TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- No. 6 Oregon State had been a doormat for Pac-10 Conference teams for nearly three decades. On Monday night, the Beavers showed 10th-ranked Notre Dame what that felt like.
Jonathan Smith threw three touchdown passes, breaking the single-season school record along the way, and Oregon State thoroughly dominated Notre Dame in a 41-9 romp in the Fiesta Bowl.
Smith completed 16-of-24 passes for 305 yards as Oregon State (11-1) won a bowl game for the first time since a 6-0 victory over Villanova in the 1962 Liberty Bowl. The Beavers endured an NCAA-record 28 straight losing seasons before posting a 6-5 mark last season.
"They were running wide open all the time," said Smith about his receivers. "I just try to put guys into position to make plays for me and they did tonight. Some of that I attribute to our field position. Guys were wide open and I was able to hit them."
Ken Simonton, Oregon State's all-time rushing leader, gained 85 yards on 18 carries. His four-yard run gave the Beavers a 41-3 lead with 4:54 to play in the third quarter. Simonton's 1,559 rushing yards are 73 more than the school record he set last season.
Despite being penalized a Fiesta Bowl record 18 times for 174 yards, Oregon State's offense still rolled up 446 yards.
Although they held just a 12-3 lead at halftime, the Beavers completely outplayed the Fighting Irish in the first two quarters. Notre Dame managed just 33 yards on its first five possessions and was helped by a personal foul and interference penalty on its sixth drive which ended with Nick Setta's 29-yard field goal as time expired.
Freshman Matt LoVecchio was pressured heavily all game and lost for the first time in eight starts as Notre Dame (9-3) had a seven-game winning streak halted. LoVecchio was just 13-of-33 for 138 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked five times and forced into bad passes on several other occasions.
"I think it's pretty obvious we got whipped," Notre Dame coach Bob Davie said. "We got outcoached, we got outplayed. That fottball team out there tonight impressed me. I'm disappointed we didn't play better. I thought their speed was definitely a key factor. I thought they played extremely hard. We never could get in sync offensively. We got our butt kicked. I'm embarrassed by the way we played, but I'll never be embarrassed when it comes to the this football team. We didn't play very well."
The Irish have lost five straight bowl games. This was Notre Dame's worst postseason defeat since a 40-6 pounding by Nebraska in the 1973 Orange Bowl.
Julius Jones was limited to 30 yards on 13 carries for the Irish.
"That was our goal, to stop their running game," said Oregon State linebacker James Allen, who had seven tackles. "We knew they were going to smash us in the mouth, but we knew we could stop them. We felt if we stopped them the offense would get going eventually."
On Notre Dame's first possession of the third quarter, LoVecchio fumbled after he was sacked by linebacker Darnell Robinson. Defensive tackler Eric Manning recovered the ball on the Notre Dame 26 and one play later, Smith tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a 19-3 lead. The pass was Smith's 19th for a touchdown this season, breaking the school record set by Eric Wilhelm in 1988.
Houshmandzadeh had six receptions for 74 yards.
Special teams had been probably the strongest unit for the Irish throughout the season, but against Oregon State, Notre Dame was even outplayed there. Notre Dame linebacker Rocky Boiman forced Houshmandzadeh to fumble on a punt return, but the ball bounced to Oregon State safety Terrell Roberts who sprinted 45 yards to give the Beavers a 27-3 advantage with 9:08 left in the third.
"It was a tremendous football game for us," Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson said. "We came out and played in all three phases about as well as we have all year. Special teams played extremely well. Defensively I thought we totally dominated, offensively we mixed it up real well. It's just a great win for the program. Think where we were a couple of years ago 'til now. All of sudden playing the Fiesta Bowl and (we) become 11-1 is just kind of an unrealistic story."
Notre Dame's third possession of the second half also ended in a turnover as Robinson intercepted LoVecchio at the Irish 22. Patrick McCall had runs of 12 and six yards before Smith found Chad Johnson for a four-yard TD, giving Oregon State a 34-3 bulge with just over seven minutes remaining in the third.
Robinson finished with seven tackles, including one sack.
Notre Dame finally got in the end zone with 6:07 left in the fourth when Tony Fisher capped a 12-play, 57-yard drive with a one-yard run.
Oregon State outgained Notre Dame, 110-8, in the first quarter, but held just a 3-0 lead on Ryan Cesca's 32-yard field goal midway through the period.
Cesca kicked a 29-yard field goal to double the lead five seconds into the second.
Notre Dame cornerback Jason Beckstrom took a gamble and tried to intercept Smith as he stepped in front of Johnson. But the 6-3 Johnson caught a short sidline pass from Smith and raced 74 yards to give the Beavers a 12-0 lead with 4:18 left in the first half.