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Pac-12 notes: Oregon State bounces back from embarrassment

Published October 15, 2013 3:35 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The story of Oregon State's nice resurgence after a season-opening loss to Eastern Washington probably has a shelf life, considering the Beavers' schedule will get much tougher after this week's game at California.

Yet the Beavers deserve credit for the way they've responded to that 49-46 upset, having pieced together five victories and positioned themselves for bowl eligibility in mid-October. OSU's run includes a 51-48 overtime victory at Utah, which becomes more impressive after the Utes' performances against UCLA and Stanford.

OSU had obvious defensive problems in the opener, suffering a loss that coach Mike Riley now describes as "a great punch in the nose." The defense is getting better, as shown by interceptions on three straight possessions in the second half of a 52-24 win at Washington State, and a makeshift offensive line has enabled quarterback Sean Mannion to thrive.

It helped that Riley and his staff have been together for a while. He told his assistants after the loss at EWU, "All the stuff that you ever wanted in coaching is right here in front of us."

Pac-12 tops SEC for star selections

The national perception of the Pac-12 is rising, and ESPN.com's midseason All-America selections mostly will help in that regard. It's true that only one of the conference's selections is a defensive player, but having eight of the 26 honorees come from the Pac-12 — compared with six for the SEC — is a good endorsement.

The list includes Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, center Hroniss Grasu and kick returner Bralon Addison, Stanford offensive guard David Yankey, Washington running back Bishop Sankey, Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks, Utah kicker Andy Phillips and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.

Mariota remains pick-free

Considering the miscommunications, deflections and other unlucky occurrences that have resulted in Utah quarterback Travis Wilson's 10 interceptions in Pac-12 play, you would think something like that inevitably would happen to Mariota. But he's gone since the first half of last November's game against Stanford without throwing an interception, a span of 233 attempts.

Asked if he remembered Mariota's last interception, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said, "There was one in practice [Tuesday]. We promptly cut him."

Shaw endorses Rice

When the selection committee of the College Football Playoff is announced Wednesday, two members with Stanford ties will be included — former coach Tyrone Willingham and business professor Condoleezza Rice.

Cardinal coach David Shaw described them as "two of the most objective people you'll find" and added of Rice, "Anybody that thinks Condoleezza doesn't know football needs to sit down and talk to her for 10 minutes."

USC athletic director Pat Haden also is on the committee.

Colorado breaks out freshman QB

Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre was trying to be helpful when asked to describe quarterback Sefo Liufau's playing style. After offering a comparison, MacIntyre added, "Please don't say that he's Andrew Luck."

MacIntyre's point was that the 6-foot-4 Liufau, like Luck, is mostly a pocket passer but also a surprisingly good runner. In any case, Liufau represents Colorado's future after coming out of redshirt status in last Saturday's loss at Arizona State.

Liufau completed 18 of 26 passes for 169 yards after entering the game with the Buffaloes trailing 25-0. He also threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which resulted in a safety. Overall, though, MacIntyre liked the way the freshman handled himself.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com