2:00 PM ET, December 31, 2008
Sun Bowl, EL PASO, TX
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 championshipsThe 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
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
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.
"We have a lot of athletes who can step in," quarterback Lyle Moevao said. "Without those guys, it was definitely a big loss but we were still able to manage the game."
Reserve tailback Jeremy Francis had 76 yards rushing and Moevao was 21-for-42 for 193 yards passing with two interceptions. The Beavers finished with 273 total yards.
The Panthers finally got a spark early in the fourth quarter when T.J. Porter returned a punt 36 yards to Oregon State's 42.
But three plays later, the big return was wasted because Butler, who had four sacks, stripped Stull and recovered the fumble.
"It's an understatement to say how much he impacted this game," Riley said.
Oregon State led 3-0 after Kahut connected on his field goal with 2:18 remaining before halftime. He later missed a 37-yard attempt midway through the third period.
The Beavers came up empty on the best touchdown opportunity by either team. Officials ruled tight end John Reese was out of bounds on an apparent 9-yard TD reception 10 seconds before the break.
"This is the game it turned out to be," Riley said. "It didn't have to be 3-0. We missed some red-zone opportunities."
The call was upheld after a replay review, and on the next play, Pitt linebacker Scott McKillop -- the Big East defensive player of the year -- intercepted Moevao's pass in the end zone.
"We left a couple of plays on the field today," McKillop said. "We just didn't come out in the second half and set the tone."
It was over when... Justin Kahut kicked a 44-yard field goal for the game's only points.
Gameball goes to... Oregon State's D, which held Pitt to no points and 178 yards.
Stat of the game... 5. The Beavers extended their bowl winning streak to five games.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-17||2-15|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-1|
|FG||02:18||Justin Kahut 44 Yd||3||0|