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The Oregon State Beavers didn't miss a step without Sean Mannion, as Cody Vaz had a huge game in Provo to lead Oregon State to a crucial road win over BYU.
Oregon State 42, BYU 24
The success of the Oregon St. Beavers has been purely cinematic this year. They started out the season knocking a top ten opponent at home (as per the Mike Riley formula). They then went into UCLA and took care of what looked like a resurgent Bruins squad, won a shootout in Arizona, and had to get down and dirty to knock off Washington State.
And after all that, they probably saved their most impressive performance for Saturday in Provo.
Cody Vaz came in and made everyone in Corvallis forget that it wasn't Sean Mannion back there, completing his first five passes on the first Oregon State touchdown drive and eight of his first ten for over 15 yards per pass attempt. Although he'd taper down after that, those two touchdowns set the tone of the game. Vaz made a few more big throws and sprung a big block on what was pretty much the clinching throw.
How impressive was Vaz? BYU gave up six touchdowns to the Beavers after giving up six touchdowns in the previous six games. Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks continue to have the best under-the-radar seasons you'll see from two Pac-12 wideouts, as they both execute pro-style routes with proficiency. Hell, the worst thing that might have come out of this game was that Vaz might ("might") have sparked a little QB controversy about who should start if he keeps playing like this.
As good as Vaz and the passing game was, most of the credit goes to the guys up front. The Oregon State offensive line continues to look better by the week, as they held off the BYU pass rush (only two sacks) and unleashed the Beaver run game for some big second half runs. Oregon State piled up 18 plays of ten yards or more, and 118 rushing yards is pretty good for a Beaver run game that was one of the worst in the country a year ago. Storm Woods might have durability issues and Malcolm Agnew isn't going to wow anyone, but if the line can block and open holes none of those other things will matter.
The Oregon State defense stepped up too. The Beavers run defense held BYU in check on the ground, forcing Riley Nelson to the air. Although Nelson did manage the game pretty well and lead the Cougars back three times to tie it back up, two costly interceptions ended one promising BYU drive and sealed the game on a Jordan Poyer pick-six respectively.
And after every game, they always seem to end up chowing down on double doubles. That'd be a pretty epic ending to every movie.
Just over two months ago, Oregon State was picked to finished last in their division in the Pac-12 North. Now they're a top ten team that keeps on chugging away and executing in all phases of the game. Many tests await, but it's hard not to look at what the Beavers have left and think a ten win season is there for the taking.