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Best Season Ever: The Oregon State...Possums?

In 2000, the Beavers got some help from a possum.

Note:This article is part of a series dedicated to each PAC-12 team's best season since 1980. Check out Jacy's posts for Colorado, Arizona, and Washington State.

The Oregon State football team hasn’t lost this many games in twenty years. Having finished second to last in the PAC-12 North this past season, perhaps OSU should seek motivation from its best season in 2000.

Guided by the play-calling of Head Coach Dennis Erickson, the 2000 OSU team began its season with three consecutive victories. However, despite the hot start, the Beavers' chances to win looked bleak when the seventh-ranked USC Trojans came to Corvallis. The Beavers jumped out a 14-0 lead in the first half, but the Trojans quickly managed to score twice and tie the game.

Then an interesting thing happened; a possum was spotted running across the field. As it scurried the length of the field and neared the end zone, the crowd began to cheer the critter on. Its crossing of the goal line brought the audience to its feet; it was even shown in slow-motion on the Jumbotron. Check out the video of the possum’s 100 yard run here:

The creature was eventually wrangled by the head of maintenance for OSU’s athletic department, Jess Lewis; the same Jess Lewis that thirty-three years earlier had recovered O.J. Simpson’s fumble to seal a victory against the Trojans (Oregon State's last win over USC). The Beavers, motivated by the flashback, cruised the rest of the way and ended their 32-season losing streak against the Trojans with a 31-21 victory.

Oregon State lost just one PAC-10 game that year (to Washington), and even routed PAC-10 defending champion Stanford late in the season. The Beavers were awarded a spot in the Fiesta Bowl versus Notre Dame and crushed the Irish 41-9 en route to a #4 national ranking. OSU finished the season at 11-1 as PAC-10 Co-Champions and Fiesta Bowl Champions.

Head Coach Mike Riley is coming off arguably his worst season in Corvallis, so maybe he should figure a way to sneak another marsupial onto the field. Maybe then the Beavers can return to national prominence.