Oregon vs. Oregon State: Key Players to Watch During Civil War

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Oregon vs. Oregon State: Key Players to Watch During Civil War
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

For the first time in several years, there is nothing more than pride on the line during the Civil War. 

Two losses in the month of November have taken Oregon out of the national championship and Pac-12 championship picture, while Oregon State has dropped four in a row ever since becoming bowl eligible way back on Oct. 19. 

A defeat could mean the difference between the Alamo and Holiday Bowl for the Ducks, and a win might propel Oregon State to the prestigious Fight Hunger or New Mexico Bowl. But in the big picture, this matchup doesn't mean much. 

Just don't try to tell that to the players. 

The Civil War is one of the longest-lasting—and underrated—rivalries in the country, and you can bet this game means the world to everyone involved. 

Let's take a look at some players who will be key in determining the outcome at Autzen Stadium. 

 

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Insult was added to injury—er, the other way around—last week when the dynamic quarterback took a huge hit to the head near the end of Oregon's embarrassing defeat to Arizona. But he has cleared all tests and will be good to go for Friday, per GoDucks.com's Rob Moseley:

Of course, that doesn't mean Mariota is completely healthy, as he has also been dealing with an MCL injury that has made him one-dimensional. 

The Honolulu native is perfectly capable of gashing defenses through the air, as his 9.59 yards per attempt and 27-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio both suggest. But the normally explosive dual-threat option has tallied just 18 yards on the ground during the three games since his injury surfaced after racking up 511 in the first eight. 

Oregon State is giving up just 6.4 yards per pass attempt on the season, which, according to teamrankings.com, is the 21st-best mark in America, meaning the Ducks could be forced to the ground.

They have a seemingly endless amount of weapons on offense, so this isn't a be-all and end-all factor, but Mariota's effectiveness in the run game will be very important. 

 

Storm Woods/Terron Ward, RB, Oregon State

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It's no secret—Oregon State likes to throw the ball. 

Per teamrankings.com, the Beavers sling the pigskin 66.88 percent of the time, which is third most in the country. As such, Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks, easily one of the most productive QB-WR duos in all the land, are clearly ones to watch. 

But let's take a look in another direction. 

Stanford and Arizona have revealed the blueprint to beating Oregon: take the air out of the ball, control time of possession and keep the Ducks' explosive offense off the field. 

Tyler Gaffney ran 45 times and Stanford tallied 66 total carries in one Oregon loss, while KaDeem Carey and Arizona hit 48 and 65, respectively, in Oregon's other loss. 

Does Oregon State have the personnel to play that style of game? Absolutely not, but if the Beavers want to have any chance of scoring the upset, they need to do better than 2.7 yards per carry and 69.6 yards per game on the ground. 

Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Storm Woods and Terron Ward have essentially split underwhelming carries at running back, but both have shown in the past that they have the ability to rip off big runs. 

Last year, Woods averaged 4.9 yards per carry and Ward tallied 6.1 per tote. Throwing the ball is fine, but the Beavers need to at least resemble a multifaceted offense. 

 

De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It's impossible to make a list like this and not talk about De'Anthony Thomas, one of the most explosive players in the nation. 

Some may have forgotten about DAT when he missed four games in September and October, or when he was slow to get back to 100 percent even when he returned, but Thomas reminded the nation of his gaudy speed and elusiveness last Saturday. 

As one of the lone bright spots for Oregon, the junior running back/slot receiver/kick returner/everything ran 16 times for 83 yards and caught six balls for another 74. 

If he gets a little bit of space, Thomas, who is a threat in every aspect of the game, can make defenders look both silly and slow. Now that he's seemingly back to full strength, expect fireworks against a defense that allows nearly six yards per play.

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