Season Report Card: Oregon State Beavers
Instead, most will recall the five straight losses to end the year. But that's not really fair when you look at the schedule and consider the competition.
Heading into the season, no one thought that Mike Riley's team was going to roll through Pac-12 competition and play in the Rose Bowl. So when you factor that the final five games of the season were against Stanford, USC, Arizona State, Washington, and Oregon, you quickly realize that the Beavers weren't expected to win those games. Every team on that list finished with at least nine wins.
So let's not discount Oregon State on a fine season just based on how it finished. It was competitive in all of those games other than the 69-27 disaster against the Huskies.
With that in mind, let's look at the season as a whole, and hand out grades for the Beavers:
The offensive side of the ball wasn't a problem for Oregon State, as it managed to compile 467 yards of total offense per game (good for 26th in the nation). That effort was led in large part by junior quarterback Sean Mannion, who threw for 37 touchdowns and helped the Beavers have the third-best passing attack in the country. Junior wide receiver Brandin Cooks was Mannion's favorite target, going for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. The running game was non-existent, but that's because the offense ran through Mannion and the passing game.
The Oregon State defense was a bit of a different story. The Beavers gave up 30 points or more in seven of their 12 regular season contests, so that wasn't ideal. They faced plenty of high-powered offenses throughout the year, and it was a struggle to try and slow these types of teams down. Safety Tyrequek Zimmerman was the team leader in total tackles with 104.
Riley could only do so much considering the gauntlet of top Pac-12 teams that the Beavers faced during the stretch run of the season. The 6-1 start was nothing to scoff at, and at least Oregon State was competitive despite losing its final five games during the regular season. Riley had this team in a position to knock off conference powers Stanford and Oregon, but a couple of plays turned things the other way.
It's hard to be all that harsh to the Beavers. They beat the teams they were supposed to beat (aside from the season opening loss to FCS Eastern Washington), and kept things interesting in most of the games where they played the underdog role. The game against Washington was a complete disaster, but other than that, finishing the year on a high note with a bowl win over Boise State at least gives this team some momentum heading into the 2014 season.
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