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Oregon State rides its backup quarterback’s great performance and a little luck to a big win

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(Associated Press)

This was a heck of a win for Oregon State, and a special one for Cody Vaz as well.

Vaz, a junior who was making his first start since high school, completed 20-of-32 passes for 332 yards against a BYU defense that had given up just 10 points in its previous three games. If Oregon State was worried its potential dream season was in danger when starting quarterback Sean Mannion needed knee surgery, a 42-24 win against the Cougars should calm some fears.

The day belonged to Vaz.

Mike Riley was so confident in his backup quarterback, he figured his team would win at BYU:

"We're going to go win the game with Cody," Riley said before the game, according to the Associated Press. "Cody's a good quarterback and he's been preparing for this for a long time. He'll be good and we'll be ready to go."

There wasn't any real reason for that confidence, considering Vaz hadn't thrown a pass since 17 unimpressive attempts as a freshman in 2010, and he was replacing a quarterback who had been one of the best in the Pac-12 as the Beavers rushed out to a 5-0 start.

But Riley sees Vaz in practice and his confidence was rewarded as Vaz made big passes downfield like he has been Oregon State's starter for years. Oh, and a little luck didn't hurt.

Oregon State got two great bounces. With the score tied early in the fourth quarter, Vaz threw a pass that was batted at the line of scrimmage. But it was batted up in the air, and instead of finding a BYU defender, Oregon State's Colby Prince boxed out like a basketball player and grabbed the go-ahead touchdown:

That play was routine compared to the touchdown that sealed Oregon State's sixth straight win. BYU quarterback Riley Nelson's throw bounced off a prone Cougars' receiver, who tipped it up right into the hands of Jordan Poyer, who got a gift pick six:

Nothing wrong with catching a couple lucky bounces. Also nothing wrong with a backup quarterback having the kind of performance that will be remembered by Oregon State fans for many years to come.

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