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Pac-12 preview: Was upset of archrival Ducks a sign of things to come for Oregon State?

Beavers haven’t played in a bowl game since 2013, a trend fourth-year coach Jonathan Smith looks to end in 2021

Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith looks at scoreboard during game against Oregon in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.
Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith looks at the scoreboard during game against Oregon in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.
Amanda Loman, Associated Press

Editor’s note: Sixth in a series of stories examining the 12 football programs in the Pac-12.

Oregon State hasn’t had a winning season, or gone to a bowl game, since 2013.

As coach Jonathan Smith enters his fourth season at the helm, he’s hoping to change that.

The Beavers gave their fans a memorable highlight last season when they knocked off archrival No. 9 Oregon, 41-38, on a foggy night at Reser Stadium.

OSU running back Jermar Jefferson ran for 226 yards and two touchdowns and backup quarterback Chance Nolan replaced an injured Tristan Gebbia and scored on a one-yard, game-winning touchdown plunge in the final seconds.

It marked a signature win for Smith.

Going into the 2021 season, Jefferson is gone, having left for the NFL, and the Beavers need to find a way to replace his production.

Gebbia and Nolan, meanwhile, are battling for the starting quarterback job.

Turning to the defense, Oregon State gave up 33 points and more than 200 rushing yards per game. While most of its defensive players return, linebacker Hamilcar Rashed and cornerback Nahshon Wright leave a big void.

Oregon State hosts Utah on Oct. 23.


Word on the street

“You’re always trying to take steps in your program each year. Obviously, that’s a hurdle Oregon State hasn’t cleared in quite a while (bowl eligibility). That’s the first step, but we’re not going to set ourselves up with that low of a bar. … There’s nothing saying our guys can’t line up every Saturday and beat somebody. (Bowl eligibility) would be a step for us because Oregon State hasn’t done it in a while, but if we start out 6-0 we’re not going to celebrate the rest of the season.”

— OSU Coach Jonathan Smith to the Oregonian


By the numbers

2020 record: 2-5 (2-5 Pac-12)

Returning starters: Offense: 8, defense: 7


Local ties

OL Heneli Bloomfield (Jordan HS)

DL Omarion Fa’amoe (West HS)

LB Riley Sharp (Skyline HS)


2021 schedule

Sept. 4 @P urdue

Sept. 11 Hawaii

Sept. 18 Idaho

Sept. 25 @ USC

Oct. 2 Washington

Oct. 9 @ Washington State

Oct. 23 Utah

Oct. 30 @ California

Nov. 6 @ Colorado

Nov. 13 Stanford

Nov. 20 Arizona State

Nov. 27 @ Oregon