EL PASO, Texas -- Three points, 20 punts and 10 sacks. Go ahead and say it was unsightly, but Oregon State coach Mike Riley saw nothing short of a masterpiece.
In the lowest-scoring major bowl game in a half-century, the Beavers shut down No. 20 Pittsburgh 3-0 Wednesday in the Sun Bowl on Justin Kahut's 44-yard field goal.
Defense wins championships
The best offense in this one, a 3-zip Beavers victory, was the 10 sacks split between the teams. Oregon State's defense helped the Beavers win their fifth straight bowl game. Blog
"That's the game we were in," Riley said. "We played that game. We ended up winning it. Some people will call it ugly, but I can't."
The defensive struggle went on all day. Pitt kicker Connor Lee tried a 58-yard field goal in the closing minutes but the ball, helped by a steady wind, dropped just short of the crossbar.
"I had more confidence in a 58-yard field goal try than going for it on fourth-and-8," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "I wanted to give out team a chance. I really thought he could kick it."
Not since Air Force and TCU played to 0-0 standoff in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1959, had a bowl produced so few points. It was also the lowest-scoring Sun Bowl since a scoreless tie in 1940 between Catholic and Arizona State.
• Oregon State's Justin Kahut kicked a 44-yard field goal in the second quarter for the game's only points. The three combined points is the second lowest in Sun Bowl history. The lowest was a 0-0 tie in 1940 between Arizona State and Catholic.
• Oregon State has now won five straight bowl games, which is the third longest active streak in the nation. Mike Riley is now 8-0 in his career in bowl games -- 5-0 as a head coach and 3-0 as USC's offensive coordinator from 1993-96.
• The last time Pitt was shut out in a bowl game was the 1956 Sugar Bowl (7-0 vs Georgia Tech).
• The Pac-10 is now 4-0 in bowl games with USC being the only team remaining. The Big East falls to 3-1. Both teams finish 9-4.
-- ESPN research
"We were three downs and out way too much," Riley said. "We put a terrific burden on our defense and we put a lot of burden on the punt team. They came through. That's the game we were in and we played that game. We ended up winning it."
The Beavers (9-4) improved to 5-0 in bowls since Riley began his second stint as their coach in 2003. Kahut provided the only points with his kick shortly before halftime.
Riley liked the way his team rebounded from a 65-38 loss to rival Oregon that denied Oregon State a Rose Bowl berth.
"Guys sulked for a bit," Beavers defensive end Victor Butler said. "But in the end you've got to get your head in the game. You've got to go play football because the other team wants to play and win just as much as you do."
Riley stood at the interview table and added: "That is well said."
Pitt (9-4), making its first bowl appearance since the 2004 season and the first under Wannstedt, led the Big East in scoring this season, averaging 29.3 points per game. The Panthers managed just 178 total yards.
"We couldn't get anything on offense started at all," standout tailback LeSean McCoy said. "We played horribly."
There was no sign of offense in El Paso, not with McCoy held to 85 yards rushing after averaging 116.9 yards per game this season. Quarterback Bill Stull was 7-for-24 for 52 yards with one interception.
"When you talk about our defense, that was a beautiful performance against a running back that some said was one of the best in the country," Riley said.