Defense keeps potent Bruins offense in check, and Mannion fuels productive pass attack for 2-0 Oregon State

PASADENA, Calif. — If Oregon State’s not a top-25 team, one thing is for sure:

The Beavers know how to beat teams that are.

Sean Mannion threw for 379 yards and two touchdowns and Oregon State’s defense did a number on the nation’s No. 2 offensive unit in a 27-20 victory over 19th-ranked UCLA Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

It was the second straight win over a ranked team by the Beavers (2-0), who knocked off 13th-ranked Wisconsin 10-7 at Corvallis two weeks ago.

“We’ve had a good start, that’s what I’ll say right now,” said OSU coach Mike Riley, holding 13-month-old grandson Eli as he met with the media afterward. “We thought Wisconsin was a good team. We played (the Badgers) and beat them. We thought (the Bruins) were a good team. We played them and beat them. That’s where we are.”

Most of the Beavers deflected questions about whether they feel they deserve a national ranking.

“We played two top-25 teams and came away with great wins,” Mannion said. “I’ll let (a national ranking) take care of itself. We’ll just focus on football.”

One OSU player, however, was willing to offer what is more likely the team’s consensus opinion about whether the Beavers are deserving of a spot in the top 25.

“I know we are,” said freshman tailback Storm Woods, who rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. “We felt like that last week, but we don’t want to be entitled. ... We want to gain respect.

“If you don’t respect us, we’ll just go out there and beat you. This is a special group. We’re going to do some special things this year.”

Riley called it a “total team win,” and that isn’t hyperbole. The Beavers rolled up 25 first downs and 501 yards total offense, held a UCLA team that entered the game averaging 622 yards total offense (and 40.7 points) to 444 yards and got solid work from special teams, notably from kicker Trevor Romaine and punter Keith Kostol.

“A tough loss, but hats off to Oregon State,” said first-year coach Jim Mora, whose Bruins dropped to 3-1. “That’s a good defensive team and a well-coached team, and they beat us.”

Mannion carved up the UCLA defense with the pass, throwing for 273 yards before halftime. He completed 24 of 35 passes and had only one interception. Markus Wheaton (nine catches, 150 yards, one TD) and Brandin Cooks (6 catches, 175 yards, one TD) gave denizens of the Bruin secondary nightmares — er, daymares — as they cavorted to and fro on the Rose Bowl turf after a Mannion aerial.

“That shows what Wheaton and Cooks are capable of doing every week,” Woods said. “I practice with those guys, and I’m blown away almost every day.”

The Bruins “gave us a lot of man coverage, and we took advantage of it,” Wheaton said. “They gave us the looks we wanted, and we went for it. And Sean made a lot of good plays. All the balls he threw to me were perfect.”

Oregon State’s defense is rolling through Heisman Trophy candidates.

In the opening win over Wisconsin, the Beavers held Montee Ball to 61 yards on 15 carries. UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin entered Saturday’s game as the nation’s No. 1 rusher with a 180.3-yard average. No problem for the OSU D, which stuffed the run and limited Franklin to 45 yards on a dozen attempts.

A surprise to keep Franklin so quiet?

“To be honest, no,” said OSU defensive tackle Joe Lopez, a sophomore from Central Catholic who saw plenty of duty Saturday. “We’d game-planned real hard for two weeks against the spread option. (The Bruins) are a great team, but we put it on the backs of our defensive line to stop them.”

The Beavers “have a very good run defense,” Mora said. “They are big and physical up front. Some people call it a seven-man front, but it’s a nine-man front with inverted safeties. In run support, they respond very quickly. They won the battle at the line of scrimmage.”

The Bruins, who came into the game ranked fifth nationally with 311 yards rushing per game, managed 72 against the Beavers. The hosts were 2 for 15 on third-down conversions.

“We knew their motion was deception,” OSU linebackers coach Trent Bray said. “Our focus was discipline in our run fits and discipline with our eyes.

“The defense played excellent. To hold UCLA to 20 points is an achievement. And we got off the field when we needed to — that was the biggest thing.”

Mannion hit for several long passes, including first-half TD strikes to Cooks (75 yards) and Wheaton (42) and a 46-yard pass Cooks took to the UCLA 1-yard line in the fourth quarter. Mannion had another long TD on a screen pass that Woods took 50 yards to the house in the second quarter, but it was nullified by a penalty.

“I was so sick we got that called back,” Riley said. “It was a beautiful big play.

“You need to get some big chunks. We broke out today and got a couple. We missed plenty more, too. We missed a couple of angles on the sideline I was really disappointed in.

“Sean had a couple he’d like to have back, but he showed poise, was resilient and made some throws to help us win the game.”

Riley — who has assumed play-calling this year after abdicating the duty to offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf the previous four seasons — used a little bit of everything in his playbook against the Bruins. The run was more effective as the game went on, with Woods picking up 62 of his yards after halftime.

“In order for us to move the ball, we had to have a great mixture of things to do,” Riley said. “We thought we needed to stay with the run, even though we knew it would be hard initially. We tried to keep (the Bruins) off-balance, because they’re really athletic defensively.”

Oregon State used terrific defense and the two long, scoring bombs to jump ahead 17-3 in the second quarter. With UCLA in a safety blitz, Mannion found Cooks on a short slant. When the sophomore looked up, all he saw was daylight.

“We ran hard play-action and Cooks ran a great route,” Mannion said. “I saw him breaking free and just tried to give him a chance. It was a fairly short throw, and he did the rest of the work.”

Mannion then laid in a perfect strike to Wheaton in the end zone, and the Beavers had a two-touchdown cushion.

But then the Bruins, all but lifeless on offense, got a big one. Freshman QB Brett Hundley hit Shaquille Evans deep for 65 yards and a TD, drawing them to within 17-10 with 49 seconds remaining prior to the break.

UCLA failed to capitalize on a pair of Mannion turnovers — a fumble and an interception — in the third quarter. And the Beavers got the offense cranked up again late in the quarter, going 88 yards in 13 plays. Woods scored from 2 yards to give OSU a 24-10 advantage with 1:21 left in the period.

UCLA came back quickly, mounting a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive with Hundley capping it with a 1-yard sneak for a TD to close the margin to 24-17 with 14:01 to go in the game.

Back came the Beavers, Cooks taking another slant pass 46 yards to the UCLA 1.

The Bruins held the Beavers short of the end zone on three running plays, though. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Romaine booted an 18-yard field goal to push OSU ahead 27-17 with 9:33 remaining.

The Bruins got a 35-yard Ka’i Fairbairn field goal with 1:47 left to draw within 27-20, but after a failed onside kick, didn’t get the ball back until five seconds were left on the clock.

“A great job by our team,” Riley said. “We were remarkable defensively. (UCLA has) a really good group of offensive players and a good offensive scheme. I’m really proud of the defense. You have to prove that stuff week to week. We’ve played two totally different (offensive) styles and performed very well. That’s a great sign.

“And we just kept playing. If something bad happened, nobody blinked, and somebody else made a play. I was so proud of them for their resilience, for playing hard and making plays to win the game.”

Wheaton was asked the difference between the Beavers this season and the team that went 3-9 a year ago.

“We’ve had a different sort of energy,” the senior receiver said. “Everything you need to win has been there since the last game last year. After a bad season, the offseason was great. It’s showing right now.”

As he exited the jubilant Oregon State locker room after the game, Riley quietly went over to kiss his wife, Dee, and his daughter, Kate, and to hug his prize possession — Eli, his first grandchild. Then he told the media what he really thinks of the national rankings.

“If we just keep winning, those things take care of themselves,” the 12th-year OSU coach said. “Later on is when it’s important. That’s when I want to be up there in the polls.”

NOTES — It’s the first time Oregon State has begun a season with consecutive wins over ranked teams. ... Riley moved even with Lon Stiner for the most victories on OSU’s coaching list with 74. Stiner was 74-49 with the Beavers from 1933-48. Riley is 74-63 — 66-49 since his return in 2003 after four years in the NFL. ... Oregon State is 9-2 after bye weeks during Riley’s 12-year tenure as coach. ... UCLA had won seven of the previous nine meetings between the teams. ... Wheaton moved into a tie with Phil Ross for fifth on the OSU career pass receptions list with 153. Wheaton climbed to seventh on the receiving yardage list with 1,987. ... Mannion, a 6-5, 210-pound sophomore, has 3,983 yards passing in his short career, already sixth on the school list. ... The 6-3, 235-pound Hundley had his third straight 300-yard passing game, completing 27 of 42 passes for 372 yards and a TD with no interceptions.

Temperature at kickoff was 88 degrees. “We knew it was going to be hot,” Lopez said. “We practiced running to the huddle every play, and we were getting hydrated all week. It didn’t affect us too much.” ... Did the bye week help Oregon State get ready for UCLA? “It’s always good to have the extra preparation,” Wheaton said. ... Romaine was 2 for 2 on field goals and Kostol, who led a ball slip through his hands in what amounted to a turnover against Wisconsin, had a terrific game. The walk-on sophomore from Tigard punted six times for a 43.9-yard average, including a 61-yarder late in the first half. The Bruins were unable to return a punt. “Keith came back, didn’t he?” OSU special teams coach Bruce Read said. “Trevor gave us what we needed from him. I was really proud of both of them, and of (long snapper) Michael Morovick, too.” .... UCLA came into the game leading the nation with seven interceptions. ... UCLA had two first downs in the first quarter — one by penalty. The Bruins managed 38 yards total offense in the period, most if it coming on Hundley’s 25-yard scramble.

UCLA’s Owa Odighizuwa, a 6-3, 270-pound junior defensive end from David Douglas High, had two tackles in a reserve role. He came into the game with eight tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack in the first three games. ... Oregon State has 24 players on its roster from Southern California, including Romaine from Corona, linebacker D.J. Welch from Palm Desert, receivers Obum Gwachum from Chino Hills and Kevin Cummings from Culver City, offensive linemen Josh Andrews from Fontana and Michael Philipp from San Bernardino, linebacker Feti Unga from Rochester and cornerback Rashaad Reynolds from Pacoima.


Oregon State-3-14-7-3—27



OSU — Trevor Romaine 22 field goal 9:24.


UCLA — Ka’i Fairbairn 22 field goal 12:59.

OSU — Brandin Cooks 75 pass from Sean Mannion (Romaine kick) 12:48.

OSU — Markus Wheaton 42 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) 5:23.

UCLA — Shaquille Evans 65 pass from Brett Hundley (Fairbairn kick) :49.


OSU — Storm Woods 2 run (Romaine kick) 1:21.


UCLA — Hundley 1 run (Fairbairn kick) 14:01.

OSU — Romaine 18 field goal 9:33.

UCLA — Fairbairn 35 field goal 1:47.

ATT: 54,636.

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