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MailTribune.com
  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Beavers will stay true to form

    Loss by Oregon last week won't alter how OSU approaches the big game
  • CORVALLIS — As the Oregon Ducks were crushing their first 10 opponents by an average score of 55-22, there was an aura of invincibility surrounding the team.
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  • CORVALLIS — As the Oregon Ducks were crushing their first 10 opponents by an average score of 55-22, there was an aura of invincibility surrounding the team.
    On Saturday night, Stanford booted that aura through the uprights at Autzen Stadium in a shock heard round the college football world, especially in SEC country.
    But did the Beavers feel it?
    Did Oregon's loss increase the Beavers' belief in themselves that they had a very real shot at beating the Ducks in Saturday's Civil War, having seen it done?
    "I really don't like to get into those kinds of feelings, I really don't,'' OSU coach Mike Riley said. "We have to look at it realistically, what we see, what we have to defend, what we have to try to attack offensively.''
    Of course, no player would admit that an Oregon loss could embolden his team. That would be admitting that there was some doubt in the first place.
    There are the tangibles Oregon State can take from Stanford's win: Exactly how Stanford was able to stymie the Ducks.
    So the Beavers can study that and be better prepared and, therefore, more confident.
    "I told the team today, 'You've been practicing for big games all year — just practice like you do and get ready to go and respect the opponent by studying them.'" Riley said. "It's a simple formula if it's real.
    "That's the way we tried to make it, so when we get to this thing, we don't say, 'Oh, wow, now we're in a big game.'''
    No "oh wows,'' but maybe an "oh darn" or two, that somebody else got to knock off Oregon first.
    "It's always good to see that top team come down,'' linebacker D.J. Alexander said. "Yeah, I kind of wish it was us, but that's OK, we'll get them. We'll show up and play football and hopefully give them that second loss.''
    Defensive back Jordan Poyer has been here four years and hasn't beaten Oregon.
    "You always want to be the team to knock off the No. 1 team,'' Poyer said. "I feel that way with everybody.''
    The talk around town Monday was still of that slice of time Saturday night when one ball floated down into the hands of OSU receiver Brandin Cooks in Corvallis — at nearly the exact moment another ball, kicked by Stanford's Jordan Williamson, came down to earth in Eugene. Cooks turned it into a touchdown; Williamson's kick turned Oregon into a mere mortal.
    And it touched off wild celebrations throughout Alabama and Georgia, where fans of the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs saw their title hopes re-ignited.
    In Atlanta, the television audience for the Oregon-Stanford game reportedly quadrupled by overtime — nearly 300,000 homes were tuned in to the finish in Eugene, unheard of for any game on the West Coast.
    But an hour north, in Corvallis, a funny thing happened. Cooks' touchdown broke a 7-7 tie with California, and the Beavers went on to experience a game as rare as Oregon's loss: OSU had its first blowout win (62-14).
    Riley left many of his starters in until the Beavers had a 41-point lead, then he watched others get their first playing time.
    He mentioned former South Medford receiver Mitch Singler, who caught his first career pass, and quarterback Richie Harrington on offense and Lavonte Barnett, Akeem Gonzales, Brandon Bennett-Jackson, Joel Skotte, Jabral Johnson and Steven Christian on defense.
    "They all went in there and made plays,'' Riley said. "(Singler) got in the books, which is good. Richie was poised, even checked off on a play.''
    So maybe the belief isn't greater, or maybe it is. But there is a greater number of players who feel like they have contributed.
    And there was a greater number of media members streaming into the Truax practice facility Monday.
    Even on Civil War week, Riley keeps his open-door policy to the media and other public.
    "We know most all of you and most people that come to practice, and if we don't we'll check them out a little bit more, probably,'' Riley said. "I love having people come and watch.''
    Oregon and Oregon State fans may be chirping, and those in Alabama and Georgia may still be smiling. But at Oregon State football practice, it's business as usual.
    With Cody Vaz sitting out practice, his left ankle heavily taped, Riley said Sean Mannion will be his starting quarterback in the Civil War.
    "It's just an ankle sprain. As he feels better, he'll practice,'' Riley said of Vaz.
    Cooks, who took a shot to the head Saturday and sat out most of the Cal game, was a full go Monday.
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