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Defense leads No. 8 Oregon State past Utah 21-7

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State’s defense helped out when quarterback Cody Vaz struggled in the rain, and the No. 8 Beavers remained undefeated with a 21-7 Pac-12 football victory over Utah on Saturday night that gave them their best start in more than a century.

Vaz made his debut last weekend as Oregon State’s starter and threw for three touchdowns against BYU to earn Pac-12 player of the week honors. This time, he passed for 174 yards against the Utes. But the Beavers’ defense had an interception and a fumble recovery that led to two first-half touchdown runs by Storm Woods.

Woods had 17 carries for 46 yards and all three touchdowns for Oregon State (6-0, 4-0), which hadn’t opened a season 6-0 since 1907, when the school was the Oregon Agricultural College. The victory also meant bowl eligibility for the Beavers, who went 3-9 last season and were picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North this year.

Freshman Travis Wilson threw for 172 yards and a touchdown for Utah (2-5, 0-4), which opened conference play with four consecutive losses for the second straight season.

Vaz started a second consecutive game in place of Sean Mannion, who had surgery to repair meniscus in his left knee a little more than a week ago. Mannion was already back at practice and was Vaz’s backup against the Utes.

Vaz made his first start since high school last weekend and threw for 332 yards in Oregon State’s 42-24 victory over the Cougars.

Against the Utes he completed 16 of 26 passes but looked shaky at times in the periodic rain.

Oregon State also struggled with its ground game, rushing for just 52 yards. So instead, the Beavers relied on their defense.

Utah had won four of its last five games against the Beavers.