Beavers Seek Bowl Game Invitation
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) _ Oregon State already proved it’s the best team in the Beaver State. Now it will see whether the best season in school history is good enough for an invitation to a New Year’s Day bowl game.
The Beavers (10-1, 7-1 Pac-10) defeated Oregon 23-13 Saturday to win the biggest of the 104 Civil War games. It was the first time in history the two teams played each other while both were ranked in the Top 10.
The victory pushed Oregon State from No. 8 to No. 5, the school’s highest ranking ever in The Associated Press poll. The Ducks (9-2, 7-1) fell from fifth to 10th.
``Everybody called us a fluke,″ Beavers tight end Marty Maurer said of the team’s 7-5 record last year, which broke a streak of 28 straight losing seasons. ``It’s more gratifying this year. And anytime you beat the Ducks and knock them out of the Rose Bowl, that makes your year.″
Oregon State, Oregon, and Washington all finished tied for the Pac-10 championship at 7-1, but the Huskies earned the Rose Bowl berth because they beat Oregon State 33-30 in early October, and had a better non-conference record than the Ducks.
Still, Oregon State reached 10 victories for the first time since it began playing football in 1893. It had won nine games twice before, in 1939 and 1962.
When the Bowl Championship Series standings are released Monday, the Beavers are expected to move up from No. 9. Any team in the top 12 can be considered for one of the four BCS games _ the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls.
Because of conference tie-ins, however, there might be no room for the Beavers. The Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the BCS play in the Orange Bowl; one spot in the Sugar will go to the Southeastern Conference champion; a place in the Fiesta is reserved for the Big 12 champion, or second place if Oklahoma stays No. 1; and Washington and Purdue already are going to the Rose Bowl.
That leaves either the Fiesta or Sugar available to the Beavers. But the Sugar is more likely to take a team from the South or East Coast, and whoever finishes third in the BCS _ probably Miami or Florida State _ probably will wind up in New Orleans.
The Fiesta would seem a good fit for Oregon State _ bowl officials could count on thousands of Beaver Believers in orange and black traveling to Tempe, Ariz. _ but Notre Dame is a bigger draw. Then there’s Virginia Tech and Nebraska. Where will they go?
The Holiday Bowl in San Diego is supposed to take the second-place team from the Pac-10, but it can choose in the event of a tie. Bowl officials historically have broken ties by selecting the team that has the edge in head-to-head competition, which would favor the Beavers over the Ducks.
Oregon State took command quickly against its intrastate rival Saturday, taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on touchdown passes of 31 and 59 yards from Jonathan Smith to Robert Prescott. The Beavers’ defense forced six turnovers _ five interceptions by Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington and a fumble, when Sefa O’Reilly hit Harrington from behind and teammate DeLawrence Grant recovered at the Beavers’ 15.
Grant added an interception that ended Oregon’s final threat at the Oregon State 45 with 1:48 left.