CORVALLIS — Jordan Poyer went to bed Friday night thinking about the opportunity at hand on Saturday afternoon.
The entire varsity team of his alma mater, Astoria High, including his younger brother, Jeremy, would be at Reser Stadium to watch the Beavers take on Washington State in a Pac-12 Conference battle.
When Poyer woke up Saturday morning, he knew he was in for something special.
And boy did he deliver.
Poyer had three interceptions, including one late in the fourth quarter that sealed Oregon State's 19-6 victory over the Cougars in front of a Reser Stadium record crowd of 46,579.
"I woke up this morning and it was just something that you feel," Poyer said. "Had my high school team come to the field today, my parents. Reser Stadium was sold out. It was just something you feel you want to be out there making those plays. God put me in the right position to make plays and I did."
He nearly put the exclamation point on the first three-interception game of his career by returning the last one for a touchdown.
But he came up just a bit short.
"I saw the ball in the air and I knew I was going to pick it and I knew the game was going to be over," Poyer said. "As soon as I picked it, I just saw green in front of me and started running. My legs got a little heavy and I tried to make a move inside and that turf monster got me. I was happy we won the game."
Poyer tried to downplay his performance, saying "I was seeing the field really well. The plays were there to be made and I made them. Nothing out of the ordinary. I was just making plays."
His teammates didn't let him off that easy; they knew his game was special.
"Just a beast performance," said defensive end Scott Crichton, who had a pretty impressive game himself with three sacks. "That's a superstar right there. He carried us as a defense and it was really amazing."
Coach Mike Riley knows the type of player he has. And Poyer showed why he is on the watch list for numerous national awards.
"He's a terrific, terrific player as far as instincts and getting in position, and then he's got great ball skills so he makes plays on you," Riley said.
It's a good thing, too, as the Beavers struggled to put the Cougars away on Saturday. But having the pressure on the defense is the way Poyer and his teammates want it.
"You come into every game thinking the defense is going to have to win you the game," Poyer said. "That's part of playing defense. I felt like we did OK. There's still some plays we left out there on the field. (I'm) still getting used to that nickel position and they caught some seven routes (corner routes). I've got to get that and understand the situation and understand where I'm looking at and it will come."
The Beavers had four total interceptions and recovered a fumble. The pass defense, which entered the game allowing close to 316 yards a game, gave up just 207 yards in the air to a Cougars team that entered averaging 333 a game. Take away three big pass plays of 51, 49 and 28 yards, and that is just 79 yards on 17 completed passes.
"Every week, I'm always reading stuff, people still doubting us and people talking about the secondary," Poyer said. "We take it personally. We come in every week and every week is going to be a challenge for us. ... We are 11th or 12 in passing defense (in the conference) and that's something we definitely want to improve on and something we can improve on.
"We have the talent to do it, it's just a matter of getting our eyes right and making the plays when they're there to be made and today I thought everyone did an excellent job of making plays."
None more than Poyer.
It certainly helped that he had some added motivation to perform in front of some of his biggest supporters.
"That was something I really took into account when I went to sleep last night," Poyer said. "These guys come out here and support me, and my coaches, everybody from my town always supporting me. I want to do it for them and show them it's possible. I came from a small high school and not a lot of people have gone to play college out of there."
Maybe none more than his younger brother.
"As much as he probably doesn't know, I look up to him a lot," Poyer said of Jeremy. "He probably goes through a lot of crap being my little brother but he handles it pretty well."