The Butler did it on defense for OSU
EL PASO — Early in the fourth quarter of the 75th Brut Sun Bowl and with Oregon State clinging to a 3-0 lead, Pitt made its bid to get back in the game.
Instead, in a scene that summed up the game, Victor Butler slammed the door, or perhaps more accurately, broke it over the Panthers' head. With Pitt on the Beaver 37-yard line following a big punt return, Butler sacked Bill Stull, stripped the ball, recovered it and, less than an hour later, walked away with the C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player Trophy.
"I took it on myself," Butler said. "I said I want to be the guy to make a play."
Butler's turnover was the stamp on an outstanding defensive effort that helped atone for the 694 yards and 68 points Oregon State gave up to Oregon in its regular-season finale.
"The word in the locker room was 'redemption,'" said Butler. Oregon "was a fluke. We didn't come to play, a lot of guys weren't there. It's sad we went out that way. ...
"A game like that leaves a sour taste in your mouth. With that much time between games, that taste is in your mouth a long time, and we didn't like it."
JERSEY TAX: Oregon State, the designated visiting team, chose to wear its home orange jerseys. In a seldom-used rule, the Beavers had to pay for it with a timeout to start the game, thus beginning the first half with two timeouts.
USC made the same decision in its game with UCLA this year.
Pitt wore its home blue jerseys, so neither team was in white.
WANNSTEDT'S DECISION: Pitt's final good chance to score came with 2:02 remaining when the Panthers reached the Oregon State 40 and faced fourth down. From there, coach Dave Wannstedt had a decision that he felt typified the type of game the Sun Bowl had become.
"I thought it summed up the game that on fourth-and-eight, I was more confident kicking a 57-yard field goal than going for" it, Wannstedt said. "I did not feel — we were 2 of 15 on third down — at that point we could make it."
Conor Lee's attempt was close to being long enough but was wide right.
NOTHING TO SHOW: OSU strung together a remarkable but ultimately pointless drive at the end of the first half. Taking over at their own 29-yard line with 1:22 remaining, OSU squeezed off 13 plays, using just one timeout, and moved 62 yards to the 9 before Moevao threw a third-down interception to Scott McKillop.
The play before that, a strike to John Reese in the back corner of the end zone with 10 seconds left was ruled out of bounds and held up on review.
That drive accounted for four of the Beavers' 10 first-half first downs and almost a third of their 192 first-half yards.
NOTABLE: Oregon State's last shutout was a 38-0 victory against Idaho on Sept. 23, 2006. The last time Pitt was shut out was a 24-0 loss to Connecticut on Dec. 12, 2005. This was the second lowest scoring Sun Bowl, as Arizona State and Catholic University of Washington, D.C., played to a scoreless tie on Jan. 1, 1940 ... The last Division I-A bowl game with three points or fewer was a 0-0 tie between Air Force and TCU in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1959.
MORE BOWLING: Oregon State offensive tackle Andy Levitre and cornerback Keenan Lewis have both accepted invitations to the Under Armour Senior Bowl. The game will be played Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala.
Bret Bloomquist covers college football for the El Paso Times. Reach him at email@example.com