By DWIGHT JAYNES
SAN ANTONIO -- Oregon State will forever look back on its 2012 Alamo Bowl with a sense of regret. This was a very good chance to finish up a wonderful comeback season on a winning note.
A chance for a 10-win season and a victory over a program with a rich tradition and reputation.
Instead, the Beavers were left shaking their heads and trying to figure out what in the world happened to them. With 10 minutes to play in the game, OSU had a 10-point lead. It lost 31-27.
The Beaver defense dominated the first quarter and a good part of the entire first half, which ended with Oregon State in a 20-10 lead that should have been higher.
Texas opened this game seemingly unsure just how well it was going to play and whether it could even sustain anything against the Beavers.
Texas didn't have a first down in the first quarter and scored early in the second quarter only because the Beavers lined up offside on a Longhorn punt, handing Texas its initial first down of the game and setting up a Marquise Goodwin 64-yard run on the following play.
The other Longhorn score came on a field goal after a brutal Cody Vaz interception -- a late Christmas present, for sure.
The Beavers rushed for 111 yards in the first half and the Longhorns couldn't seem to figure out the answer to OSU's run game. Storm Woods finished the game with 118 yards on 21 carries but carried the ball just six times in the second half.
"I would say that in the second half we never really did get back to running the ball like we did in the first half," Oregon State Coach Mike Riley said. "We took some bad plays on first down."
The Beavers lost a chance for at least three more points in the final seconds of the first half. Vaz competed a 14-yard pass to Brandin Cooks that carried to the Texas 32 and seemed to earn the Beavers a first down. At least it was close enough to measure.
Instead, the officials spotted the ball and the Beavers allowed at least seven seconds to drain off the clock, even though they had a timeout left. Stopping the clock early would have meant another play perhaps, or at least a shot at a 49-yard field goal by Trevor Romaine, who has been deadly this season.
"I kept hearing in my ear from upstairs it was a first down," Riley said. "So I wanted to spike the ball and run another play. Then by the time I figured out what was happening, I asked for a measurement and they wouldn't do it. I should have used my timeout."
The second half turned into a living nightmare for Vaz. He was sacked 10 times in the game for an incredible total of 81 yards lost attempting to pass. He was also intercepted twice and rushed hard all night long. He appeared to have trouble reading the defense in the first half but after the intermission he was running for his life.
At the end, he was battered and bruised.
"It's definitely a game that we feel that we let slip away," Vaz said. "We don't take anything away from Texas. Like Storm said, they're a really good team. But I think we definitely let this one slip out of our hands."
I thought the Beavers were not nearly as committed to the run in the second half as they should have been, against a team that allowed about 200 yards a game on the ground throughout the season. It made no sense.
On OSU's first possession of the third quarter, Woods rushed twice for 11 yards but the Beavers attempted three passes before punting.
Then, on the next drive, Vaz completed a 12-yard screen pass before being sacked and throwing a pick. Then on the third second-half possession, OSU saw Vaz get sacked for a seven-yard loss on first down, got a seven-yard rush from Markus Wheaton on second down but then an incomplete pass on third down before punting again.
There just wasn't a stern enough commitment to running the ball. The Beavers couldn't help themselves -- they just had to throw it. And even then, Wheaton and Cooks caught only three balls apiece.
All in all, it was still a very successful season for the Beavers in light of last year's disaster. The Beavers bounced back and made themselves relevant again. They used the disappointment of last season as motivation for a big year.
And if that's what they like to do, they'll have no trouble finding enough disappointment Saturday night to motivate them again. !function(d,s,id)var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)0;if(!d.getElementById(id))js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="platform.twitter.comwidgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);(document,"script","twitter-wjs")