The battle is on for Oregon State QB-1

The Oregon State football team is arguably coming off their best season of all time. And yet, they may be walking away from the bloke that got them there. With the addition of high-profile transfer DJ Uiagalelei, the Beaver faithful feels a conference title is within grasp, if not the College Football Playoff. But what about Ben Gulbranson? Gulbranson led Oregon State to their first ten-win season since 2006—a year that included victories over Florida and rival Oregon. Uiagalelei may have thrown for 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns, but Clemson underperformed in the win column. In today’s article, we will examine whether the Beavers landed a paper tiger or if there was always something about Ben.

DJ Uiagalelei

His career with the Tigers felt unfulfilled.

Even though he posted a 22-6 record at Clemson, it wasn’t enough. The final moments of his career as a Tiger ended with him being benched as a backup quarterback in the ACC Championship Game. This ultimately led to his decision to transfer to Oregon State.

He’d also been benched twice prior against Notre Dame and Syracuse.

These performances, combined with a two-loss regular season, proved to be his downfall at Clemson.

Luckily for him, he landed in a perfect situation.

Corvallis is an off-the-map location where if he flounders again, he’ll disappear into irrelevancy. On the other foot, if he builds the Beavers into a Pac-12 Champion, he’ll prove a legend forever.

And it could happen this year. OSU’s defense lost a few key pieces, most notably Omar Speights and Alex Austin. But most of the ten-win team remains intact.

The Beavers return Sophomore running back Damien Martinez, who’ll be complemented by one of the better lines in the conference.

This should bode well for a group that rushed the ball 40.3 times per game last year.

For DJ, a solid game manager role would keep OSU chomping. But that’s not why they got him.

Ben Gulbranson

Sometimes the most recent memories are the fondest, which is true with Ben.

Gulbranson ended 2022 as MVP of the SRS Distribution Bowl in the Beavs blowout win against Florida.

In total, he finished 7-1 as a starter. But this record feels deceiving.

In OSU’s upset victory against the Ducks. He did not attempt one pass in the fourth quarter—literally a pass.

If it weren’t for a dominant performance by Oregon State’s offensive line, Oregon would’ve run buckshot on OSU.

But this isn’t his only subpar performance in a victory.

In wins against Washington State, California, and the aforementioned Ducks, he respectively threw for 141, 137, and 60 yards.

He may have had the ugliest quarterback campaign in college football history, but he’s a winner.

A win is a win, is kinda a win, but is this sustainable?

On the year, he threw for 1,455 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions. He also added five touchdowns on the ground.

The Obvious

It’s obvious that Uiagalelei will be the starter in the opener against San Jose State, barring some sort of injury.

His experience in the ACC, particularly at a high-profile school like Clemson, should make Pac-12 environments feel tame.

Much like Bo Nix last year, the state of Oregon could serve as an escape, but Uiagalelei still needs to perform.

He didn’t get the job done with the Tigers and has an opportunity to redeem himself in a loveable place. He could be the dude that puts the Beavs over the map.

But if he does struggle, it’s good to know that ol-ten-win kinda reliable is sitting behind him.

OSU’s got options, but just remember, Ben got Mary.

Nick Bartlett | Oregon Sports News