Published October 21, 2012
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Travis Wilson took the blame.
Utah's freshman quarterback was apologetic after his team's 21-7 loss to No. 8 Oregon State on Saturday night.
"They played hard, they played physical, but ultimately it was my fault. I didn't take care of the football and threw two picks," he said. "And that just can't happen."
Wilson threw for 172 yards and a touchdown but also threw those two interceptions in his second start for Utah (2-5, 0-4 Pac-12).
He passed for 220 yards in his first career start last week, a 21-14 loss to UCLA. Utes coach Kyle Wittingham decided to stick with Wilson this week over senior Jon Hays, who started three games this season after Jordan Wynn went down with a career-ending shoulder injury.
"He's just a freshman. A true freshman," Wittingham said. "There's going to be some growing pains with him. We think based on two ballgames he's played that he's shown a lot of poise and confidence and we think he's got a lot of upside to him."
Oregon State (6-0, 4-0) not only remained perfect with the win, the team also became bowl eligible after going just 3-9 last season. It is Oregon State's best start since 1907, when the school had a 6-0 season as Oregon Agricultural College.
Beavers quarterback Cody Vaz threw for 174 yards against the Utes. Storm Woods ran for 46 yards and all three Oregon State touchdowns.
But it was the Beavers' defense that made all the difference, when an interception and a fumble recovery led to first-half touchdowns.
Oregon State capitalized on Michael Doctor's interception of Wilson with a 1-yard scoring run from Woods, putting the Beavers ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter. Rudolf Fifita then sacked Wilson and forced a fumble that was recovered by Dylan Wynn, leading to Woods' 2-yard touchdown dash.
Wilson found Jake Murphy with an 18-yard scoring pass midway through the second quarter for the Utes' lone touchdown. Coleman Petersen missed a 43-yard field goal on Utah's first possession.
Utah threatened in the third quarter and got as close as the Oregon State 3, but DeVonte Christopher's fumble was recovered by Scott Crichton to end the scoring threat.
Vaz got rolling with an efficient fourth-quarter drive that ended with Woods' 3-yard touchdown dive. Wilson answered with a drive of his own that stalled when he was sacked for a loss on fourth-and-9 on the Oregon State 18.
Sean Martin intercepted Wilson on Utah's final drive of the game.
Wittingham was sympathetic that Wilson blamed himself for the loss.
"He's a stand-up kid, and that doesn't surprise me he would take that attitude," the coach said. "But you've got to keep him confident and progressing week to week. That's what we expect."
Vaz made his debut last weekend as Oregon State's starter and threw for three touchdowns against BYU to earn Pac-12 player of the week honors. He took the place of Sean Mannion, who had surgery to repair meniscus in his left knee a little more than a week ago.
Mannion was already back at practice and was Vaz's backup against the Utes.
Vaz made his first start since high school last weekend and threw for 332 yards in Oregon State's 42-24 victory over the Cougars. Against the Utes he completed 16 of 26 passes but looked shaky at times in the periodic rain.
Last season the Utes ended their four-game skid to open conference play with a 27-8 victory over Oregon State that touched off a four-game winning streak.
Utah had won four of its last five games against the Beavers.