OSU vs PSU Football Coach Andersen

Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen leaves the field after the Beavers rallied to defeat Portland State 35-32 on Saturday. It was Andersen's seventh win in his 26 games leading the Beavers. 

Andy Cripe, Mid-Valley Media

Just before kickoff Saturday, there was an entire section of Reser Stadium that remained empty.

Others, meanwhile, had just a smattering of fans finding their way to their seats to watch Oregon State take on Portland State in the Beavers’ home opener.

It was not a good sight.

Sure, it was an 11 a.m. kickoff.

Yes, the temperatures were expected to be in the high 80s in the middle of the game.

And let’s not forget the 58-27 shellacking the Beavers took in Fort Collins, Colorado, last week at the hands of Colorado State  a team that lost to Pac-12 foe Colorado 17-3 on Friday night.

Those could all be legitimate factors as to why so few  the announced crowd of 34,737 no way accurately depicted the actual crowd count  in Beaver Nation chose to spend the afternoon watching their team play in person.

While all of those factors undoubtedly played a part in the low attendance, another  and more alarming  reason might be the perception fans have of the product on the field.

Unfortunately, it probably wasn’t that much of a shock when Portland State went 79 yards in just three plays to take a 6-0 lead 69 seconds into the game.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the game was in doubt until the final play, when the Vikings missed a 46-yard field goal that would have tied the game after OSU scored a touchdown with 68 seconds remaining.

It was a much-needed 35-32 victory that takes away a little bit of the sting  or maybe not  from an overall performance that probably doesn’t have many in the Pac-12 overly concerned about facing the Beavers.

As Gary Andersen said after the game, you can’t win two until you win one.

After Saturday, wins look like they will be really difficult to come by this season.

Maybe the most worrisome numbers from Saturday?

How about 291 rushing yards for the Vikings and a 515-389 edge in total yards.

The Beavers have now allowed 482 rushing yards and 1,040 total yards in two games.

The offense Saturday was sporadic at best, but did come through in the end with a 7-play, 77-yard drive in 1 minute, 30 seconds to grab the lead after PSU went up 32-28.

The defense has a long way to go, and, as Andersen said, is “not where we need to be from a fundamental standpoint at times and tackling ability.”

Bottle up all we have seen in the first two weeks and it begs the question: What does the future hold?

The state of the Oregon State football program has been on a downturn for the past — well, basically since the end of the 2009 season, when the Beavers and Ducks played an epic Civil War with the winner heading to the Rose Bowl.

Oregon won that game. The Beavers never seemed to recover.

Under former coach Mike Riley, the Beavers went 29-33 the next five seasons and finished no better than third in the Pac-12 North, and fifth overall in the old Pac-10 format.

When Riley left for Nebraska in 2014, the Beavers turned the program over to Andersen.

In two years and two games, the Beavers are just 7-19 and have yet to win a game on the road  the last victory came on Oct. 4, 2014 at Colorado.

In Andersen’s first two seasons, the Beavers won six games against teams that finished the year a combined 26-45 and only one team  San Jose State  made a bowl game. The Spartans were a 5-7 team that was needed to fill out the slate of bowl games.

There was a lot of excitement entering this season after the Beavers closed 2016 with back-to-back wins against Arizona and, most importantly, Oregon in the Civil War.

But what the Beavers have shown on the field in the first two games has not allowed the excitement to build.

In fact many may feel it is gone and that the worst is coming — there appeared to be little celebration as fans exited the stadium.

Time will tell, but right now, the road to bowl eligibility appears to be a difficult one to navigate.

Steve Gress is the sports editor for the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at steve.gress@lee.net.

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