Oregon manages to overcome their inept defensive and special teams performances to overcome a moribund Oregon State team, 52-42. This looked exactly as close as it was.
The Beavers have been able to run all year, and that's what they did on their opening drive. Marcus McMaryion and Seth Collins traded QB duties and drove easily down the field on a mix of QB runs, off tackle plays by Ryan Nall and the occasional trick reverse pass. Collins ran it in easily from 3 yards out on a huge hole up the center, and took the lead.
That would be the only lead they would have for the rest of the game. Their 75 yards were impressive; they would gain 21 for the rest of the half.
Oregon took a leisurely jaunt down the field for their opening drive and scored in just under 3 minutes. Highlights were a long pass to Dwayne Stanford and a 12-yard sweep by Bralon Addison that ended up being a reverse.
Oregon forced a three and out on the Beavers in the next drive and got the ball back with good field position, but after a great pass to Addison for 25 yards got them in field position they stalled, and the field goal was blocked. Oregon got it back almost immediately as Marcus McMaryion threw a perfect pass to Charles Nelson two plays later.
Oregon went again at a somewhat slower pace, going 48 yards in 7 plays and 2 minutes. This was marred a bit by false start penalties, but Oregon was able to get good yards early on thanks to some very nice running by Bralon Addison. Oregon finished the drive with Taj Griffin on a great outside run, forcing two players to miss and getting it in. 14-7 Oregon.
Oregon State got negative yards on the next drive, as they went run stuff for no gain, sack by Rodney Hardrick, and then incomplete. Oregon took almost 5 minutes off their next drive and went on good runs by Royce Freeman and passes to Jalen Brown and Dwayne Stanford - but bogged down in the red zone. Despite having first and goal from the 5, they lost yards on consecutive plays - including a bizarre tackle-eligible lateral run to Tyler Johnstone for a loss of 6 - and settled for a short field goal. 17-7, Oregon.
Oregon State managed to get a first down on the next drive thanks to Seth Collins running, but stalled again on a longer passing attempt and had to punt. Oregon got it back on their own 27.
Another long-time drive (4:39) had Oregon drive 73 yards in 10 plays. The big highlight this drive was a sweet pass to Kirk Merritt for 28 yards, though a lot of it got called back on a holding call against Tyler Crosby. Oregon once again pushed themselves back on a loss on a run and a false start in the red zone, but Royce Freeman was able to get a 14 yard easy pass and follow that up with a 3 yard run that pushed the entire Oregon State team into the end zone. 24-7, Oregon.
Oregon State did nothing again on their next drive, and Oregon used their timeouts to get the ball back at the Oregon 34 with 2:11 remaining. And then the jets went on. Oregon went 66 yards in 6 plays and 40 seconds, and the big play on this was a beautiful pass off of a 5 WR set where Bralon Addison had no one within 20 yards of him in the middle of the field. A 37 yard TD extended Oregon's pass TD streak to 80 consecutive games, and Oregon went into the locker room with a 31-7 lead.
The third quarter has been when Oregon typically puts games away. Instead, it was the start of one of the most atrociously bad set of plays Oregon has been a part of.
Oregon started with the ball and drove down the field quickly - overcoming a rare offensive PI call. Unfortunately Kirk Merritt fumbled at the 16, and Oregon State recovered. The fumble was somewhat iffy, but it was not challenged by anyone. Oregon State proceeded to march effortlessly down the field on a combination of Marcus McMaryion passes and Ryan Nall runs, but the highlight was Victor Bolden on a quick end around. The Beavers easily converted and made it 31-14. No problem, right?
Oregon then went 8 plays and 69 yards, but Oregon's red zone issues continued. Having it first and goal at the 10, Oregon couldn't cash in after a couple of Royce Freeman runs to the 6, and Oregon turned it over on downs. And then the wheels came off. Oregon State went 98 yards in only 8 plays almost entirely on the back of Ryan Nall, who looked as good as any running back Oregon has faced. Seth Collins ended the drive on a great run with a diving, athletic TD and the Beavers were within 10.
Oregon got a great return from Charles Nelson and went down quickly to answer, thanks to a great explosion by Royce Freeman on 4th and 1. Royce punched it in and made it 38-21.
Oregon's defense, however, had no answer.
At the beginning of the 4th the Beavers looked like they had all the answers, all the care, and all the momentum. They got two key penalties against the Oregon defense -a taunting call and a pass interference call - and used these drive extenders to run yet another QB run into the end zone, this time on Marcus McMaryion. 38-28.
Oregon then had a holding penalty negate a first down on the ensuing (onsides) kick, and could not convert 3rd and 26. On the punt, Victor Bolden effortlessly went through the porous Oregon special teams for another TD, and suddenly the game was within 3.
Oregon answered thanks to big Royce Freeman, Charles Nelson and Taj Griffin runs, and Vernon Adams converted this red zone opportunity with a great misdirection play to Bralon Addison - his 3rd TD of the game. 45-35 Oregon.
Oregon State, however, wouldn't give in. it only took two plays to easily score, this time on a 66 yard Ryan Nall TD run right up the middle where our linebackers were out of position and the safety help came late. Once again, the game was within 3 - 45-42.
Oregon had to answer again, as the defense showed almost no signs of being able to stop anything. And answer they did. After a bad loss by Taj Griffin, Vernon Adams showed great poise facing a 3 man rush and was able to hit Bralon Addison again (his 4th TD) after about 8 seconds of waiting. 52-42, Oregon.
Oregon State started strong with a good pass to Ryan Nall for 24 yards and Victor Bolden for another 13, but then they stalled. In particular, DeForest Buckner came up strong, beating a triple team and getting a sack on 1st down for a loss of 8 - and then three straight incompletes game Oregon the ball.
Oregon finishes the season with a 9-3 record and giving up more points than they have in their history. After this performance it is unlikely that a new years bowl awaits, but it is also likely that an Alamo Bowl is in their future. Bralon Addison was a crazy star, going for 4 TDs on running and passing. More points were scored in this game since the 65-38 2008 Civil War.
And many questions for the next season remain.