Fresh off a 1-11 campaign in 2017, the Oregon State Beavers started the 2018 season with one of the most daunting assignments in college football – a road trip to Columbus, Ohio to face the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Beavers actually acquitted themselves fairly well on offense, scoring 31 points. The problem was that they just so happened to allow 77 points in a 46 point annihilation.
Even though the two OSUs are both Power Five schools, the gap between the two sides was painfully obvious. Oregon State was no match for Ohio State and the Buckeyes marched up and down the field at will for an easy victory.
These kinds of games are largely what make up the early weeks of the college football season as the haves of the sport feast on the have nots. But the margin of victory may have been a little much for the Beavers to stomach.
According to athletic director Scott Barnes, there wasn’t even a moral victory to be won in Columbus. Oregon State is done scheduling the sport’s elite programs and taking a hefty paycheck in non-conference play and instead will focus on playing teams a bit closer to their level.
“We won’t do it this way,” Barnes said. “This game was scheduled several years ago… it was a one-off, payday against a perennial top-five team. That’s not our philosophy. Our philosophy is that we’ll play the middle of the Big Ten, the middle of the Big 12, we’ll play a group of five team and a FCS team… building momentum means everything right now.”
Oregon State will play Oklahoma State, at Hawaii and home vs. Cal Poly in 2019 non-conference games. In 2020, the Beavers play at Oklahoma State, home vs. Colorado State and home vs. Portland State. And in 2021, Oregon State is at Purdue and home vs. Hawaii and Idaho in its three non-conference games.
This week’s opposition could be one of their few chances at victory this season as they play Southern Utah of the Big Sky Conference.
It’s a sad reality for the Beavers right now. It wasn’t too long ago that the program was relatively competitive. Under Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley, Oregon State went to 9 bowl games in 11 years, the highlight of which was a Fiesta Bowl victory and an 11-1 season in 2000. Even as recently as 2012, Oregon State had a 9 win season and made it to the Alamo Bowl.
Unfortunately, the program has fallen off a cliff since then with a 7-29 record the last three seasons and two 0-9 campaigns in the Pac 12. In recent years, Oregon State has periodically scheduled top shelf non-conference opponents like Boise State in 2016, Michigan in 2015, and Wisconsin in 2012 and 2011.
Is there any real upside to playing schools like Ohio State for Oregon State? Probably not. Sure a million and change is a nice payday to make the trek east, but if that’s the priority then Oregon State might as well be playing in the FCS. The Beavers could be one of the worst power five programs in the country this year and face a years-long rebuilding project.
Getting beat by 40 or 50 points isn’t going to likely boost anyone’s morale around the program. It’s just incredibly rare to hear anyone actually admit that fact in public. If Oregon State is looking to add excitement to the program, maybe the Beavers should just go ahead and schedule Kansas in a “Loser Leaves FBS” game and see what happens.