Oregon State had an unenviable task entering Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
Not only were the Beavers coming off a 1-11 season and breaking in a new coaching staff, they had to contend with an Ohio State team angry about the Urban Meyer suspension.
All things considered, Oregon State’s performance in its 77-31 loss wasn’t the unmitigated disaster the Beavers may have feared.
>> Read more: Ohio State defeats Oregon State, 77-31 in season opener
“We can take some things from that,” coach Jonathan Smith said. “We weren’t happy with giving up that many points, but on both sides there are a lot of things to learn from and be encouraged by.”
The Beavers scored four touchdowns despite losing their top two quarterbacks. Starter Jake Luton left because of concussion-like symptoms after a fumble on a botched snap on the game’s first possession.
Backup Conor Blount didn’t play in the second half after suffering an unspecified injury, forcing Oregon State to turn to Jake Colletto.Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
“To put up 31 points against a defense like that says something about what we can accomplish the rest of the year,” Blount said.
The Beavers scored more than that only twice last year, including against Portland State for their only victory.
Smith comes to his alma mater from Washington, and his creative play-calling kept the Buckeyes off-balance at times.
Running back Artavis Pierce was a highlight for Oregon State. He gained 168 yards on 11 carries, including touchdown runs of 80 and 78 yards early in the third quarter.
But Oregon State had little success stopping Ohio State’s offense.
“That’s a great offense on the other side,” linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray said. “We had a lot of opportunities defensively. If we’d have been more locked in, we could have gotten some third-down stops and gotten them off the field a few times. But we did some good things that we can use going into next week.
“They’re top-five in the country for a reason. They’re a big-time team. They just kept pounding at us. We had some good plays, but not enough in the end.”