By T.J. Mathewson
Contributor, 750 The Game
Saturday night was one big party in Corvallis.
Almost perfect, you could say.
The game itself would’ve led to a festive atmosphere on its own. After intercepting UC Davis on the opening drive, Damien Martinez took the first Oregon State snap 64 yards to the house, and the route was on. The No. 16 Beavers would never look back, leading 38-0 at the half and finishing off the Aggies with mostly backups in the second half for a 55-7 final. Jonathan Smith had his team ready to play and they left no doubt.
That hasn’t always been the case. Long before my time of being ingrained in Beaver country, Oregon State has fallen against the Big Sky: Eastern Washington in 2013 and Sacramento State in 2011. That wasn’t going to be the case on Saturday night.
The Beavers seemingly checked every box they needed. Held the Aggies to 50 rushing yards? Yup. 12 tackles for loss? Check. Rushed for 269 yards on over seven yards per carry? You bet.
Most importantly, it gave fans a taste of what the future of an Oregon State football game day experience would be.
For the first time, many in Beaver Nation got to hang out on Beaver Street, which stretches the length of the new west side of the stadium, connecting the stadium on a 360-degree walkway. Grab a beverage, snag one of the coveted standing-room spots that give you a fantastic view of the field, and watch future starter Aidan Chiles lead the Beavers to three second-half scoring drives.
Sidebar here: Credit to the leadership at Oregon State for nailing the Beaver Street design. The first game day experience with it was a massive hit. After hearing from some fans after the game and walking through it myself, the goal of creating a beer garden/communal hangout space was achieved. Despite it taking some patience to navigate the length of it due to overcrowding (expected for a home opener), getting to watch a game from that perch is a treat. If you get there early, that’s the spot to be.
It was a little bit hard to judge some of the other new gameday aspects from a near-soundproof pressbox. I really liked the light show that was featured throughout the second half, using flashing LEDs between the third and fourth quarters and after touchdowns. The club-level seating was first-class.
Back on the field, Chiles wasn’t the only future starter who got a chunk of playing time. Freshman receiver Zach Card tied for the team lead in receptions. Redshirt freshman Melvin Jordan IV played a bunch at inside linebacker and contributed one of the twelve tackles for loss. Redshirt freshman Takari Hickle stripped UC Davis QB Miles Hastings while rushing around the edge, putting Oregon State in field goal range before the half. I can’t leave out Atticus Sappington, who I was hoping to see a little bit of this week. The redshirt sophomore made both of his kicks, from 40 and 28 yards.
All players who are expected to be huge parts of the future of this Oregon State program playing in a stadium that many, I hope, take after as a future design for the modern college football stadium.
The Beavers will have to wait another two weeks for a true test on the football field. Oregon State is already a -21.5 favorite at home against San Diego State next week after the Aztecs got blasted by UCLA 35-10 at home. That Washington State game in Pullman is looking a whole lot more interesting after the Cougars handled Wisconsin at home and move to No. 23 in the AP Poll. Wait, that’s now eight Pac-12 teams in the top 25?
Sounds like a conference with a bright future.