Final Recap to the 2004 season
Jan. 7, 2005
Corvallis, Ore. -
THE RECAP: Oregon State competed in its fifth bowl game in six years and defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 38-21 in the 16th annual Insight Bowl at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix. The Beavers have won three of their last four bowl contests and in the wins averaged 44.7 points while allowing 14.7.
IT'S ALWAYS DARKEST.....: The low point of the 2004 season came in a 49-7 loss to then No. 10 California Oct. 2 at Reser Stadium. The team stood 1-4 and 0-2 in the Pac-10, and had faced the toughest slate in Division I. A much needed bye week rested an exhausted team and the squad went on to win six of the final seven games -- the only loss was to No. 1 USC (28-20) in what will ever be known as the 'Fog Bowl.'
INSIGHT MVPs: The ESPN announcing team named sophomore tight end Joe Newton as the Capital One Player of the Game after making seven catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. The rest of the media contingent named senior quarterback Derek Anderson the offensive MVP and junior linebacker Trent Bray the defensive MVP. Anderson was 28 of 45 for 358 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Bray had a team-high 10 tackles, including a quarterback sack. Newton's touchdown receptions and Anderson's touchdown passes tied Insight Bowl records.
WINNING REGULAR SEASON: Oregon State has posted a winning regular season the last three years, the best run for the program since posting five straight between 1966-70.
PAC-10 VICTORIES: Oregon State's five victories within Pac-10 Conference play is its second-highest total ever. The program won seven games in 2000 on its way to an appearance in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. OSU also won five games in 1968 in what was then known as the Pac-8 Conference.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Oregon State played arguably its most difficult schedule in the history of the program in 2004. The Beavers played 2004 national title winners and No.1 USC, No. 9 (AP) California, No. 12 Boise State, No. 16 LSU and No. 19 Arizona State. In the final USA Today Sagarin rankings, Oregon State finished No. 17 and its schedule ranked as the second most difficult, trailing only North Carolina. Over the course of the 12-game season, the Beavers played both 2003 national champions (LSU & USC) and the eventual 2004 national champions (USC).
ARV: Oregon State finished the season in the 'also receiving votes' category in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Beavers received 17 votes in the AP poll and effectively finished No. 31 -- the team also received 11 votes in the coaches poll and No. 33.
THEIR LAST GAME: Fifteen OSU seniors appeared or suited up in the Insight Bowl. These 15 seniors combined for 238 starts and most played in three bowl games -- Insight (twice) and Las Vegas. A look at the 2004 class:
Derek Anderson, QB -- OSU's all-time passing leader Brent Bridges, OL -- Reserve lineman Matt Brock, C -- 38 straight starts Gabe Button, TE - Reserve Keller Christensen, LB -- Special Teams standout, 1 TD Kevin Davidson, LB -- backup, 34 career tackles George Gillett, WR --10 career starts, 34 receptions Pat Loney, TE -- 2 career starts, 14 receptions, 3 TDs Mitch Meeuwsen, FS -- OSU's all-time leader for INTs (20) Doug Nienhuis, OT -- 38 straight starts Jonathan Pollard, LB -- 122 tackles, 20 starts Adam Rothenfluh, QB -- 2 career TDs Bill Swancutt, DE -- OSU's career sack leader with 37 Aric Williams, CB -- 26 starts, 9 career INTs Dwight Wright, TB -- 1,519 rushing yards, 12 TDs.
RILEY IS THE FIRST: Beaver head coach Mike Riley became the first coach in OSU history to win multiple NCAA sanctioned bowl games. Riley also guided the Beavers to the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl title. Lon Stiner (1933-48) was 3-0 in bowl competition, but two of the victories came in the unsanctioned Pineapple Bowl in Hawai'i.
NORTHWEST TITLE: A major factor in Oregon State being bowl eligible was its mythical Northwest Championship. The Beavers defeated Washington, Washington State and Oregon for the first time in the same season since 1974. Former Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel claimed Washington as the 'Northwest Champions' in 2003.
RED ZONE CONVERSIONS: Oregon State scored on 33 of its last 34 trips (20 TDs) inside the 20-yard line. The Beavers' opponents converted just 15 of their last 25. For the season OSU was a Pac-10 best 85.7 percent when penetrating the 20-yard line. The Beavers also led the league in 2003 at 86.4.
SPLITS THE UPRIGHTS: An unknown entering the 2004 season was at placekicker where the program was to have a new man at the position. Redshirt-freshman Alexis Serna, who was a candidate for the Lou Groza Award, has solidified himself as the next outstanding kicker after converting 17 of 20 field goal attempts for a 85 percent success rate. Serna, who was twice featured on ESPN GameDay, earned Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week twice after hitting 5-for-5 (OSU record) at Washington and vs. Oregon. Serna's lone regular season miss was a 41-yard attempt in a swirling wind Oct. 30 at Arizona. The Beavers have been fortunate to have good kickers over recent seasons -- Kirk Yliniemi was 19-for-23 in 2003 and 15-for-16 in 2002.
FIRST QUARTER FORCE: Oregon State outscored its last seven opponents in the first quarter 67-13 and for the season had an 101-41 advantage. Oregon State scored on its first possession of the game in five of the last nine contests and in seven of 12 overall. The Beavers failed to convert on its first drive at Arizona and vs. Notre Dame, but did on their second in each instance. Arizona, Stanford, USC and New Mexico were the only teams to not allow OSU to score on its opening drive.
FAVORITE TARGETS: Beaver quarterbacks looked for their tight ends often this season; in fact Oregon State led the Pac-10 in 2004 for receptions by the position with 78. Sophomore Joe Newton was second on the team with 56 (missed 1 game), reserves Dan Haines had 14 and Pat Loney had eight.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: Oregon State quarterbacks connected with eight different receivers for touchdowns in 2004 -- Mike Hass (7), Joe Newton (7), Marcel Love (4), Anthony Wheat-Brown (3), Dwight Wright (2), Pat Loney (2), George Gillett (1), Dan Haines (1) and Josh Hawkins (1).
OPPORTUNISTIC DEFENSE: Oregon State finished the season tied for fourth (Marshall, Kansas, Va. Tech) in the nation for team interceptions with 19. Troy led the NCAA with 25, followed by Boise State (23) and USC (22).
HIGHLY REGARDED SECONDARY: Oregon State's four starters in the defensive backfield earned All-Pac-10 honors. Senior free safety Mitch Meeuwsen was a first team selection, senior cornerback Aric Williams and sophomore cornerback Brandon Browner were second team picks, and sophomore strong safety Sabby Piscitelli earned honorable mention.
ANOTHER GOOD NOVEMBER: Oregon State is 13-5 in the 11th month starting with the 1999 season and 10-1 at Reser Stadium during that time. USC is the only program that has a better record in the Pac-10 during the month over that time span at 18-3.
RARE RUSHING WOES: Oregon State has been among the conference and national leaders for rushing offense over the past few seasons, but 2004 was a different story. The Beavers averaged 70.7 yards per game on the ground -- 10th in the Pac-10 and 117th in the nation. However, the Beavers did face five teams that ranked among the top 10 in the country for rush defense -- USC (1), California (2), Notre Dame (4), LSU (7) and Boise State (10).
RECORD PASSING YEAR: Oregon State's quarterbacks passed for 3,615 yards for the season, the second-highest mark in school history. The team's 3,348 yards during the regular season was a record for an 11-game schedule. The school record is 4,265 yards in 2003 (13 games).
TURNOVER REVERSAL: Oregon State ranked last in the Pac-10 and 103rd in the nation for turnover margin at minus-1.40 entering the Oct. 16 game at Washington. The Beavers forced 22 turnovers over the last seven games, while committing 12, and finished the year fifth in the league at 0.25.
QUARTERBACK PRESSURE: Oregon State had 32 quarterback sacks for the season, 26 of those in the last eight games. The school's career quarterback sacks record holder Bill Swancutt had 11.5 of the 26 and concluded his career with a school record 37.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: Junior linebacker Trent Bray finished second in the Pac-10 for solo tackles with 65 (Spencer Havner, UCLA, 84). He ranked second for overall stops with 122, trailing Havner (125). Bray accounted for double figures for tackles in seven of the 12 games this season.
MEEUWSEN IN THE RECORD BOOK: Senior safety Mitch Meeuwsen is the new OSU career record holder for interceptions with 20. The Forest Grove High School graduate had six picks over the last eight games. Fourteen of his 20 came in Pac-10 Conference games. Meeuwsen was second for interceptions in 2004 by active players trailing only Wisconsin's Jim Leonhard (21).
AIR DEFENSE: Senior cornerback Aric Williams led the Pac-10 for passes defended with 19 (14 brup, 5 int). Senior free safety Mitch Meeuwsen (9 brup, 6 int) was third and Sophomore strong safety Sabby Piscitelli (8 brup, 5 int) fifth. Meeuwsen led the league for interceptions with six.
TRUE FRESHMEN EARN TIME: Six true-freshmen participated in games in 2004. Sammie Stroughter earned the job as punt and kick returner, Lamar Herron was a factor as a reserve defensive back and special teams member, and Charles Burnley, Daniel Drayton, Alan Darlin, and Matt Sieverson participated mainly on special teams.
PENALTY PROBLEMS: Oregon State improved in the penalty area, but still ranked near the bottom of the league -- finishing ninth at 78.8 yards. Maybe the most telling statistic is OSU's opponents had 45 first downs via penalty, compared to just 21 for the Beavers. While the 78.8 figure is high, it's down from 110.2 yards in 2003 and 100.2 in `02.
LINEBACKER U -- WEST COAST: Penn State has long been considered one of the best programs for outstanding linebackers and future NFL stars. Oregon State can argue it's the version of 'Linebacker U' on the West Coast. James Allen, a 3rd Round selection of the New Orleans Saints after the 2002 season is a starter; Nick Barnett, a 1st Round selection of the Green Bay Packers after the `03 season was the club's Defensive Rookie of the Year; and Richard Seigler was a 4th Round pick of the San Francisco 49ers following the 2003 season.
HOME RECORDS: Here is a look at the home records within Pac-10 Conference action (Pac-10 games only) beginning in the 1999 season:
1. Oregon State 18-6 6. UCLA 13-112. Oregon 17-7 7. Stanford 13-11 USC 17-7 California 13-114. Washington 16-8 9. Washington St. 12-135. Arizona State 14-10 10. Arizona 4-20
THE ONE AND ONLY: Oregon State was the only program in the nation to play the two defending 2003 national champions. The Beavers traveled to defending Bowl Championship Series title winners LSU Sept. 4. USC, the `03 Associated Press champion, visited Reser Stadium Nov. 6.
THREE OUT OF FOUR....: Oregon State played three of the four programs that lost just one game last season -- LSU, USC and Boise State. Miami (Ohio) also had one setback in 2003.