LOS ANGELES - Apparently Jake Luton likes the number six. I mean that is the number on his Oregon State jersey. It's also the number of TDs he was involved in during the Beavers impressive 48-31 victory over UCLA.
His teammate and wide receiver extraordinaire, Isaiah Hodgins, was glowing about Luton (and the other playmakers) after the game outside the locker room:
Beaver nation turned out in force at the Rose Bowl and when it was apparent the Beavs were going to win, the huge throng of Orange and Black moved down from Section 27 in the far reaches of the Rose Bowl end zone to the seats right next to the field (Bruin fans had left and opened up the area for OSU fans).
That is where I caught up with Luton who was fresh off his career high five touchdown passes and a 19-yard scamper for his final score. It was the longest run of his Oregon State career:
While the Beavers enjoyed the chaotic scene on the field after the big win, it was a little different for Chip Kelly and the Bruins. Kelly had never lost to the Beavers before and maybe that played into his decision to go for it on fourth and one on his own 34 after Luton and company opened the game with an impressive touchdown drive.
I thought, well, Chip Kelly has no respect for Oregon State after his years beating up on OSU in Eugene. But the Beavers stuffed the Bruins on the fourth down play when running back Joshua Kelly met a wall of OSU defenders for a five-yard loss. The Bruins coach told the LA Times after the loss:
There's no one more disappointed than we are right now. So that is part of the process and we have to work through it and when you're a young team you're going to make mistakes but we don't make excuses for it.
Jonathan Smith grew up in Pasadena and was thrilled with his first FBS win of the season and was happy to talk me about the performance of his QB Jake Luton:
He was lights out tonight! His game has continued to improve. He's got some help around him now. I thought the O-line did an awesome job in the run game and in protection. Jake played with a lot of confidence, he was accurate with the ball. Obviously Hodge was a feature and he had a great game again. We had some huge contributors including Noah Togiai catches a big ball, Kolby Taylor with a big fourth down catch. Teegan Quitoriano with the touchdown catch in the red zone so Luton really spread the ball around.
Luton threw for 285 yards, ran for 27, and ties an Oregon State record with six total touchdowns with five TD passes and that 19-yard run.
Was this Jake Luton's greatest game as a Beaver? He did come off the bench and lead the Beavers back from a 31-3 deficit last October in Boulder to an overtime win vs. Colorado. But this performance was his greatest game in a Beaver uniform. Here's why: In the third quarter, the Beavers came out and let UCLA get within ten at 27-17. Luton's first pass was awful when the Beavers got the ball the first time and it was a three and out. You could feel the momentum heading to the Bruins.
The defense did stiffen and gave Luton another chance on their second possession. Luton throws another dud. Then on second down he finds Togiai for an eight yard pickup. Brian Lindgren, the Beavers Offensive Coordinator dials up a play-action pass that defined the night. A 53-yard TD bomb to Tyjon Lindsey for six points and Oregon State was on its way to their first win over an FBS team in 2019. The poise of Luton in that situation defines him as a difference maker.
Next up for the 2-3 Beavers and Luton...Utah. A 5:00 PM kickoff at Reser on Saturday.
Oregon State will be underdogs against the 17th-ranked Utes but no doubt the Beavers gained some Pac-12 respect with their breakthrough win against UCLA.