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Oregon State reflects on successful season

Oregon State toppled a top-ranked team for the first time since 1967 and saw the emergence of fearless freshman Jacquizz Rodgers. But the Rose Bowl eluded the Beavers.

The No. 24 Beavers capped a 9-4 season by defeating No. 18 Pittsburgh 3-0 in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. The lone score of the game came on Justin Kahut's 44-yard field goal.

Rodgers, known as Quizz, finished his impressive season by cheering from the sidelines with his brother James. Both had shoulder injuries.

Quizz couldn't play in Oregon State's final two games, but nonetheless rushed for 1,253 yards, a Pacific-10 Conference record for a freshman. He was the first freshman to be named the league's player of the year.

The 5-foot-7, 193-pound dynamo confounded opponents all season. He ran for 186 yards in the Beavers' upset victory over USC, considered one of the top rushing defenses in the nation.

"I've got great blockers, so it just makes my job a whole lot easier. But I didn't think I was going to have this much success because I was just going to play my role," Rodgers said.

Rodgers used his stature to his advantage. He hid behind his line and popped out on unprepared defenders. He used his brute strength — along with his utter fearlessness — to plow through opponents.

"Even though he is a little shorter, he weighs 190 pounds, so he is very strong. He is built very low to the ground with great balance. He has great quickness and is very elusive. He catches the ball very well and holds up in pass protection very well," California coach Jeff Tedford said. "He is a great player. I think the numbers speak for themselves there."

Rodgers certainly got the attention of the Trojans.

The Beavers defeated No. 1 USC 27-21 on Sept. 25, in what is considered one of the greatest wins in Oregon State history.

It was the first time the Beavers had knocked off a No. 1 team since the storied Giant Killers beat O.J. Simpson and the Trojans 3-0 in Corvallis in 1967.

Oregon State built a 21-point first-half lead before capitalizing on a late turnover. Orange-clad Beavers fans rushed the field when the clock ran out after the 25-point underdogs shook up college football with a victory over a USC team that was expected to roll right through its conference straight to the national championship game.

Rodgers' rushing yards were the most by a Trojan opponent since Vince Young of Texas ran for 200 in the BCS national championship game in 2006.

But the season ultimately came down to the Civil War against Oregon. Oregon State was playing for the conference title and its first Rose Bowl berth since the 1964 season.

The Ducks romped to a 65-38 victory in Corvallis, stunning the Beavers and dashing hopes for the trip to Pasadena.

The loss snapped Oregon State's six-game winning streak. It was the most points the team had ever allowed an opponent.

"It definitely hurts coming this whole way during the season, playing through the games we had to play through and then not being able to top it off," Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao said.

The Beavers shook off the loss for the Sun Bowl, the lowest-scoring major bowl game in a half-century.

"Guys sulked for a bit," Beavers defensive end Victor Butler said. "But in the end you've got to get your head in the game. You've got to go play football because the other team wants to play and win just as much as you do."

The last time Oregon State won a game 3-0 was when they beat the Trojans in 1967.

The Beavers improved to 5-0 in bowls since Mike Riley began his second stint as their coach in 2003. Riley was named the Pac-10's coach of the year.

Oregon State, which was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10, finished 7-2 with Oregon behind league champion USC.

Moevao, a junior, threw 19 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions in 11 starts this season. Backup Sean Canfield had six scoring passes and two interceptions in a pair of starts. Senior receiver Sammie Stroughter caught passes for 1,040 yards and seven TDs.

But it was Quizz's season.

After one game, he was cheered by a handful of boosters lingering in the hallways of the Beavers' Valley Football Center. A young girl asked Rodgers if he would autograph her jersey.

As he obliged, a fan with the girl commented: "My granddaughter can wear that when you win the Heisman."

Quizz shyly smiled, then darted away. Just like on the field.