Bloss scheduled tryouts in the fall of 1893 in an attempt to assemble a football team. By mid-October, he had found 17 players that would make up the first football team in Oregon State's history. The team was a hodge podge of young men in Corvallis. Four players were not even students, including Coach Bloss. One was a high school junior and another was a faculty member.
The original "stadium" that SAC played it's first games on was an open grass lot with a fence around its perimeter. The field ran east and west. In 1896 or 1897, bleachers were constructed for the south side, which was designated the home team's side, and then sometime around 1899-1901, bleachers were built for the visitors on the north side of the field. It was known as College Field on Lower Campus.
The first game was played on November 11, 1893 at 2:00pm at College Field on Lower Campus against Albany College. Over 500 spectators who paid a dime admission cheered on SAC to 62-0 win, a blowout by today's standards but even worse considering touchdowns were only worth four points at the time. Brady F. Burnett scored Oregon State's first touchdown in school history on a fumble return.
Norcross played quarterback for Fielding Yost's "Point a Minute" Michigan Wolverines from 1903-1905. The Wolverines went 33-1-1 during that time. Although an offensive player at Michigan, his greatest contribution west of the Rockies was the introduction of the concept of the linebacker.
In 1906, the game was changing. In an attempt to cut down on the alarming number of deaths and serious injuries, the forward pass was legalized. In addition, the game was shortened from 70 minutes to 60 and the yards to gain for a first down increased from five yards to 10 yards. Seven men were required to be on the line. However, not everything was changing; touchdowns were still worth five points and field goals were worth four.
Six games into the 1906 season, Oregon Agricultural found themselves 4-0-2, outscoring their six opponents 77-0. Only Willamette University stood in the way between them and an undefeated season. Willamette had other ideas, kicking a 23-yard field goal midway through the first half. The four points proved to be the only points either team would score. Despite the result, Oregon Agricultural students marched throughout the streets of Salem chanting Oregon Agricultural fight songs.
Oregon Agricultural started off the 1907 season winning their first four games, when a familiar friend, Willamette, made a return call to Corvallis. Oregon Agricultural proceeded to pay back their friends from the north by outscoring them 42-0. The win set up arguably the most anticipated game west of the Rockies, the Coast Championship. Undefeated Oregon Agricultural traveled south to the sunshine of California to battle a regional power, undefeated St. Vincent's College, on Thanksgiving Day. The game marked the first time Oregon Agricultural had travelled south of Berkeley.
Although Oregon Agricultural had outscored their opponents 127-0 in five games, most of the southern California media walked away surprised by the result, another Oregon Agricultural shut out. The 10-0 win cemented Oregon Agricultural's "pristine" season and the unofficial championship of the Western United States. They were undefeated, untied, and unscored upon. This "pristine" season has never, and most likely will never be repeated.
When the team returned home to Corvallis, 3000 turned out to greet them, around the combined population of the town and the school. In a much more joyous celebration than the season-ender the year before, the band led the team and the 3000 from downtown to the college for the celebration of the young century.
The 1908 season started off much the same as the previous two years. Oregon Agricultural started off 4-0-1, outscoring their opponents 73-0, including a 28-0 rout of Willamette. In the first 18 games under F.S. Norcross, Oregon Agricultural outscored their opponents 287-4, while compiling a 14-1-3 record. It was not to last; their secret was out. Oregon Agricultural dropped their final three games in 1908, including losses to Oregon and Washington. After the season, Oregon Agricultural and Norcross went their separate ways. Norcross would never coach again, leaving his career college football coaching record at 14-4-3, a .738 winning percentage.
In 1910, Oregon defeated the Beavers, as Oregon Agricultural was increasingly called, 12-0 in their first meeting at College Field. It was the third consecutive shutout victory for Oregon in the Civil War. The game served as a prelude to a riot. The fist-fighting was so bad that the 1911 Civil War was cancelled. Since there was still a lot of bad blood between the schools, an Albany cigar-maker, Billy Eagles, proposed Albany as a neutral site to host the 1912 game, a 3-0 Oregon victory. It also served as a host for the 1913 Civil War. It would only be used one more time by the Beavers, to host the vaunted Sun Dodgers from the University of Washington in 1914.
The bright star that was Oregon Agricultural was swiftly setting. The 1912 Civil War loss to Oregon cemented a losing season for the Beavers, snapping a streak of eight consecutive winning seasons. The 1904-1911 winning season streak remains the longest winning season streak in Oregon State history.
As Oregon Agricultural faded, Washington swiftly filled in the void. Their win over Oregon Agricultural in 1908 was their second consecutive victory. From that game on, every Sun Dodger game ended the same, another Washington victory. By the time they arrived in Albany, they had won 39-consecutive games, outscoring their opponents 1331-73. That averages out to be about a 34-2 victory for the Sun Dodgers each time they took the field.
Judging from the past six meetings, there was little indication that the Beavers would stand in the way of victory number 40. From 1908-1911, the Beavers were outscored 109-0 in four meetings with Washington. The Beavers managed a single field goal in a 9-3 loss in Portland in 1912. In 1913, the Sun Dodgers paid the Beavers back in Seattle, beating them 47-0. It would remain the largest margin of victory by Washington over the Beavers until 1991.
The Beavers, however, entered Albany undefeated as well. In the previous two weekends, they had destroyed Willamaette 64-0 and toppled Washington State 7-0 on the Palouse. On paper, they out-sized the favorites from Seattle. Some of the older players also had the memory of 47-0 the year before to use as motivation.
Early in the game, the Beavers caught a break when Mike Hunt, Washington's left end, was ejected for running into the punter. However, Washington was the one threatening early in the first half. Star halfback, "Hap" Miller found himself near the end zone and dove, only to wind up six inches from the goal line. Washington would get no closer. Playing with a ferocity belying a huge underdog seeking revenge, the Beavers proceeded to shut out the vaunted Sun Dodgers offense. By the game's end "Hap" Miller had been knocked cold twice, and the Beavers had pulled off an unbelievable feat, tying Washington and snapping their 39-game winning streak. The streak would stand as the nation's longest for another 42 years.
After the game, the Beavers never returned to Albany. The bleachers around the field were eventually torn down. Today, the site of one of the most monumental upsets in college football is used to play soccer.
The game helped fuel Oregon Agricultural to an undefeated 6-0-2 record. At the end of the season, the Beavers found themselves matched up against the Trojans from Southern California on Thanksgiving Day in Tacoma, Washington. In the Summer of 1914, Europe had exploded in war. Tiny Belgium was invaded by Germany in a German effort to take Paris. As an indirect result, the game had been pushed back and moved in an effort to support a Belgian relief fund sponsered by the Tacoma Commercial Club. The Beavers proceeded to demolish the Trojans en route to a 38-6 victory. It remains the largest margin of victory ever by the Beavers against the Trojans. It also capped off the Beavers last undefeated season.
The 1915 season started off brightly. After three games, the Beavers were 3-0. Their fourth game was a 29-0 loss was to undefeated and untied Washington State. The loss snapped Oregon State's 15 game unbeaten streak, which continues to be the longest streak in Beaver history. Washington State would later go on to finish 7-0 and win the 1916 Rose Bowl against Brown, laying a claim to the national championship. What looked like an even more daunting challenge awaited.
Game five was most of the way across the country in East Lansing, Michigan. Their opponent was the Michigan Aggies, who had pummeled Michigan Wolverines 24-0 in Ann Arbor the week before. Coupled with a train ride spanning two-thirds of the country without the ability to practice, the odds seemed slim at best. Roscoe Fawcett of Portland's Morning Oregonian set the odds at around zero, when he wrote, "One thing is very certain, and that is the Corvallis boys are due for a trimming...and a bad one!"
The 20-0 Beaver victory sent shockwaves across the country. Legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice was moved to write a poem called "The Pacific Slump." A portion went:
"Ah yes, it’s sad to think about the Old Pacific Slump, The way the West has hit the chute and hit it with a bump; But when you speak of things like this in a manner somewhat free, don’t mention it at Michigan or up at MAC; They haven’t any stuff at all to call for autumn boasts, except a team that smeared a team that smashed a team of Yost’s."
The Beavers returned home and thrashed Idaho 40-0 to run their record to 5-1 but dropped their last two games to finish the 1915 season 5-3.
The Beavers' 1916 win in Southern California against the Trojans would be their last victory over the Men of Troy until 1935. Herman Abraham garnered All-American honors in 1916 thanks in part to his play in the game in East Lansing in 1915. The Great War and its call for troops swiftly reduced the Beavers to mediocrity. Only the 1917 and 1921 teams posted winning records. Coaches Joseph Pipall and H. G. Hargiss each only lasted two years. College Field was renamed Bell Field in 1921.
Coach R. B. Rutherford defeated Washington for the first time in 15 years in 1920 and posted a winning record in 1921. However, a losing record in 1922 put his position in jeopardy. Throwing caution to the wind, he took the 4-3-2 Beavers to Hawaii in 1923 for Oregon Agricultural's first games outside of the contiguous United States. The gamble did not pay off as the Beavers dropped a game to the Hawaiian All-Stars, playing their first college team, 14-9, and then another to the University of Hawaii, 7-0. The loss to Hawaii was a huge upset, as Hawaii had only begun playing intercollegiate football in 1920. A rainbow appeared over the field after the game, which led to Hawaii's team being nicknamed the Rainbows. The losses were devastating for a small agricultural school in Oregon, which had to pay to travel to Hawaii and suffered two humiliating defeats and, consequently, a second consecutive losing season, tying their longest losing-season streak to date. Coach R. B. Rutherford resigned as head coach shortly thereafter.
In 1924, the Beavers found themselves without a coach. They received 55 applications for the vacant position, and each was rejected. Instead, the Beavers went out and found Paul Schissler. Schissler had been the coach at tiny Lombard College in Illinois for three years. During that time, he had lost a single game, a 14-0 loss to Notre Dame. The Beavers received three letters of recommendation: one from Major L. Griffith, commissioner of the Big Ten; one from Walter Eckersall, sports editor for the Chicago Tribune; and one from Knute Rockne, coach of Notre Dame. He was hired. The Beaver fans were excited by the new hire. In anticipation, the alumni raised $21,000 to increase seating at Bell Field from 7,000 to 18,000.
The first thing Schissler did was eliminate the Alumni game. This freed up an extra weekend to schedule non-traditional opponents. The 1924 season started well. The Beavers beat Whitman 41-0 and Multnomah A.C. 7-6. However, it quickly soured, as they proceeded to lose five of their last six games to finish with a losing record for a third consecutive season.
Over the next two seasons, the Beavers went 14-3. Their only losses in 1925 were in California, at Stanford, defending Pacific Coast champions, and at USC in the Beavers first game in the Coliseum.
In 1926, the Beavers started fast, outscoring their opponents 166-13. In the fourth game, Oregon Agricultural defeated California in Berkeley, 27-7. The game was noteworthy because it was the Beavers first victory over California ever. In the following game, a pesky Idaho team held the Beavers scoreless until an interception return by quarterback Howard Maple set up a field goal, which proved to be the only points scored by either team. On Veteran's Day, the Trojans Beat Oregon Agricultural 17-7 in Portland. Those would prove to be the last points scored against the Beavers. The Beavers beat Oregon 16-0 in Corvallis. Then, they travelled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to take on the Marquette Golden Avalanche on the following Friday. Marquette had defeated the Kansas Aggies 14-0 and Auburn 19-3 in Birmingham, Alabama, in consecutive weekends leading up to the game against the Beavers. The Golden Avalanche were heralded as one of the top teams in the Midwest. The Beavers left Milwaukee 29-0 winners. The 1926 Beavers outscored their opponents 221-30. Their defense finished first in scoring and tenth overall. The 7-1 record would serve as the Beavers best between the 1914 and 2000 seasons.
In 1927, Oregon Agricultural College became Oregon State Agricultural College, the Oregon State Beavers were born. Oregon State started 1-2 under the new moniker. Game four was at home against Washington State, a 13-6 victory. This marked the last time that John Richard Newton Bell threw his top hat into the Willamette River, which he had done after every Beaver victory in Corvallis since 1894. The Beavers then split the next two games, beating Oregon and losing to Idaho. Their final game was against Carnegie Tech. The year before, Carnegie Tech defeated Notre Dame 19-0, ruining Notre Dame's undefeated season. The Beavers faired slightly better in their 14-14 tie. Carnegie Tech went on to defeat the Irish in the rematch in 1928, 27-7.
In 1928, the Beavers stumbled to a 5-3 record. Game nine was a revolution. It marked the first time a team from the West Coast traveled across the country to play a team from the East Coast. It matched the Beavers against the New York University Violets in Yankee Stadium on Thanksgiving Day. New York was a juggernaut. They were 7-1 with wins over Fordham, 34-7; Rutgers, 48-0; Colgate, 47-6; Missouri, 27-6; and Carnegie Tech, 27-13. Their only loss was a 7-2 affair to an eight-win Georgetown team. Most people did not give the Beavers much of a chance. One New York paper referred to the Beavers as "peasants from the rain belt." At kickoff, they were 3-1 underdogs. New York came out early striking first with an early touchdown, but the Beavers rallied with 19 second quarter points: two touchdown runs by Cecil Sherwood and Carl Gilmore and a touchdown pass from Howard Maple to "Wild Bill" McKalip. The game was revolutionary for the east coast, which was not used to seeing the quantities of the lateral, the forward pass, and the misdirection that the Beavers employed. Another touchdown run by Henry "Honolulu" Hughes put the game out of reach. New York scored late to make the score a more respectible 25-13. The win helped earn Howard Maple All-American honors. It was hailed by many as the upset of the year. Comparing New York to Man o' War, Will Rogers commented on the game in his column letting go of his frustration at what the Oregon apple-knockers had done to his city slickers. When the Beavers returned from New York, Governor Patterson honored them at a dinner in Portland. In Corvallis, 4000 turned out to meet them at the station.
In 1929, the Beavers started off 4-4. Game nine was against the University of Detroit Titans in Detroit. The Titans, the defending national champions, had not lost a game since Notre Dame tripped them up in October 1927. In the two weeks leading up to the Oregon State game, the Titans had travelled to West Virginia and Michigan State and beat them by a combined 61-0. The Beavers beat the Titans 14-7, ending Detroit's 22-game unbeaten streak.
The Beavers started 1930 going 6-3. Two of their three losses were in California, against USC, the defending Pacific Coast champions, at the Coliseum, 27-7, and Stanford, 13-7. The final loss was a 14-7 heartbreaker to Washington State, who would wind up champions of the Pacific Coast Conference. The Beavers capped off their 1930 season by traveling to Soldier Field to play against 5-4 West Virginia. Once again, the Beavers would prove victorious, besting the Mountaineers 12-0 on two "Wild Bill" McKalip touchdowns.
In 1931, Oregon State scheduled Colorado and Utah. For the first time in four years, they would not have to leave the West Coast. The Beavers started off with a 76-0 win over Willamette. This remains the most points scored and largest margin of victory in a Beavers game. The season continued on a high note with a 16-0 victory over Colorado. From there, the Beavers went 4-3-1 beating Utah 12-0.
In 1932, Oregon State had a very ambitious schedule, finishing with games against the Fordham Rams at the Polo grounds and the Detroit Titans in the Motor City five days later on Thanksgiving Day. The Beavers were 4-4 when they played Fordham, but there was no magic left. Oregon State dropped both games losing 8-6 to the Rams and 14-6 to the Titans.
The 1932 season would be Paul Schissler's last. In an effort to save money due in part to the Great Depression, Oregon State attempted to reduce Paul Schissler's salary by $800 per year. He refused the pay cut, resigning to become the coach of the Chicago Cardinals. For the next four years, he coached in Chicago and Brooklyn, compiling a 14-29-3 record. After leaving the NFL's coaching ranks, his most noticeable accomplishment was helping to start the Pro Bowl in 1951.
With the Great Depression in full swing, Oregon State did not look far for their next head coach, promoting Alonzo "Lon" Stiner to the position. The Beavers responded, going 3-0-1 and outscoring their opponents 62-0. Game five was in San Francisco, California, against the San Francisco Dons. Oregon State won 12-7. They also only used 12 players. It was a sign of things to come.
The following weekend pitted the Beavers against the two-time defending national champion Southern California Trojans. The Trojans were riding a 25-game winning streak into the game. They also were riding a 10-game winning streak against Oregon State in which they outscored the Beavers 199-33. They brought around 80 players to Portland to play the Beavers and substituted 18 times; Oregon State brought around 30 players, although they would not need that many.
For three quarters the Beavers defense bent but did not break against the Men of Troy. The Trojans got inside the Beaver 10-yard line twice only to have their drives end on downs. Red Franklin also had three interception in the Beaver red zone to fend off the Trojan attack. Late in the fourth quarter, the Trojans got perhaps their best chance when Haskell Wotkyns broke through the right side. He may have saw the end zone, but he felt Harold Prangle, who tackled Wotkyns at the seven, knocking him out of the game. The Trojans would get no closer. They got the ball back with a couple seconds left and heaved it downfield, hoping for a miracle. Red Franklin was there again for the Beavers. His return almost turned a 0-0 game into a 6-0 victory, but he was finally tackled at the Trojan 47 with no time left. The final score was 0-0, snapping the Trojans 25-game winning streak. The Beavers became the only team to win or tie against a two-time defending champion and use no substitutes. The "Iron Immortals," or "Ironmen" as they became known, were immortalized in a line of Oregon State's fight song, "Men of Iron, their strength will never yield."
The following game, Oregon State's Ironmen beat Washington State 2-0, using only one substitute. The Washington State game is also memorable because it saw the first use of the Pyramid Play. The Beavers also used the play in a 13-3 loss to Oregon, which knocked the Beavers out of the Rose Bowl race. Instead, 5-1-2 Oregon State travelled back to the Polo Grounds for a rematch with Fordham. The Rams were a much better team than the year before. They were 6-1 with wins against West Virginia 20-0 and New York 20-12. They also provided Alabama and Boston College with their only losses in 1933 by a combined score of 34-6. It was generally accepted that a win over the Beavers would secure a berth in the 1934 Rose Bowl, so they naturally were very motivated. However, Oregon State, behind a 94-yard kickoff return by Red Franklin and the successful use of the Pyramid Play, beat the mighty Rams 9-6. The few Beaver fans that had made the cross-country trip were enough to tear down both goalposts The loss knocked Fordham out of the Rose Bowl picture; Columbia went instead.
The season ended with a 22-0 loss at the hands of 7-1 Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, but the two losses were the fewest for the Beavers in seven years.
The 1933 Beavers would be the last to face a Paul Schissler-type schedule. From 1934-1948, Oregon State only would make three trips out of the two time zones of the Pacific Coast Conference.
The Beavers from 1934-1938 amassed a 21-22-7 record. The biggest victory of the era was a 13-7 win over the Trojans in 1935 at the Coliseum. It would be the last such win for the Beavers until 1960. The 1936 team ended Oregon's four-game Civil War winning streak. Perhaps, no season typified the five-year stretch like the 3-3-3 record Oregon State turned in in 1937. The final game was perhaps the worst loss in Beaver history, a 7-0 loss to 2-3-3 Washington State. Oregon State could only eke out one first down.
1939 breathed new life into the program. Oregon State's opener was a 12-0 victory over Stanford. Their next three games were decided by a combined 10 points, all Beaver victories. The 4-0 record earned the Beavers an AP #15 ranking. It was their first appearance in the relatively new poll. At the end of October, Oregon State beat Washington State 13-0, the Beavers' most lopsided win of the young year. It earned them a #11 ranking, which would be their highest until 1956. The next week, the #7 Trojans en route to a national championship came to Portland and beat the Beavers 19-7. It was the most points the Beavers would allow all year and took them out of the Rose Bowl race. Oregon State beat Oregon and California (the Beavers first win over California outside of Berkeley) a combined 40-14 but could only manage a 13-13 tie against #13 UCLA in the Coliseum. However, the 7-1-1 record was good enough for an invitation to play in the 1940 Pineapple Bowl against Hawaii, which the Beavers accepted. Much like in 1923, the Bowl was actually a two-game series in Hawaii. The first was against the Heanlani town team on Christmas Day, which Oregon State won 28-0. On New Years Day, the Beavers hopped out to a 19-0 first quarter lead and never looked back in a 39-6 rout. The nine Beaver victories in the 1939 were the most ever, and the 9-1-1 record would stand as Oregon State's best record in between the 1926 and 2000 seasons.
Despite the defense allowing only 80 points in the nine game slate and posting five shutouts (the most since 1933), the 1940 season proved dissappointing. Oregon State jumped out of the gates 2-0-1, including a tie against the Trojans in the Coliseum but lost to #16 Washington in Seattle. The 19 Husky points were the first of the year. Two more wins over California and UCLA in California and a win over Washington State brought Oregon State's record to 5-1-1. Through the first seven games they allowed only 32 points and had five shutouts. However, the Beavers' record would get no better with losses in their fourth trip to California against the #4 Stanford Indians and the Civil War. The Oregon win would be the Ducks sole Civil War win between 1935 and 1947.
The 1941 season was a peculiar one. For the first time ever, Oregon State was scheduled to play each and every Pacific Coast Conference team. They were the only team to do so in 1941. With the memories of the 1940 Pineapple Bowl victory fading, the Beavers were picked to finish near the bottom of the conference. The season began in the Coliseum against the Trojans. As was often the case, the game ended with a 13-7 Trojan victory. The Beavers responded by beating Washington in Portland, 9-6. After Washington, defending Pacific Coast champion Stanford came to Corvallis with their 13-game winning streak and #2 ranking, having demolished UCLA the previous week 33-0. Oregon State held them scoreless, winning 10-0.
Oregon State had two weeks to prepare for Washington State, but it was not enough as the Cougars shut out the Beavers 7-0. Over the next four weekends, Oregon State was a perfect 4-0, shutting out each opponent, and outscoring them a combined 85-0. In the meantime, Stanford, who had clawed up to #6, lost a shocker to Washington State in California, putting Oregon State back in control of its own Rose Bowl destiny with only one week left in the Pacific Coast Conference season. A Beaver victory would secure a probable Rose Bowl berth. A loss would have muddled things. Theoretically, a five-way tie could develop if Stanford somehow lost to California and Washington was able to beat the Trojans. In such a situation, the league would vote on the representative. Although Oregon State had the most conference victories, Oregon State and Stanford would be tied in conference losses. The Indians could have been elected by the three other California schools to go. However, the scenario seemed far-fetched at the time.
On the final weekend in November, the unthinkable happened. California shocked Stanford, Washington knocked off the Trojans, and the Ducks hopped out to a 7-6 fourth quarter lead against the Beavers. Fullback Joe Day eliminated the debate with a 29-yard scamper to secure the Pacific Conference championship and Rose Bowl birth. The final AP poll ranked Oregon State #12.
At the time, the Pacific Conference champion selected their opponent in the Rose Bowl. #1 Minnesota was ineligible to play in a Bowl game due to Big Nine rules forbidding postseason games. Duke would have been a logical second choice, but Coach Wallace Wade had rubbed a lot of Californians the wrong way due to his antics following his 7-3 loss in the 1939 Rose Bowl. The Southern California media championed Missouri or Fordham. Oregon State responded by inviting Fordham, with whom they had a history, but Fordham turned down the invite to play against Missouri in the Sugar Bowl. Unable to invite their three first choices, the Beavers settled on number two ranked and undefeated Duke Blue Devils, much to the chagrin of Southern California.
On December 7, 1941, the world changed. The United States was forced into World War II because of the suprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On December 14, the Rose Bowl and the Rose Bowl Parade was cancelled, by order of the Army. Many places offered to stage the event, including Norman, Oklahoma, and Atlanta, Georgia. Soldier Field similarly extended invitations to both teams. Instead, Duke invited the Beavers to make their own cross country trip to Durham, North Carolina. Duke Stadium only sat 35,000, but an additional 20,000 seats were brought in for the game from North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest. 56,000 people ultimately crammed in to watch. Rarely getting a chance to see the Rose Bowl in its natrual setting, scores of eastern and southern media also showed up.
Lon Stiner was new to the Rose Bowl, having never coached in one. His only experience in a bowl was the 1940 Pineapple Bowl. Duke was coached by Wallace Wade, for whom Duke Stadium was later renamed. He had already coached in four Rose Bowls, posting a 2-1-1 record. Both teams had impressive defenses. Each had five shutouts, and no team had scored more than 14 points against either team. However, the Blue Devils had the impressive offense, featuring quarterback James Thompson Prothro and were undefeated. Only two teams had stayed within 14 points. They outscored their opponents 311-41, an average of 35-5. Oregon State, on the other hand, had only outscored their opponents 123-33, an average victory of only 14-4. The Beavers took the field as 3-1 underdogs.
Some Duke players insist that they played the game in a deluge; the Beaver players insist that it was merely misty. Whatever the conditions, it was wet, favoring the Beavers. The opening kickoff was mishandled by the Blue Devils and recovered by the Beavers, but Oregon State could not convert. Later in the period, Oregon State's star, Don Durdan, would break the 0-0 tie with a 15-yard scamper. Duke answered in the second quarter with a 3-yard run by Duke's star, Steve Lach. The first half ended with the score knotted at seven.
In the second half, the offenses shined for a brief moment. Partway through the third quarter, Oregon State retook the lead when George Zellick scored on a 31-yard pass from Robert Dethman. Duke immediately answered taking the kickoff and driving for a score to knot the game 14-all. The Beavers quickly answered, when reserve halfback, Gene Gray, hauled in Robert Dethman's 40-yard bomb and outraced two Duke defenders the last 28-yards for the score. Oregon State failed on the conversion though, leaving the door open for a Blue Devil comeback.
In the fourth quarter, the Beavers defense would bend but not break. The 14 points represented the most points scored so far in the season on the Beaver defense, and they did not want to let down the offense which appeared content with 20. Three times, Duke crossed into Beaver territory and three times they came up with no points. The only points scored the rest of the game was by the Duke defense, a safety, when Don Durdan was tackled behind his own goal line.
The 20-16 upset victory sent shockwaves throughout the country. Sid Feder of the Associated Press labeled it the biggest upset in the Rose Bowl's history. Most people south of the Mason-Dixon had expected an easy Duke victory. The player of the game was probably Duke's Steve Lach, who rushed for 129 yards and averaged 47 yards a punt, but the honor went to Dan Durdan. His 54 yards rushing and 44 yards per punt coupled with the Beaver's 20-16 victory carried the day. The game was the first, last, and only Rose Bowl victory for Oregon State and it is the first, last, and only time the Rose Bowl has not been played in Southern California; it was also the last time Duke and Oregon State played each other on the gridiron.
Reality quickly set in. Most of the players for both Duke and Oregon State served in World War II. Duke and Oregon State each lost a halfback later in 1942 as Duke's Walter Griffith Oregon State's Everett Smith made the ultimate sacrifice in the Pacific Theater. The 1942 season proved disappointing; the Beavers could only muster a 4-5-1 season. However, it ended with an unexpected tie with Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan.
Oregon State did not field a team in 1943 and 1944. In 1945, the four Pacific Northwest teams played each other twice. The Beavers went 3-3 in the six games, including a sweep of the Ducks, en route to a 4-4-1 record. The Beavers started off poorly in 1946 with a 50-7 loss to UCLA in the Coliseum. UCLA would go on to win the Pacific Coast championship. Oregon State would not lose another game, finishing 7-1-1, including a 6-0 win over Southern California, the Beaver's only victory over the Trojans between 1935 and 1957.
In 1947 and 1948, Oregon State posted a 10-9-3 record. In 1947, Oregon State lost to Oregon, whose quarterback was one Norman Van Brocklin, but toppled Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, 27-6.
In 1948, Oregon State jumped out to a 2-1-1 record before losing 42-0 to eventual Pacific Coast Champion California. The loss snapped a five game winning streak for the Beavers. It was Oregon State's third consecutive season with a six touchdown loss (albeit each loss was to the eventual Pacific Coast champion). Oregon State had only experienced two more lopsided losses in their history. After losing to California, the Beavers shutout UCLA in the Coliseum 28-0. Following the victory, Oregon State went 0-2-2 with losses Michigan State and Oregon and ties against Washington State and Utah. They closed out the season by beating Nebraska for a second consecutive year, 28-12. The loss to Oregon was particularly damaging. Oregon had not won consecutive Civil Wars since they won four from 1932-1935, and their win earned them a Cotton Bowl invitation. Oregon State, on the other hand, packed for Hawaii and the Pineapple Bowl.
In the Pineapple Bowl, against the Hawaii Rainbows, Bob Krell recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass early in the game, which the Beavers turned into two quick scores: a one-yard run by Any Knuden and a short pass from halfback Ken Carpenter to Dick Twenge. There was plenty of scoring but Oregon State prevailed 47-27. The pass from Carpenter to Twenge would be one of five completed passes for the Beavers, albeit those five completions went for 112 yards. The Beavers outrushed the Rainbows 287-256, but the Rainbows had more passing yards, total yards, and first downs.
Following the bowl game, Lon Stiner was replaced at head coach by LeVerne H. "Kip" Taylor. Many fans thought that Lon Stiner's offense had grown antequated since World War II and that the Beavers needed a change.
Oregon State began the 1949 season 5-3. A notable win was the 63-14 victory over Montana. This was the last Beaver victory over conference rival Montana. Oregon State never lost to Montana in Montana's 26 seasons of Pacific Coast Conference football, although there were two ties.
Game nine for the Beavers was against the #8 Michigan State Spartans in Portland. Michigan State's two losses were to #1 Notre Dame and #5 Michigan. The Spartans were three touchdown favorites and jumped out to a 13-0 lead. Oregon State cut the defecit to six early in the second quarter on a short run by Kenny Carpenter. The half ended with the score 13-7 in favor of the visitors.
Oregon State got the ball first in the second half and scored on their first possession on another Kenny Carpenter run. Lineman and kicker Stan McGuire's extra point attempt was no good. He would make up for it. His 40-yard field goal would be good. After the ensuing Michigan State drive stalled, Stan Mcguire rushed through the Michigan State blockers and blocked the punt, which resulted in a safety and an 18-13 lead for the Beavers. Michigan State would hold and respond with a drive ending in a touchdown and a 20-18 lead. Oregon State would score once more. Stan McGuire's extra point would cap the scoring for the game, a 25-20 Beaver victory. Stan McGuire was named lineman of the week for his play. His seven points single-handedly turned a Beaver loss into a Beaver victory. The following weekend, Oregon State beat Oregon in Eugene to finish 7-3. The year, however, would end in great sadness when Stan McGuire died in car accident. He was named captain of the 1950 season.
1950 started off in East Lansing, a 38-13 Michigan State victory, the magic was gone. From 1950-1954, Oregon State went 13-33. Excluding the identical 4-1 records Kip Taylor put up against conference doormats Idaho and Oregon, the Beavers went 5-31 in the five-year stretch. Two wins were over Utah. One win was a 20-0 victory over Independent Montana in 1950. It would be the last Beaver game against Montana for more than three decades.
In 1951, Oregon State parlayed a close loss against Michigan State and win over Utah into a #15 national ranking. After a win over Idaho, the #14 Trojans came to Portland to battle the Beavers; the Men of Troy left 28-6 victors. In 1952, a dejected 8000 watched Idaho manhandle Oregon State 27-6 in what proved to be Bell Field's final game. It was Idaho's first win over Oregon State since 1938 and their biggest since 1924.
In 1953, Oregon State failed to score a point until a 19-0 late October victory over Idaho in game number six. The next game was in East Lansing against #6 Michigan State, their first year in the Big Ten. The Spartans won 34-6. This was the final year in the six-year feud between the two teams. Michigan State went 5-1, but two of their victories came by a combined nine points. The teams have only played one game against each other since. Two weeks later, 13,500 showed up to watch Oregon State beat Washington State in the very first game at Parker Stadium. (Each home games since the Idaho loss had been played in Portland.) The Beavers won again the following weekend against the Ducks.
In 1954, Oregon State won their first game against Idaho, running their winning streak to three games. It was their longest winning streak since the final four games in 1949. They would not win another in 1954, losing eight straight, including a 33-14 loss against Oregon, snapping a five game winning streak against the Ducks. Kip Taylor was replaced by James Thompson "Tommy" Prothro, the assistant coach at UCLA.
Oregon State responded to the coaching change by beating Brigham Young University and Stanford a combined 43-0. The Beavers limped through a two-game trip to California, losing to the defending Pacific Coast Champion, UCLA, in the Coliseum, 38-0, and Pacific, 13-7. Oregon State welcomed the return to the Northwest, sweeping three games against Idaho and the Washington schools. The Beavers then traveled back to California, stealing one from California 16-14, Oregon State's first win in Berkeley since 1946. The win earned the Beavers a #19 AP ranking. The following Saturday, Oregon ended Oregon State's four-game winning streak 28-0.
Starting in January, slush funds were uncovered at Washington, UCLA, Southern California, and California. The slush funds were used to pay recruits, players, and ringers. Some of the funds had been in operation since the 1920s, making Oregon State's accomplishments from the 1920s to the 1950s all the more amazing. Southern California, UCLA, and Washington were all put on multi-year probation.
It is widely believed that Red Sanders had imported the idea that collegiate players were really semipro athletes from Vanderbilt, when UCLA hired him as their head coach in 1949. He quickly turned a struggling UCLA team into a juggernaut, compiling a 66-19-1 record. Many of the other schools were forced to engage in the same type of gross rules violations merely to stay competitive. When Oregon went on probation in 1951 for getting caught paying recruits and players, they invited the Pacific Coast Conference to investigate UCLA.
Oregon State faced a daunting schedule in 1956; their first three games were on the road against Missouri, Southern California, and Iowa. Since the Rose Bowl in 1942, Oregon State had only posted one win east of Mountain Time Zone. The trip to Missouri, however, ended well, a 19-13 Beaver victory. Oregon State then traveled southwest to the Coliseum against the #6 Trojans. Southern California left the victors with a 21-13 win. The final game in the three-game swing was against #20 Iowa. Iowa would nip Oregon State, 14-13.
Oregon State would rebound in Corvallis, beating California 21-13. The Beavers continued winning, beating UCLA and the Washington schools. On November 10, they travelled to California to play Stanford. The winner would control its own Rose Bowl destiny. 65,000 turned out in what would be the most attended Oregon State victory up until that point, as the Beavers prevailed 20-9. The game would remain the most attended Oregon State’s victory for more than four decades.
The Beavers would end up run the winning streak to six, which was Oregon State's longest since 1942. By virtue of their sixth victory, 14-10 over Idaho, Oregon State clinched a Rose Bowl berth, since no team off of probation could catch them. As a result, the Civil War was largely superfluous, and it showed when the Beavers and Ducks ended the game knotted at 14. However, a Southern California upset against UCLA ensured there would be no co-champion.
Oregon State's Rose Bowl opponent was #3 Iowa. Their only loss was to Michigan, who wound up #7 in the country. Following the loss, Iowa defeated #6 and undefeated Minnesota, #6 Ohio State, and Notre Dame in consecutive weekends a combined 61-8. The Rose Bowl featured the first matchup of two teams that had played each other earlier in the same season. It was Oregon State's first trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. It would not prove as enjoyable as the Durham, North Carolina, version. Iowa went into the locker rooms up 21-6 at halftime. In the third quarter, they tacked on another touchdown, which put the game out of reach, holding on for a 35-19 victory. Oregon State's three fumbles and poor tackling are generally cited as keys to the loss.
In the offseason, the membership of each of the three teams on probation was put to a vote. Southern California and Washington each received nine votes in favor of membership. UCLA's vote was much closer. On one side were the four slush fund teams--California, Southern California, UCLA, and Washington--each campaigning for UCLA's membership. On the other side were Oregon and Washington State, who were each pushing for UCLA to be expelled from the conference, due to their failing to make any worthwhile changes. Idaho and Stanford lined up behind Oregon and Washington State, making Oregon State the deciding vote. Whether Tommy Prothro helped sway Oregon State on the positives of his former employer is unknown, but Oregon State was the only team to break rank and vote with the slush fund teams to keep UCLA a member of the Pacific Coast Conference.
In 1957, for the second consecutive year, Oregon State played its first three games outside of Corvallis, Oregon. The first game pitted the #13 Beavers and the #19 Trojans in Portland, Oregon. Oregon State prevailed 20-0. It was the Beavers first win over the Trojans in 11 years. The following in Lawrence, Kansas and Evanston, Illinois both ended in Beaver victories by a combined 56-19 margin. The wins propelled Oregon State to a #7 ranking. The Beavers would beat Idaho 20-0, which ran their unbeaten regular season streak to 11, Oregon State’s longest such streak since 1915. The Beavers concluded October by travelling to the Coliseum and Seattle, each game ending in a loss.
After the consecutive losses to UCLA and Washington, Oregon State won against Washington State, California, and Stanford. At the time, there was a no-repeat rule in the Pacific Coast Conference, which precluded Oregon State from playing in the game. As such, the Beavers win over Stanford and the Duck’s win over the Trojans clinched a Rose Bowl berth for Oregon. Knowing that, the Beavers still made the trip against the #15 Ducks, winning 10-7. Oregon would go on to lose to the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes by an identical 10-7 score.
In the offseason California, Southern California, and UCLA convinced Washington to leave the Pacific Coast Conference with them. This put Stanford in an awkward situation. They could remain in a conference featuring Idaho, Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington State with an expiring Rose Bowl contract, or they could join the slush fund schools in a new conference and, in all probability keep the Rose Bowl contract.
In 1958, Oregon State started off the season ranked #12, their highest ranking to start a season in 16 years. The Trojans quickly pushed them out of the polls with a 21-0 victory in the Coliseum. The following day, team co-captain, Buzz Randall, died of leukemia. The Beavers went 6-3 the rest of 1958, including a 14-8 victory over California, the eventual Pacific Coast champion.
In the offseason, Stanford joined the slush fund teams in a vote to dissolve the Pacific Coast Conference. The five created a new conference known as the Athletic Association of Western Universities, or the Big Five. In 1959, the newly independent Oregon State Beavers went 3-7. The highlight of the season was a 15-7 win over the #15 Oregon Ducks. In early 1960, Tommy Prothro convinced basketball standout, Terry Baker, to join the football team.
Oregon State started the 1960 season by travelling to the Coliseum to play the #6 Trojans. The Trojans were the defending Big Five champion and the Beavers had not beaten the Trojans in the Coliseum since 1935; Southern California had outscored Oregon State 302-72 during that span. Despite recent history, the Beavers shocked the Trojans 14-0. The win propelled Oregon State to a #10 ranking. The following weekend in Iowa City, Iowa, the Beavers fell to #19 Iowa 22-12, knocking Oregon State out of the polls.
Oregon State went 5-2-1 the rest of the way, including a 20-6 win over Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana, and a 14-14 tie in Corvallis against the #19 Ducks. The Beavers went 2-2 against the Big Five, losing against California and Washington by a combined nine points. The 6-3-1 record earned Oregon State a Gotham Bowl invite, which was to be held in Yankee Stadium. They were slated to play Holy Cross. Upon receiving Oregon State’s acceptance, Holy Cross was uninvited. Despite attempting to invite Colorado, Syracuse, Tennessee, and Holy Cross a second time, no opponent was ever found. Oregon State did not make the trip and the game was never played. The Gotham Bowl lasted two more seasons before folding.
Terry Baker accounted for 1473 yards in 1960 as a single wing halfback, a Beaver record. In 1961, in order to maximize Terry Baker’s talent, Tommy Prothro scrapped the single wing offense in favor of the T formation and installed Terry Baker as quarterback. Oregon State College also became Oregon State University. The first game pitted #10 Syracuse and #17 Oregon State in Portland, Oregon. The game featured two future Heisman winners. Ernie Davis and Terry Baker accounted for 18 of the 27 points scored, a 19-8 Syracuse victory. The Beavers went 5-4 the rest of the way, splitting with the Big Five. In the offseason, Washington State joined the Big Five, creating the Big Six.
The first four games of 1962 were away from Corvallis. The first featured Iowa State in Portland, Oregon, a 39-35 Oregon State victory. The following weekend, the Beavers fell to Iowa 28-8 in Iowa City, Iowa. In the first weekend in October, Oregon State travelled south to Stanford to take on the #12 Indians. The Beavers left 27-0 winners. The following weekend, #7 Washington came to Portland, Oregon, and left 14-13 winners. The narrow defeat would be the Beavers’ last in 1962.
At the end of October, #19 West Virginia came to Portland, Oregon. The Beavers pummeled the Mountaineers 51-22. Following two wins on the Palouse, against Idaho and Washington State, and a win in Corvallis against Colorado State, Oregon State climbed to #18.
At the end of November, Oregon came to Corvallis. The Ducks were 6-2-1. Their two losses were in Columbus, Ohio, and Austin, Texas, against the Buckeyes and the undefeated Southwest Conference Champion Longhorns. The winner would clinch the best record in the state. Oregon jumped out to a 17-3 lead. The Beavers kicked a field goal before halftime to cut the lead 17-6. Late in the third quarter, Oregon State scored to cut the lead to four. In the waning seconds, Terry Baker threw a 13-yard pass to Danny Espalin to win the game for the Beavers, 20-17. At the game’s end, he had amassed 4,980 yards in total offense, the second most in college football history. His 2276 total yards in 1962 were the second most ever and the most that year by more than three football fields.
November 27, 1962 was an auspicious day for Oregon State. The Beavers accepted a bid to play in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania against the Villanova Wildcats in the Liberty Bowl. Terry Baker also was informed that he had won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first player west of the Pecos River to win the award. On his trip to New York City, he met John F. Kennedy in Philadelphia at the Army-Navy game. The award was presented in New York City by Robert F. Kennedy.
Ten days later, Oregon State took the field against Villanova. The Beavers, with Terry Baker, were the clear favorites, but the Wildcats were no pushover. Oregon State and Villanova shared identical 7-2 records. The Wildcats out-sized Oregon State at most positions, and they also had more bowl experience. They were the defending Sun Bowl champions. In an era of only 11 bowl games, winning a bowl game was quite an achievement. Finally, the game was played in Villanova’s backyard, 30 minutes to the southeast in Philadelphia Municipal Stadium.
The temperature was 17 degrees at kickoff, keeping all but 17,048 from showing up in the 105,000 seat stadium. However, 27 million watched on television. If the game were held in 2008, it would have been the fourth most watched bowl game. Villanova got the first break of the game in the first quarter when William Sherlock’s 52-yard punt was downed nine inches from the Oregon State end zone by Larry Glueck. The Wildcats stacked the box with eight men, expecting something up the middle; however, Terry Baker took it around the left end. He shook off two Villanova defenders in the end zone but broke away. At the seven, he paid back Glueck with a stiff arm at the seven. From there, he turned on the afterburners and outran the Wildcats down the field for a touchdown. Baker’s two-point pass was broken up, keeping the score 6-0. The 99-yard run remains the longest play from scrimmage in bowl and Oregon State history.
Villanova responded by marching into Oregon State’s red zone, but the Beaver defense forced a turnover to end the threat. Villanova spent most of the game marching between the twenties. Oregon State’s defense would eventually stiffen and stop the threat. The Wildcats broke into the Beavers’ red zone with a couple minutes left. They made their way down to the 11 before the Beavers finally forced a fumble to extinguish the Wildcats’ final threat. Villanova wound up outgaining Oregon State 309-299 with 20 first downs to the Beavers’ 11. The Beavers defense forced six Wildcat turnovers. Baker wound up rushing for 137 yards and passing for 123 yards. The 260 yards accounted for 87% of Oregon State’s offense.
In January, he was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, becoming the only Heisman Trophy winner to win the award. Other winners in the 1960s include Arnold Palmer, Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, and Bill Russell. Sonny Liston was also under strong consideration for the award. Later in 1963, Terry Baker led the Oregon State basketball team to the Final Four. The last Liberty Bowl held in Philadelphia was in 1963. In 1964, they moved the game indoors in Atlantic City, NJ. In 1965, the game was moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where it has been played ever since.
1963 started well for Oregon State, with the Beavers outscoring Colorado and Utah by a combined 70-20. The quick start propelled Oregon State to a #22 ranking. #14 Baylor came to Portland, Oregon, in early October to play the undefeated Beavers. Oregon State won 22-15 to stretch their winning streak to 10, the Beavers’ longest-ever streak. Baylor would go on to win the Bluebonnet Bowl. The following weekend, Oregon State travelled to Seattle, Washington, to play Washington. The Huskies won 34-7. The win helped propel Washington to a Big Six championship and Rose Bowl berth. Oregon State meanwhile lost four of their final six games to finish 5-5. The Beavers split in its games with the Big Six.
On April 1, 1964, Oregon and Oregon State were unanimously invited to join the Athletic Association of Western Universities. The first four games of 1964 were away from Corvallis. The first was in Evanston, Illinois, which ended in a 7-3 Northwestern victory. However, the Beavers found more success in Boulder, Colorado, and Waco, Texas, against Colorado and Baylor with two seven point victories.
In the conference opener against Washington in Portland, Oregon, Oregon State paid Washington back with a 9-7 victory. In the first game in Corvallis, Oregon State defeated Idaho 10-7. The 4-1 start earned the Beavers a #17 ranking. Oregon State defeated #8 Syracuse 31-13 in Portland, Oregon, paying back the Orangemen for a 31-8 victory the year before in New York.
The following two weeks, Oregon State beat Washington State and Indiana by double digits. The wins propelled the Beavers to #8, but, that Saturday, Stanford beat Oregon State in California, 16-7. The final scheduled game was the Civil War. #10 Oregon was 7-1-1, a win away from their best season in more than three decades. Oregon State, on the other hand, was a win away from a conference championship. With a win and a little help, the Beavers would be headed to the Rose Bowl. The 1964 Civil War featured best teams in more than three decades.
Oregon jumped out to a 6-0 lead. With 54 seconds left, Oregon State’s Booker Washington scored from one-yard out. Steve Clark added the extra point for a 7-6 Beaver win. The conference voted Oregon State champions over Southern California. The Beavers had a better record, a better record against the Big Ten (by virtue of the 24-14 over Indiana in Corvallis), and Southern California had gone two years prior.
Oregon State’s opponent was #4 Michigan. Michigan had beaten two top 10 teams throughout the year, and their only loss was by a single point to Purdue. Oregon State started the game as 11-point underdogs. Oregon State’s second January trip to Southern California would not be as enjoyable as the first. Winning the conference by vote over the Trojans was very unpopular in Pasadena, California. The reception was much less warm for the players and fans. Partway through the game, the game had to be suspended because one of the upset Trojans set off a smoke bomb on the field.
The game started off well for Oregon State. The scoreless tie was broken in the second quarter when Oregon State’s Doug McDougal hauled in a five-yard pass from Paul Brothers. However, the score seemed to wake Michigan from their slumber. They scored twice on 40+ yard runs to take a 12-7 lead at halftime. Michigan tacked on two more touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 27-7 lead and put the game out of reach.
Shortly after the game ended, Tommy Prothro accepted the head coaching job at UCLA, leaving Oregon State without a coach.
Oregon State has played in 13 postseason bowl games. They have also played in the Mirage Bowl, a regular season bowl game, for a total of 14 bowl game appearances. This does not include an invitation to play in the Gotham Bowl in 1960, when no opponent was able to be found for them. The Beavers are 9-5 in bowl game appearances.
|Year and bowl||Winning team||Losing team||Result|
|1940 Pineapple Bowl||Oregon State||39||Hawaii||6||Won|
|1942 Rose Bowl||Oregon State||20||Duke||16||Won|
|1949 Pineapple Bowl||Oregon State||47||Hawaii||27||Won|
|1957 Rose Bowl||Iowa||35||Oregon State||19||Lost|
|1962 Liberty Bowl||Oregon State||6||Villanova||0||Won|
|1965 Rose Bowl||Michigan||34||Oregon State||7||Lost|
|1980 Mirage Bowl||UCLA||34||Oregon State||3||Lost|
|1999 Oahu Bowl||Hawaii||23||Oregon State||17||Lost|
|2001 Fiesta Bowl||Oregon State||41||Notre Dame||9||Won|
|2002 Insight Bowl||Pittsburgh||38||Oregon State||13||Lost|
|2003 Las Vegas Bowl||Oregon State||55||New Mexico||14||Won|
|2004 Insight Bowl||Oregon State||38||Notre Dame||21||Won|
|2006 Sun Bowl||Oregon State||39||Missouri||38||Won|
|2007 Emerald Bowl||Oregon State||21||Maryland||14||Won|