TEMPE, Ariz. Oregon States remarkable rise from pitiful to powerhouse is complete.
The brash, belligerent, fifth-ranked Beavers backed up their pregame boasts and then some last night in a 41-9 rout of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
"We got our butt kicked," Notre Dame coach Bob Davie said. "We got outcoached, we got outplayed."
Oregon State, college footballs laughingstock for more than a quarter-century, handed the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish their worst bowl defeat since a 40-6 loss to Nebraska in the 1973 Orange Bowl.
"What can you say?" Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson said. "We came out and played in all three phases about as well as we can play."
Jonathan Smith, the 5-foot-10 former walk-on who was mistaken for the team manager when Erickson first saw him, completed 16 of 24 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns, then sat out the final quarter.
"Nerves played no part in it," Smith said. "We were more excited than nervous, and we were clicking from the start."
It was one of the most humiliating nights ever for college footballs most storied program. Only a late touchdown against the Beavers reserves prevented it from being the worst Notre Dame loss in 24 bowl appearances.
Had Oregon State (11-1) not committed a Fiesta Bowl and school record 18 penalties for 174 yards, it would have been even more one-sided as the plodding Irish (9-3) were no match for the speed of the hard-hitting Beavers.
"We had some dumb penalties," Erickson said, "but were a very aggressive football team. Thats just how we play and just how we are."
The Beavers, who in 1999 ended their NCAA-record streak of 28 consecutive losing seasons, had a 446 to 155 advantage in total yards and held Notre Dame to 17 yards rushing.
Oregon State linebacker Darnell Robinson, the defensive player of the game, forced a fumble and intercepted a pass to set up two touchdowns in the Beavers 29-point third quarter.
"Their defense was on top of everything we were doing," Notre Dame running back Julius Jones said. "Its kind of hard to execute when theyre calling out the plays were going to run."
Chad Johnson caught touchdown passes of 74 and 4 yards, but he got away with a big mistake on the first one when officials didnt see him drop the ball two yards short of the goal line.
Ken Simonton, Oregon States big-talking 5-foot-8 tailback, gained 85 yards on 18 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown run. In the process, he broke his own single-season school rushing record.
Notre Dames 18-year-old freshman quarterback Matt LoVecchio, under extreme pressure most of the night, threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball away all in the third quarter. LoVecchio completed 13 of 33 passes for 138 yards. He was sacked six times.
LoVecchio, who was 7-0 as a starter going into the game, had thrown just one interception and Notre Dame had just eight turnovers tying an NCAA record through the regular season. The Irish had five turnovers against the Beavers.
The Irish, criticized for getting a Bowl Championship Series bid over teams ranked ahead of them in the BCS standings, lost their fifth consecutive bowl game.
The Beavers had a 278 to 98 advantage in yardage at halftime, but led just 12-3.
Any doubts ended, though, with four touchdowns in a span of 7:10 in the third quarter.
The most interesting play was Johnsons long touchdown catch. He raced down the sidelines and casually dropped the ball as if he had crossed the goal line. But television replays clearly showed he was two yards short of the end zone.
No official saw it, though, and the touchdown put Oregon State up 12-0 with 4:18 to play in the half.
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