(CORVALLIS)—The halftime score was 21-17, Stanford over Oregon State, and the Beavers were set to get the second-half kickoff. However, the Cardinal simply turned out to be too strong and too experienced for the home team tonight at Reser Stadium, cruising in the second half to a 42-24 victory that demonstrated the true gap between the best in the Pac-12 Conference … and the youngest.
We know the Beavers have a young team, and it showed again in the second half of this game. A few missed tackles here and there, and Stanford was able to run at will in the second half against Oregon State. That proved costly, as the Cardinal ran for 325 yards. The poor tackling was evident as Stanford players repeatedly shrugged off first contact to ramble downfield easily. This was most on display with the final score of the game: Cardinal running back Barry Sanders, Jr. ran for a 65-yard touchdown just one play after the Beavers scored to close the gap to 35-24 in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter.
Sanders looked a lot like his dad with his ability to run through attempted tackles, and the Oregon State defense was left wondering what the heck just happened to them. However, that was just the culmination of the evening, because Stanford certainly didn’t go down easy when hit tonight.
Dumb penalties also hurt the Beavers, as they committed six penalties for 65 yards—including two punt-return interference calls that were totally unnecessary. Giving Stanford free yards didn’t help a tired defense that gave up 7.9 yards per play. You just can’t win giving up those kinds of gains.
Another big mistake: Taking that second-half kickoff, Oregon State fumbled on the second play, and even though Stanford didn’t convert the scoring opportunity, it was a symbolic moment. With the chance to take the lead, the Beavers couldn’t overcome their own inexperience. The Cardinal went on to score two TDs in the third quarter to effectively end the game early; it’s almost as if the Oregon State squad accepted it, too. Yes, the Beavers still showed some fight, but they knew they were done.
That happened in the Michigan game, too, where big mistakes before halftime buried the team’s confidence. Tonight’s third-quarter miscue somewhat did the same thing. Young teams get punched in the gut some times, and they often can’t respond—they don’t know how yet, but eventually this team will learn. Oregon State has too much talent not to learn and grow and get better.
For now, though, the Beavers are 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-12. Quarterback Seth Collins actually had a decent game throwing the ball, and he will have to build on that. Oregon State couldn’t run too successfully against the Stanford defense (36 carries, 111 yards), so Collins had to air it out. Posting a 20-for-36 line with 275 yards in the air, he tossed one TD and didn’t throw any interceptions. The effort should give him confidence down the line as the season progresses.
Collins is at his best when rolling out and deciding whether to run or throw. His dropback-pass presence in the pocket needs work, and as a freshman, he has plenty of time to develop. The Beavers will go as far as he takes them in 2015, and tonight was a solid step forward in terms of his passing prowess.