Last Saturday, the Oregon State Beavers topped the Oregon Ducks, 34-24, for the first time since 2007.
Both teams have had tough seasons – Oregon entered the game with a record of 4-7, Oregon State with a record of 3-8 – neither with a bowl game on the line. The game its self didn’t mean much, but the outcome tells an important story of which direction each organization is heading. For the Ducks it meant it was time to change direction, and they fired head coach Mark Helfrich. The Beavers on the other hand can now see light at the end of the tunnel.
At halftime the game was tied at 14. In the third quarter the Ducks jumped out to a 24-14 lead and looked like they had taken control of the game… Until they allowed 20 unanswered points. Oregon State won it with their running game. The Beavers’ final three touchdown drives ended in a run. They completed only one pass in the second half on three attempts, for a three-yard gain. In all, the Ducks allowed 310 total rushing yards.
Both teams had disappointing seasons, but the coming years could be promising for Oregon State. Head coach Gary Andersen began rebuilding the program last season, in his first year in Corvallis. Fans are very optimistic about Andersen after this season. Things are looking up for the Beavers with quarterback Marcus McMaryion and running back Ryan Nall returning next season. McMaryion finished the season with a 59 percent completion rate, averaging 7.6 yards per pass, and threw for 10 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Nall finished the year with 147 carries for 951 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The question for the Beavs is, can they capitalize on this season’s successful finish (winning their last two games) next year?
Oregon, on the other hand, has been a powerhouse the past several years and had begun to be held to a very high standard. This season was very frustrating for fans, and the program – leading to the firing of Helfrich Tuesday night. He had been on the hot seat all season and many people were questioning his future at Oregon. This will most likely affect recruiting this year, and the coming years. Helfrich was the man who recruited Marcus Mariota.
Just who the Ducks are going to hire is anyone’s guess, at this point (Advocate deadline time of Thursday afternoon).
There are still things to look forward to if you’re a Duck fan, however. Freshman quarterback Justin Herbert looked very impressive and could be even better next season. Herbert started seven games this season and finished with 1,936 passing yards and 19 passing touchdowns. Running back Tony Brooks-James has been in the shadow of Royce Freeman the last couple seasons but could be a big part of the Oregon offense next season.
It’ll be interesting to see how things play out.