board in their first possession, driving 41 yards in six plays. Trevor Romaine knocked in the 30-yard field goal to start the scoring.
The Washington State offense has struggled to get anything going. Quarterback Connor Halliday has been off on many of his passes. He threw an interception on WSU's second drive. That interception set up the Beavers deep in WSU territory, but the Cougar defense held on fourth down and OSU didn't add to its lead.
The WSU defense made big play near the end of the first. With the Beavers driving, Deone Bucannon intercepted Sean Mannion to end another Oregon State drive in Cougar territory. WSU converted a third down to maintain possession on the ensuing drive and has the ball on its own 16, facing a 2nd and 7 to begin the second quarter.