Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Instant analysis: BYU 44, Oregon State 20
By ESPN.com staff
This one goes to the Mountain West Conference. Big.
Nothing went right for Oregon State in a 44-20 loss to a BYU team that, after a slow start, executed to perfection.
A Civil War hangover for the Beavers? No question. Is that an excuse? Nope. BYU dominated every aspect of the game.
Mike Riley's bowl record is now 5-1. Jacquizz Rodgers lost the first fumble of his career. Quarterback Sean Canfield and receiver James Rodgers posted their worst games of the year.
Nothing went right for the Beavers.
How the game was won: BYU had a great plan and played with fire all night. Oregon State had no answers and looked lethargic much of the night. Oregon State's expected speed advantage? The Cougars played faster.
Turning point: After BYU tied the game 7-7 on a 14-play, 84-yard drive, the Beavers took over at their 40-yard line. But on second down, Jacquizz Rodgers couldn't handle a backwards pass from Canfield, and Matt Bauman returned the loose ball 34 yards for a touchdown. That was the first moment of a game transformation that completely went the Cougars way.
Unsung hero of the game: The wind. There is no reason to believe BYU should be better playing in high winds than Oregon State. But the Cougars, particularly quarterback Max Hall, seemed to deal with the wind -- reports said they were blowing over 40 mph throughout the game -- far better than Canfield and the Beavers.
Unsung hero of the game II: Physical play in the secondary. With nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Beavers scored their second touchdown, a drive helped by consecutive pass interference penalties. Both were obvious calls, yet the BYU players -- and fans -- seemed confused because that sort of play was allowed much of the night. The Beavers never got their passing game on track and dropped passes were the primary problem, but the officiating crew allowed far more contact from the BYU secondary than is typically permitted in Pac-10 play.
Second guessing: Riley is unquestionably a great coach, and he's got a great staff, but BYU won the coaching battle decisively. The Beavers offensive play calling never seemed in sync, the defense looked on its heels most of the night, while it was curious that Beavers punter Johnny Hekker never was told that he should use a rugby-style kick because any boot into their air would practically go backwards because of the wind.
What it means: Probably not too much. It means the Beavers ended their season with a thud, which likely will drop their 2010 preseason ranking. But Oregon State isn't going anywhere. If they figure out a way to replace Canfield, 19 starters are slated to return in 2010 and the Beavers will again be in the thick in the Pac-10 race.