If No. 16 Oregon State is still thinking of what might have been last week at Arizona, there’s a good reason.
The Beavers’ 27-24 loss was punctuated by a failed fake field goal on the final play of the first half as well as settling for a field goal on an earlier possession after getting inside the Wildcats’ 20-yard line.
Oregon State has to move forward, though, starting with a matchup against Colorado on Saturday in Boulder, Colo.
“We should have won the (Arizona) game,” Beavers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei said, “but we left stuff out there. We’ve got to clean that up.”
Uiagalelei would like to be more efficient this week. He was just 16 of 30 against the Wildcats for 218 yards and two touchdowns. He had connected on fewer than 50 percent of his attempts until completing his final four throws on a late scoring drive that got Oregon State within three points.
It was a potentially damaging loss for the Beavers (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12). They had a controllable path to the Pac-12 Conference championship game before the defeat but now will need to win out and perhaps get some help to reach Las Vegas the first week in December.
Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said after the defeat that he was eager to call the fake field goal from the Arizona 16. The problem was the play started with three seconds left and that kicker Atticus Sappington was asked to run about 20 yards to the end zone against faster, more athletic players.
“I was just champing at the bit to get the thing called,” Smith said. “What we anticipated, really what we got, was a pretty good look. I just rolled the dice on that one and hindsight was not good … a bad call.”
The Beavers were without two starters in the defensive backfield against the Wildcats. That could make them very vulnerable against a precise passer such as the Buffaloes’ Shedeur Sanders.
Although Sanders was held to 217 yards on 27-of-43 passing in a 28-16 loss at UCLA last week, he has completed 71.1 percent of his attempts for 2,637 yards and 22 touchdowns. In 346 passes, Sanders has tossed only three interceptions.
However, he didn’t have his usual gaudy numbers at UCLA because the Bruins’ front seven had their way with Colorado’s offensive line. Sanders was sacked seven times for 51 yards and the Buffaloes couldn’t generate enough of a rushing attack to keep Sanders upright.
“The hardest thing to acquire is linemen,” Colorado first-year coach Deion Sanders said. “When people have a good one, you rarely see linemen jump and go to different schools. I think we have some guys that is gonna be good with a little seasoning, but overall, we just don’t have the fight or passion to do what we want to do.”
At 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the conference, Colorado needs two wins from its final four games — Arizona, at Washington State and at Utah are its last three opponents — if it is to convert its 3-0 start into a bowl game.
The Buffaloes have lost four of their past five, but Smith wouldn’t categorize his upcoming foe as “struggling.”
“This league is tough and competitive. They have been competitive throughout,” Smith said. “Dramatically different than, let’s face it, last year. And so, this is a good football team. They can score in bunches. One of the best quarterbacks we’re going to play, defensively flying around, the home atmosphere they’ve created, you can see it on tape. It’s a tough place.”
Oregon State owns a 7-6 lead in the all-time series, including a 42-9 win last year in Corvallis, Ore.