Even after a loss, Oregon still has an outside chance at playing for the national championship. This will not be the case if Oregon State has its way.
The Beavers have lost four straight games against their bitter rivals, but the current team is one of the best in years. There is enough talent to handle the Ducks and give them their second loss of the season.
Of course, a few players will need to have some big games in order to make that happen. While everyone must play to the best of their abilities, these are the most important players for Oregon State in the last game of the year.
The quarterback has had an up-and-down year. He was leading an undefeated team into the Top 10 before getting hurt. When he came back, he threw four interceptions in a loss to Washington.
He got another opportunity against California and made the most of it with four touchdowns and 325 passing yards.
Mannion will start on Saturday, but now the pressure is on him. He has played well at times this year, but two games of three interceptions or more really stand out.
If his team has any chance of beating Oregon, the quarterback must stay composed and not make mistakes that will hurt his team.
Though the quarterback play has been inconsistent, receiver Markus Wheaton has been great all year.
The senior has been a force on offense, totaling 10 touchdown receptions after scoring just once last season.
He only had two receptions for 25 yards in the loss to Washington, and the team learned its mistake. Since then, he has 19 catches for 307 yards and four touchdowns in three games.
Wheaton does not have great size, but he knows how to find openings in a defense and he works hard to get himself into the end zone.
Oregon allowed Stanford receiver Zach Ertz to finish with 11 receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown in the recent loss. Although he is a tight end, the gaps are there in the defense for Wheaton and Brandin Cooks to have big days.
Stanford was able to defeat Oregon because speedster running backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas were unable to get anything going on the ground.
Barner averages 6.5 yards per carry on the season, but he only finished with 66 yards on 21 carries against the Cardinal because the defense tackled well and dominated the line of scrimmage.
Defensive end Scott Crichton has the ability to get into the opposing backfield as well as anyone in the country. He has nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss, both of which are at least twice as many as the next highest on the team.
He can cause some serious disruption to the Ducks' offense if he can stop Barner and Thomas before they are able to get going.
Everyone on the defense has to make sure they wrap up and prevent broken tackles, but Crichton will be the key. If he plays to his ability and gets help from Mannion and Wheaton, the Beavers will leave with a big win.
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