Week 7 is well underway, and we are starting to learn the true character of teams.
By now, most teams are into the meat of their schedule. Provo, Utah was the setting for the Oregon State vs. Brigham Young game, and this important nonconference game came at an interesting time on the schedule for both teams.
This game was closer than its 42-24 score sounded, and we learned a great deal about both of these teams Saturday.
Here's what stood out.
Tucson, Pasadena, Provo—it doesn't seem to matter to these Beavers where they play.
No one gave them much of a chance against UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Check.
Not many thought the Beavers could go into Tucson and steal one from the high-flying Wildcats. Check.
And now they take it to a good Brigham Young team on their home field, which, I might point out, sits at 4,600 feet. Check.
Cody Vaz passed for 332 yards and three touchdowns. Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton did pretty much whatever they wanted to, and the BYU cornerbacks looked helpless to stop them.
Yes, Cooks and Wheaton are one of the best wide receiver duos in the Pac-12 Conference—maybe even the nation—and they often make their catches look easy.
However, Bronco Mendenhall is going to have a lot of teachable moments this week when he makes his defense watch film. As well as just flat out getting beat by faster receivers, the Cougars had some technical issues on coverage, too, that Mendenhall can coach to.
Quick—when was the last time that Oregon State started 5-0?
If you knew it was 1939, you're probably pretty old.
September has never been particularly kind to the Beavers. Especially to Mike Riley. Oregon State is traditionally a slow-starting team that Pac-12 opponents always hope to play early, rather than in, say, November.
That factoid is what is making this Beavers' team seem almost mythical five games in.
Just for the sake of argument, let's say that Sean Mannion recovers from his knee meniscus injury quickly. Side note: I had that injury a few years ago and recovered nicely with physical therapy and no surgery, and I'm a big baby. I'm also not trying wakeboarding ever again.
So, Mannion heals up nicely, but Cody Vaz keeps playing lights out like he did in his first start since high school.
What then, Coach Riley?
Oh, let's not think that far ahead yet and just enjoy these Beavers for now, OK?
Did you see that fabulous double reverse play to Markus Wheaton in the fourth quarter?
I don't see any reason on earth why that play won't work in almost every situation and against almost every team. It has to be perfectly executed like it was Saturday, but that is a well-designed play and should work more often than it fails for the Beavers.
And that reminds me...
When we first heard that head coach Mike Riley was going to take over the play-calling this season, I figured it meant that if OSU was going down, he was going down fighting.
Clearly, Riley should have been calling the plays all along. The OSU offense looked creative and sharp against BYU. The play-calling was full of variety, and gave Cody Vaz every chance to succeed.
Well done again, Coach Riley.
Cornerback Jordan Poyer is often in the right place at the right time. Which is pretty much his job description.
Poyer's pick-six against BYU was an important, timely play. It really put a stake through the Cougars' heart, and helped seal the victory.
It seems that each and every week Poyer is playing smarter and with more energy. Look for this guy to cause some serious Pac-12 trouble before the year is over.
What do referee calls in South Bend, Indiana have to do with what we learned in the OSU vs. BYU game?
Absolutely nothing; I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.
But since we're on the subject, we did learn Saturday that a visiting team cannot, under any circumstances, get a call when playing Notre Dame at home. Just. Can't. Happen.
Brigham Young came up short Saturday against a very, very good Oregon State team.
Devastated Cougar fans need to understand that this is the kind of game that can make you better down the road. BYU will win more games this year and will make it to a bowl game.
Oregon State fans must see that they have a wonderful team this year. The Beavers are showing guts, tenacity, smarts and motivation. At this midpoint in the season, you have to ask who can stop OSU?
What we learned Saturday is that the answer to that question is getting more elusive every week.
Here's the link to the live blog of the game.