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Oregon State happy to be in any bowl game

Pat Leonard | Tuesday, December 14, 2004

No. 4 California was poised to take a BCS bid to the Rose Bowl. Then, it happened.

The Golden Bears got snubbed in favor of No. 6 Texas. Their drop in the bowl picture rippled throughout the Pac-10 conference, and the stage was set.

Notre Dame (6-5) would play Oregon State (6-5), not UCLA, in the Insight Bowl Dec. 28 in Phoenix.

“There’s going to be a lot said about how this all transpired,” fourth-year Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said. “I really have no opinion on it whatsover. I said right after the Oregon game that I’m very excited to be going to a bowl game, they’ll tell us where to go and we’ll be very pleased with it.”

Had California gone to the Rose Bowl, Oregon State would have met Purdue in the Sun Bowl. But Riley said his team is pleased with even receiving a bowl bid.

“It’s exciting for our team,” he said. “I think it’s great for the Beavers to play five of the last six years in bowl games. It’s a great opportunity to practice our young players.”

Oregon State routed Notre Dame 41-9 in the last postseason meeting between the two teams at the 2001 Fiesta Bowl.

This time, the Beavers again bring a high-octane passing attack characteristic of Pac-10 teams against a Notre Dame secondary that has allowed 10 passing touchdowns in its last two games.

Quarterback Derek Anderson leads the Beaver offense that averages 304 yards passing and 74 yards rushing per game. Anderson kept Oregon State close against No. 1 USC in a 28-20 loss, the same team that beat Notre Dame 41-10.

“[Oregon State] throws the ball all over the place,” Irish interim head coach Kent Baer said. “They have got every route imaginable, everything you can imagine in the passing game, [and they throw] for 300 yards a game.”

Notre Dame’s def-ense gives up 274 yards passing and 94 yards rushing per game.

Anderson (6-foot-6, 240-pounds) has thrown for 10,891 yards and 75 touchdowns in four seasons with the Insight Bowl remaining, both first all-time for an Oregon State quarterback. He also has the second most career passing yards of an active Division-I quarterback behind only Hawaii’s Timmy Chang (16,667 yards).

Anderson helped Oregon State rebound from a 1-4 start. The Beavers played four ranked teams in their first five games, losing to Boise State, Arizona State, California and Louisiana State, a 22-21 season-opening loss in which kicker Alexis Serna missed three extra points.

Riley’s team bounced back to win on the road against Washington, Arizona and Stanford, and a season-ending 50-21 victory over in-state rival Oregon clinched the Beaver bowl berth.

Oregon State defensive end Bill Swancutt (6-foot-4, 259-pounds) anchors the Beavers line and has the second-highest sack total (11.5) and third-most tackles for a loss (18.5) in the conference. Swancutt was announced as the 2004 Morris Trophy winner recently, an award given to an offensive and defensive lineman each season as voted by the players on opponents’ starting lines.

Anderson and Swancutt are both seniors and looking to close their careers out with a win Dec. 28.

“I think the Sun Bowl was attractive. I think Notre Dame and the Insight Bowl are attractive to our team,” Riley said. “Just like all of us coaches, I think the players were excited just to learn where and who they wanted us to play.”