Yesterday, I noted that Georgia and Oregon State may face off in football as early as next season.
The author who penned that sentiment echoed the thoughts of O.S.U. head coach Mike Riley, who was quoted by an Oregon newspaper, The Register-Guard:
"It would be the biggest nonleague game we've had here."
Since it looks like this deal is going to happen, thanks to the involvement of E.S.P.N. and the time crunch both schools face between now and the start of the 2007 season, it is worth taking a moment to look at Oregon State.
Not the image I'm hoping to see when the 'Dawgs travel to Corvallis. (Photograph from Corvallis Gazette-Times.)
As I noted earlier, the Bulldogs and the Beavers have squared off thrice previously, in 1971, 1974, and 1987. All three contests ended in Georgia victories, but the Red and Black hardly got O.S.U.'s best shot in any of those outings.
Between 1960 and 1970, Oregon State went 11 straight seasons without posting a losing record, but the 1971 Beavers were 5-6 overall and sat at .500 in conference play. The later O.S.U. squads to face the 'Dawgs between the hedges were even worse, as the Beavers posted ledgers of 3-8 in 1974 and 2-9 in 1987.
This, though, is not your father's Oregon State team. Beginning in 1965, the team from Corvallis played 34 consecutive seasons without attending a bowl game. Starting in 1971, the Beavers played 28 straight seasons without finishing any year with a winning record.
Commencing in 1999, however, O.S.U. began a seven-year stretch in which the team made it into postseason play five times. In the two years in which the Beavers did not go bowling (2001 and 2005), Oregon State finished 5-6 both times, barely missing bowl eligibility.
Oregon State's history of facing S.E.C. opposition includes games against Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, L.S.U., and Tennessee. (You may insert your sophomoric joke expressing regret that Oregon State has never played South Carolina here.)
Paul Westerdawg already beat me to the punch on the "Naked Gun" reference.
The Beavers are 0-11-1 against the Southeastern Conference, having lost to the Plainsmen in Birmingham in 1973 (18-9), to the Wildcats in Lexington in 1968 (35-34) and 1976 (38-13), to the Bayou Bengals in Baton Rouge in 1976 (28-11), 1981 (27-24), 1982 (45-7), and 2004 (22-21), and to the Volunteers in Knoxville in 1977 (41-10), in addition to O.S.U.'s aforementioned setbacks suffered at the paws of the 'Dawgs.
The closest Oregon State came to victory was a 13-all tie at Tennessee in 1978, although the Beavers' overtime game on the bayou two years ago would have been an O.S.U. victory, had not Alexis Serna missed three extra points in a single game.
It should be noted, of course, that all of those games between the Beavers and S.E.C. squads took place in the South and all but the highly competitive 2004 Louisiana State game occurred before O.S.U.'s recent resurgence. The teams from our region to have visited Corvallis in recent memory include North Texas in 1997, Baylor in 1998, Georgia Southern in 1999, and Eastern Kentucky in 2002 . . . but no one more noteworthy than that.
Coach Riley is right . . . it would be a big deal for the Bulldogs to visit Reser Stadium, for the Red and Black very nearly as much so as for the home team. A Seattle newspaper columnist recently wrote of Georgia that the 'Dawgs are "notorious for refusing to travel outside the Southeast." Historically, of course, this is not true, but that marks two occasions on which folks from the Pacific Northwest have characterized Georgia as "notorious."
For a team allegedly prejudiced against the West, Georgia sure seems willing to schedule games against squads from that region. Counting contests already played or scheduled and those for which negotiations are ongoing, the Bulldogs have faced or will face opponents from the Pacific and mountain time zones in 2005 (Boise State), 2006 (Colorado), 2007 (Oregon State), 2008 (Arizona State), 2009 (Arizona State), 2010 (Colorado), 2011 (Oregon State), 2014 (Oregon), and 2017 (Oregon State), in addition to a future date with the Ducks in either 2015 or 2016.
If the contracts with both Beaver State schools come to pass, the 'Dawgs will play five different Western teams a total of 10 times in a 13-season span, with four of those games being played on the road in Boulder, Corvallis, Eugene, and Tempe. Such scheduling should silence the critics who charge the Bulldogs with insular provincialism and an East Coast bias.
Since it would benefit both schools for this series to take place, I hope the deal is done soon and we in Bulldog Nation can begin getting ready to host the Oregon State Beavers one year hence.