Friday, December 29, 2006

Beavers make believers in Sun Bowl win

Sometimes it has been difficult to be a Beaver Believer. Oregon State has been the perennial underdog for, well, seemingly forever. But this year has been a year of redemption for OSU fans, who have weathered many difficult sports seasons over the years.

Not that Oregon State hasn't had some good teams over the years. When I was a student at OSU it was tough to get into a basketball game, as Coach Ralph Miller had a powerhouse program. And in recent years, Oregon State's football team has made several trips to bowl games. I was at the Fiesta Bowl game back on New Year's Day 2001 to see the big win over Notre Dame.

But this year has been special. Oregon State's baseball team won the College World Series and the NCAA national title by coming from behind and facing elimination time after time. So perhaps it is only fitting that 2006 comes to a close with OSU's football team coming from behind to win the Sun Bowl against Missouri.

It's been an underdog, comeback year for the Beavers. After struggling early in the season and heavy fan criticism heaped on head coach Mike Riley and quarterback Matt Moore, the Beavers game from 14 points behind in the Sun Bowl today to win.

Riley made a gutsy call to go for a 2-point conversion and the win with less than a minute left in the game.

I have to admit, I was puzzled by Riley's loyalty to Moore early in the season. Moore struggled with interceptions last season and was off to a rocky start this year, with a talented young QB getting some playing time early on. But Riley stuck by Moore and Moore got better.

Even today, I questioned whether Moore could keep the Beavers in the game, let alone bring them back. Moore was struggling and nursing some apparent injuries in the second half today. But Riley and Moore, with the help of Sammie Stroughter, Yvenson Bernard and the rest of the team, were able to change their offensive strategy to come back from 14 points down.

The Beavers had a chance to tie the game on an extra-point conversion. But Riley went for two and the win.

And win they did.

The Beavers have made things very exciting this year. I don't know which was more exciting, being in Corvallis to watch the Beavers upset USC or to watch them come from behind today to win the Sun Bowl.

Thanks Beavs for an exciting season. I'm a bit ashamed of my pessimism throughout the season and even today. In my defense I come by my pessimism naturally. I'm a Beaver and spent a lifetime learning to live with disappointment. This winning stuff still takes some time to get used to expecting. But I'm learning. And I like it!

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