Beavers pop into Top 25 at No. 20

CORVALLIS — The weekend started out well for Oregon State, and then got even better.

After wide receiver Damola Adeniji got engaged to his longtime girlfriend during pregame senior day festivities, Oregon State routed Washington 48-21 behind Jacquizz Rodgers' 159 yards rushing and Sean Canfield's four touchdown passes.

The Beavers won for the fifth time in six games. When it was over, they got the news that the Pacific-10 Conference race was shaking out favorably for them. Stanford likely ending Southern California's eight-year run of conference titles, and Arizona lost to California.

On Sunday, the Beavers (7-3, 5-2) entered the Top 25 at No. 20.

Added up, Oregon State is right in the thick of a Rose Bowl race with road games at lowly Washington State and current conference leader No. 11 Oregon.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about (the Rose Bowl), especially with the past two weeks and what happened around the conference," said Canfield, the leading passer in the Pac-10 with an average of 256.6 yards per game.

It appears Oregon State is in the midst of one its trademark late-season runs. The Beavers won eight of their last nine in 2006 and seven of eight in 2007 and 2008. Wins in their final two games would put the Beavers in a least a tie for the conference title, and then it would be a matter of tiebreakers.

Coach Mike Riley cautioned about thinking that far ahead. He referenced last season, when the Beavers entered the Civil War with a chance to win the conference, only to get thrashed 65-38 by Oregon.

"We're in the race to win next week, that's what we're in the race for," he said. "We had a big win at Cal last week and that made this bigger and the next one will be bigger yet. That's the way it is if you win big games — they just get bigger."

Rodgers, a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season against the Huskies. He expressed what was a common sentiment with his teammates about the Rose Bowl possibilities.

"We talk about it amongst the players because it is so close," he said. "But we know we have to handle what is in front of us and that's Washington State."

If the Beavers play as well as they did against the Huskies, they shouldn't have much to worry about against the Cougars, who are winless in the conference this year after a 43-7 loss to UCLA.

Quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, starting in place of injured Jeff Tuel, threw interceptions on the first three series and the Cougars lost their seventh game in a row. With exception to a 27-14 loss to shaky Arizona State on Oct. 10, the Cougars have not been in any conference game this season.

The Beavers, on the other hand, were a force on offense, defense and special teams Saturday. It was the defense, which had been an impediment at times this season, which really shined.

The Beavers frustrated mobile Husky quarterback Jake Locker, sacking him four times and holding him to minus-13 yards rushing. Linebacker Keaton Kristick intercepted Locker early in the game to set up the Beavers' first touchdown.

"Defensively, we were all over them and we never lost focus," Riley said. "It seemed very workmanlike and passionate."

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