Beaver football fans wanting more to savor this week than just the Thanksgiving turkey got their wish on Saturday, when sophomore placekicker Justin Kahut nailed a 24-yard field goal with time running out to propel OSU to a stunning 19-17 win over Arizona.
The win not only moved the Beavers from a ranking of 21 in the Associated Press and USA Today polls to no. 17, it set up a Civil War clash this Saturday that will determine whether the Beavers win the Pac 10 Conference title and return to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1965. The Beavs have now appeared in the top 25 for three consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since a three-week run in 2001.
After starting the season 0-2, OSU’s unlikely run for the Roses has triggered Beaver Fever nationally. For the past two consecutive weekends, ESPN’s popular College GameDay broadcast has carried features on head coach Mike Riley and star offensive player brothers James and Jacquizz Rodgers.
The Los Angeles Times published a moving feature on last Saturday’s Sports section front page on alumnus Jack Yoshihara, who was part of the Beavs’ 1942 Rose Bowl team. And early Monday morning, OSU Sports Information Director Steve Fenk found himself awash in phone messages, despite working late the evening before.
“What is it about this Oregon State team,” began The Oregonian’s coverage of Saturday’s win. “’You can’t put your finger on it,’ coach Mike Riley said. ‘When the going gets hard, some people shrink, and some people rise up. This group is proving that they rise up. It’s something that is just there, and I love that about them. . . . I am humbled watching that with this team.’”
The 112th matchup between OSU and the University of Oregon (ranked no. 19) gets underway at Reser Stadium at 4:07 p.m. and will be carried live nationally on the Versus Sports Network. Check for details and a short video clip of Kahut’s winning field goal at Versus.
Diehard fans can hear more on the Beaver Sports Radio Network, beginning at noon with the “Beaver Tailgate Show” from the Hilton Garden Inn on 1240-AM KEJO in the mid-Willamette Valley. “Inside Sports” with Ron Callan on Portland flagship KPAM 860-AM begins at 1 p.m. and the rest of the network stations join at 2 p.m.
As of press time, approximately 600 remaining student tickets for the game were going on sale – but only for students able to produce a ticket stub for each of the home games OSU has played this season. It’s a testament to the popularity of this year’s Beavers that the tickets were expected to go quickly. What few tickets were available externally through Web sites such as stubhub.com were selling for $120 to $200.
As for tickets for the Rose Bowl or other post-seasons games OSU might be invited to, check the Intercollegiate Athletics Web site at OSU Beaver Football following the Civil War game for updates and details.