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Mannion, Cooks lead Beavers in rout of Colorado

CORVALLIS -- Finally, an easy one for Oregon State.

Sean Mannion threw a school-record six touchdown passes, Brandin Cooks put on another spectacular performance and OSU's defense played its most complete game of the season in a 44-17 rout of Colorado Saturday at Reser Stadium.

The win was the fourth straight for the Beavers (4-1 overall, 2-0 in Pac-12 play), who have rebounded nicely from their opening 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington with a bye week preceding their next action Oct. 5 at Washington State.

"We're in a good position," said tailback Terron Ward, who rushed for 55 yards and caught seven passes for 103 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown. "We're 2-0 in the Pac -- that's always good. After that first loss, everybody wrote us off, but we knew our value. We knew we were a good team."

Oregon State, leading 17-3 at halftime, broke the game open with a 21-point barrage to seize 38-3 advantage with 5:13 remaining in the third quarter. The Buffaloes (2-1, 0-1) scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but through three periods, they managed only five first downs and 124 yards total offense.

"Until the fourth quarter, (the OSU defense had) given up only three points, and that was due to a turnover," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "Defensively, that was about as consistent as we've played. We played our best defensive game today, which I'm excited about."

The Beavers weren't bad on offense, either, with 29 first downs and a season-high 540 yards total offense. Mannion completed 27 of 52 passes for 414 yards and six touchdowns, breaking the single-game mark co-held by Derek Anderson, Lyle Moevao and Erik Wilhelm.

Moevao and Anderson were on the OSU sidelines -- Moevao as a Beaver grad assistant, Anderson watching on a bye weekend for the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

"Kid looked great," Anderson said of Mannion. "He's smart, sees the field real well."

"I never focus on stats that much, but it's cool to have a school record," Mannion said. Anderson "was down in our locker room after the game. It was cool to get to talk with him and realize you're written in there with some really outstanding players."

Mannion's passing numbers through Oregon State's first five games are mind-boggling: 2,018 yards and 21 touchdowns with two interceptions.

"Sean's on fire right now," Ward said. "I don't see the flame going out any time soon."

"He'd better be in the Heisman talk after this game," Cooks said. "He's playing with confidence. He's having fun out there. He's not pressing. He's having a lot of fun out there."

So is Cooks, who added to his FBS-leading numbers by catching nine passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, with 152 yards coming in the first half. The 5-10, 185-pound junior also gained 47 yards on five carries via the fly sweep.

"Brandin was outstanding as always," Mannion said. "There were plays where he goes up and just finds a way to come down with it. With him, there's always a chance."

After down-to-the-wire road victories the previous two weeks, Oregon State won handily Saturday after a sputtering start. If you listen to first-year Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre, though, the Buffaloes practically handed the game to the Beavers.

"Turnovers," said MacIntyre, who went 11-2 at San Jose State a year ago. "That's what the difference in the game was."

Not really. Colorado had four turnovers -- plus an interception on a two-point conversion attempt -- and Oregon State had two. The Buffaloes also gave the ball up when OSU recovered a squib kickoff in the third quarter. By that time, the Beavers were already ahead 31-3.

"That kind of flipped the game for sure," MacIntyre contended. "Mainly, it was turnovers and taking care of the ball, and we had some holding penalties and that type of thing. We should move the ball better, and we will."

The Buffaloes didn't do much Saturday until it didn't matter. Pretty much, they got whipped in every way through three quarters. Quarterback Connor Wood finished 14-of-34 passing for 146 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, but he was 5-of-19 for 31 yards going into the final period.

Colorado's defense wasn't doing a lot of stopping, either. Mannion picked the visitors' secondary apart, and the Buffaloes had no answer for Cooks.

"We can't be (giving up that many yards)," MacIntyre said. "We should have had three picks in the first half. I mean, we were right there. We need to work on making the play."

Oregon State's offensive performance wasn't pristine, especially early. Mannion missed some targets and his receivers had some drops. The Beavers again couldn't run in the first half, though they got it going enough in the second half to finish with 120 yards on the ground.

"The first half was really sloppy with our offense," Mannion said. "We had four three-and-outs. That's something we can't have happen. The defense was playing incredible, giving us a lot of chances. I missed a lot of throws I know I can hit. But I was happy with the way we bounced back in the second half. From there on out, we were really sharp."

Oregon State survived a pair of turnovers to go into halftime ahead 17-3. By that time, Mannion had completed 15 of 33 passes for 247 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Cooks grabbed seven passes for 152 yards and a score.

"Brandin absolutely bailed us out that first half," Riley said. "There was nothing else going on. We were dropping third-down balls. It was not very pretty."

The Beavers scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions of the third quarter, though, to put the game on ice.

They marched 75 yards in seven plays -- Cooks scoring on a 22-yard reception -- to up the lead to 24-3 with 12:03 left in the quarter. Ward took a screen pass and rambled 42 yards for another score to make it 31-3. And after OSU's Zack Robinson recovered Trevor Romaine's squib kickoff at the Colorado 26, Mannion found Caleb Smith in the end zone for a 3-yard TD to make it 38-3. After that, garbage time was on.

"It was important for us to come out strong in the second half," Mannion said. "And it was nice to finish off a team early."

Mannion and Cooks are the most prolific passing duo in the country.

"That combination is crazy," Ward said. "You don't get to be around guys like that very often. To have someone come out and break records like that is amazing."

The Beavers feel as if there is more there, though.

"We didn't really have a complete game as far as the offense," Cooks said. "The defense played well, but we left some points out there. We all agreed on that in the locker room.

"To play a game like this and be able to run up some points like this, and the defense stopping those guys -- going into the bye week, that's going to help us. Now we have to get ready for Wazoo, understanding that the conference (opponents are) going to get harder and harder."

The Oregon State defense seems to be improving.

"We played as a team," said safety Ryan Murphy, who had an interception for the second straight game. "Everybody, from the line to the linebackers to the secondary, did their job. When we have all 11 guys doing their job, it comes together during the game. Hopefully, we add a brick every week toward building this house."

Riley is thankful the way the Beavers have come back from their loss to FCS foe Eastern Washington in the opener.

"You have to own who you are," he said. "We lost the first game. I'm proud of how our players and coaches dealt with it. We're getting better, which is what we're going to have to do. As we go on in our schedule, the (opponents) will be better. I'm glad we have a bye week, a chance to get healthier, which will be helpful. We're hanging by a thread in some areas. It'll be nice to get some guys back.

"Our receivers were mostly average today except for Brandin. There's a lot of stuff we won't like about this game that we need to learn from in order to get better. We'll enjoy the win, because they are hard to come by. But to keep growing, you have to do things better."

NOTES: Mannion has five straight games of 350 yards or more passing. That breaks Anderson's record of four in a season set in 2004. Mannion has four 400-yard games, breaking Anderson's school mark of three. … Smith caught a pair of TD passes, for four and three yards. … It wasn't cold, but winds were blustery and rain showers fell through the game. The punting game seemed affected most. "It really wasn't that big of a deal," Cooks said. "The wind picked up a lot, but other than that, it was basically playing football." … Oregon State used the fly sweep more than it has all season. "Teams are defending that play better than they used to when we first started running it with James Rodgers (in 2007), but it was pretty good today," Riley said. … Among those watching from the sidelines were ex-OSU greats Anderson, Bill Swancutt and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Anderson and Houshmandzadeh addressed the team after the game. … Cooks said Mannion's chemistry with his receivers "is what's helping us. Not just between me and him, but him and (Richard) Mullaney, him and the tight ends and the running backs. The chemistry is crazy right now." … Ward took a pitch, then threw a pass to Mannion in the left flat that went for six yards to the Colorado 9-yard line in the third quarter. "It was something we worked on (in practice)," Mannion said. "It was a little more wide open than it was today. I caught it and tried to do something with it. You don't get very many chances catching the ball as a quarterback. I tried to slip the (defender), but it didn't work out." The Buffaloes were called for roughing-the-passer on Ward on the play. It was the second time in as many weeks Ward has thrown a pass and the opponent been called for roughing the passer. … Colorado's Paul Richardson, who came into the game with 21 receptions in two games, caught five passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. The 6-1, 170-pound junior had one catch for two yards through three quarters, though.

SCORE BY PERIODS

Colorado 3 0 0 14 -- 17

Oregon State 10 7 21 6 -- 44

FIRST QUARTER

OSU -- Trevor Romaine 36 FG 10:03

COL -- Will Oliver 19 FG 6:19

OSU -- Caleb Smith 3 pass from Sean Mannion (Romaine kick) 2:09

SECOND QUARTER

OSU -- Brandin Cooks 8 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) :16

THIRD QUARTER

OSU -- Cooks 22 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) 12:03

OSU -- Terron Ward 42 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) 6:48

OSU -- Caleb Smith 4 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) 5:13

FOURTH QUARTER

COL -- Tyler McCulloch 24 pass from Connor Wood (Devin Ross pass from Wood) 10:54

OSU -- Connor Hamlett 11 pass from Mannion (rush failed after bad snap) 6:48

COL -- Paul Richardson 25 pass from Wood (pass failed) :13

ATT. -- 44,279