CORVALLIS, Ore. — Nicholls State coach Charlie Stubbs knows it may be painful now, but he believes the Colonels will be better for playing tough opponents.
They certainly saw tough on Saturday, when they lost to No. 16 Oregon State 77-3 in their regular-season finale.
It was the most points the Beavers had scored against an opponent.
The game was originally scheduled for Sept 1, but it was postponed when Hurricane Isaac bore down on the Colonels’ Thibodeaux, La., campus.
Oregon State was the third FBS team that lower-division Nicholls State has played this season. The Colonels also lost to South Alabama and Tulsa.
The Colonels have two wins over FBS opponents since 2000: They beat Arkansas State 28-22 in 2001, and Rice 16-14 in 2007.
“I signed up for these games and I want to play them,” said Stubbs, who was an assistant at Oregon State from 1985-90.
“We want to be more competitive, there’s no question about that. I aspire to bring this program up and it’s tough on me, but I know it’s something I want to do.”
Oregon State piled up 683 yards against the FCS Southland Conference Colonels (1-10), who lost their eighth straight.
Storm Woods ran for two Oregon State touchdowns and senior Markus Wheaton had 12 catches for 123 yards and a score, while setting the Beavers’ career record for receptions.
Oregon State (9-3) started playing its substitutes against the lower-division Colonels after taking a 35-0 halftime lead — and the team finished with its most points since a 76-0 win over Willamette in 1931.
But junior quarterback Landry Klann threw for 164 yards, becoming first Colonels player to throw for 2,000 yards since Brad Zeller in 1998. Klann finished with eight touchdown passes this season.
Woods scored on runs from the 8 and 1 early. Wheaton added a 10-yard score early in the second for a 24-0 lead.
Terron Ward added a 15-yard TD run after Oregon State took out starting quarterback Sean Mannion and put in Cody Vaz, who had missed the past two games with a high ankle sprain.
Vaz hit Wheaton with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 1:14 left in the first half to make it 35-0. On the prior play, Wheaton caught his 223rd career pass, surpassing James Rodgers’ school record.
Wheaton finished the day with 224 career receptions.
Oregon State coach Mike Riley used Mannion and Vaz interchangeably.
Mannion was Oregon State’s starter when the season opened and led the team to its first four wins, but injured his left knee and required surgery. Vaz took over the job, but he hurt his left ankle in the Beavers’ loss to Stanford.
The Cardinal won the Pac-12 championship on Friday night with a 27-24 victory over UCLA.
Mannion, coming off a rough outing the week before with four interceptions in a 48-24 loss to rival Oregon, also started the second half, throwing an early 4-yard touchdown pass to Richard Mullaney and a 22-yard TD pass to Kevin Cummings.
The Colonels avoided the shutout with Andrew Dolan’s 26-yard field goal with 2:40 left in the third quarter. The Beavers answered with Vaz’s 7-yard scoring pass to Obum Gwacham early in the fourth. Vaz added a 20-yard TD to Jordan Jenkins to make it 63-3.
Malcolm Agnew ran for an 11-yard touchdown and Michael Balfour ran 4 yards for another score for the final margin.
Mannion finished with 231 yards passing and two touchdowns, while Vaz threw for 190 yards and three TDs.
The Beavers have seen a complete turnaround from their 3-9 finish last year. Oregon State is possibly headed to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 27, and representatives from that bowl and the Alamo Bowl were in attendance.
The team will learn its destination on Sunday.