Oregon State Beavers vs. Oregon Ducks Complete Game Preview
After the home team won nine consecutive times in the annual "Civil War" game between Oregon and Oregon State, the Beavers beat the Ducks in Eugene in 2007 for their second consecutive win in the series. It took overtime for the Beavers to beat the Ducks, who were completely decimated by injuries at the end of the season.
The Beavers don't care how it might come; they would take a win over the Ducks any way they could get it. After winning the matchup in 2006 and 2007, the Beavers had their Rose Bowl dreams shattered by the Ducks in 2008 and 2009. The Ducks have beaten the Beavers in five straight matchups, with the last three coming by an average of 23 points.
This season, both teams enter the game desperately wanting a win to help salvage their seasons.
The Beavers started the season with a shocking home loss to FCS Eastern Washington, but they responded with six consecutive wins. Since the 6-1 start, the Beavers have lost four straight, including a disastrous 69-27 home loss to Washington last week.
The Ducks started out 8-0 and were ranked No. 2 in the nation before a loss to Stanford derailed their season. After a shocking 42-16 loss to Arizona last week, the No. 13 Ducks have lost two of their last three games and need to make a statement if they have any hope of extending their run of BCS bowl appearances.
Oregon leads the all-time series between the two programs 60-46-10
Here is everything you need to know for the 117th edition of the "Civil War."
Who: Oregon State Beavers vs. Oregon Ducks
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
When: Friday, Nov. 30th, 7 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Spread: According to VegasInsider.com, Oregon is favored by 21.5 points.
Oregon Keys to Victory
Oregon's hopes for a dream season were dashed after the crushing loss to Stanford. The loss to Arizona crushed the Ducks' hopes of a Pac-12 title. All they can do is let the future dictate how this season will be remembered.
If they come out flat, the Beavers have enough offensive firepower to keep it interesting.
Get out ahead early
The last thing the Ducks want is to come out flat and let the Beavers hang around. In an emotionally charged rivalry like this, the game can change in an instant. They last thing the Beavers want is for the Ducks to strike early and often, getting the Autzen Stadium crowd involved.
The way the first quarter goes is likely how the rest of the game will go.
Go out with a bang
This is the final home game for one of the best senior classes in Oregon football history, and the seniors deserve to go out with a big win over their in-state rival. If the Ducks come to play, they will get just that.
Oregon State Keys to Victory
Establish the run
The Beavers' passing game is one of the best in the country, due in large part to their running game being one of the worst.
They rank 122nd in the country in rushing yards per game with an average of just 72.82. As a team, the Beavers have run for just 801 yards and 11 touchdowns on 283 carries. The highest rushing total the Beavers have gained in a game this season is 120 against Colorado.
The only proven way to beat the Ducks is to pound the ball relentlessly on the ground. The Beavers won't do that, but if they can get anything out of the ground game, they could keep this one close.
Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion has been spectacular this season, but he has thrown 13 interceptions. Oregon's secondary has a nose for the ball that will give Mannion fits if he misses on some throws.
He will need to keep the ball out of the way of Oregon defenders if he hopes to keep the Beavers in the game beyond halftime.
Oregon Players to Watch
Since they will no longer be hosting the Pac-12 championship game, this will be the final home game for the Oregon seniors and potentially a few of the Ducks' star juniors.
Seniors DE Taylor Hart, DT Ricky Havili-Heimuli and DT Wade Keliikipi will be looking to wreak havoc in the Oregon State backfield. The trio will need to create pressure to try and rattle Mannion early in the game.
Linebacker Boseko Lokombo will also try to put pressure on the Oregon State offense while playing his final home game as a Duck. Senior safeties Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson will come out fired up as the emotional leaders of the Oregon defense.
Oregon's junior class
Oregon's talented junior class could send as many as five players to the NFL after this season. QB Marcus Mariota, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, center Hroniss Grasu and running back De'Anthony Thomas are all among the top players at their position according to NFLDraftScout.com. CB Terrance Mitchell could also test the NFL's draft waters to see where he might fall should he decide to forgo his senior season.
Oregon State Players to Watch
The senior has thrown for 34 touchdowns and 13 interceptions en route to a nation-leading 4,089 yards on the season. He has completed 66.3 percent of his passes by connecting on 347 of 523 attempts.
He will need to be on target on Friday to keep the Beavers in the game.
Cooks leads the nation with a staggering 110 receptions for 1,560 yards by averaging 10 receptions and 141.8 yards per game. He is second in the nation with 15 touchdown catches.
He is far and away the most dangerous weapon for the Beavers, but opposing defenses still haven't figured out how to stop him. He will be tested against Oregon's elite secondary and will need to have a big day if the Beavers want to keep it close.
What They Are Saying
There are plenty of thoughts from both sides of this rivalry.
A piece from the Oregonian's Connor Letourneau details the desire of Oregon State's seniors to finally get a win against the Ducks. Cornerback Rashaad Reynolds said:
It'd mean a lot just because I haven't beaten Oregon since I've been here. In a heated rivalry like that, you always at least want to go out and say, 'I beat them.' And what better way to do that than your last regular-season game?
They beat us five years in a row and right now we aren't having the greatest season. So, of course, you feel like they look at you like a little brother. But me? I don't really worry about nothing like that.
Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti isn't shy when it comes to expressing his opinions. He had plenty to say after practice on Tuesday, as reported by the Oregonian's Jason Quick.
Aliotti on fans and the media questioning his defense: "I know there are all these questions ... and doubt, and this and that. But our guys are great. They will be ready to play. They are tigers and lions, and I don’t think they worry about the opinion of sheep."
Aliotti on his 26th Civil War as a coach for the Ducks: "Before, we had to win to feel better about being 2-9. Now, it’s a game we have to win so we can be 10-2. That’s a pretty good deal. You know, 10-2 is a pretty good record."
Perhaps the biggest reason for Oregon's recent dominance in the series is that the talent gap is wider than it has ever been. The Beavers have a number of talented players but not enough to compete with the Ducks.
Look for the Ducks to come out on fire and get the crowd involved, making it difficult for Mannion and the Beavers offense to establish any rhythm. The Ducks should push their winning streak in the series to six games after putting this one away by halftime.
Expect the Ducks to bounce back in a big way to send the seniors out on a high note despite a disappointing November.
Oregon 52, Oregon State 20