Earlier this evening, the Oregon State Beavers squeaked past the always-tough Arizona Wildcats 19-17 and kept their Rose Bowl aspirations alive. To quote fellow BR writer Larry Sigurdson, "The Civil War is Upon Us."
All Pacific-Northwesterners know just how big of a rivalry the Civil War is. But for those who don't, here are a few reasons why this years edition of the Civil War has more at stake than ever.
Last weekend was known as "Revenge Saturday" around the college football world, with many rematches being fought over last year's plethora of upsets. For the Oregon schools, last Saturday was extremely important.
Last year, the California Golden Bears were ranked No.2 in the nation. Coming off of a close win over the Oregon Ducks the week before, the Bears were looking to continue their run for a National Championship appearance.
But, due to the inexperience of QB Kevin Riley, a fatal decision to not run the ball out of bounds in the final seconds of the game, sealed the upset for Oregon State.
A similar situation occurred later in the season, in early November to be exact. The Oregon Ducks had rebounded from the heartbreaking loss to the Golden Bears, and were ranked No. 2 in the nation. Many injuries had plagued the Ducks over the course of the season, but everything seemed to be in the Ducks' favor.
QB Dennis Dixon and RB Jonathan Stewart were Heisman hopefuls, with Dixon as the favorite to win the award; the first Duck in history to win it. Then disaster struck, as Dixon's cleat got caught in the Tuscon turf, and one ACL tear later, lowly Arizona upset the Fighting Ducks.
Last week, Revenge Saturday featured rematches of these upsets. With both Oregon schools coming out on top.
However, next week should be considered "Revenge Saturday 2.0" for the Oregon Ducks.
In 2000, Oregon was on track to make the Rose Bowl for the first time since Head Coach Rich Brooks, and star quarterback Danny O'Neil led the Ducks to Pasadena in 1994.
It looked as though Oregon would become the 2000 Pac-10 Champs, and with one game left to play, the Civil War to be exact, the Ducks could "smell the roses".
We all know how that game went down, as Oregon State would upset the Ducks 23-13, crushing the Ducks' Rose Bowl aspirations.
In last year's Civil War, Oregon State took advantage of a severely depleted Ducks team and became the first of the two teams to win the Civil War away from home in 10 years.
These are the two biggest reasons why college football fans around the country will be treated to a double dose of "Revenge Saturday 2.0."
Not only does Oregon wish to return the favor, by beating the Beavers on their own turf, but they also want the Beavers to know what it's like to have your bitter rival crush your Rose Bowl dreams.
So, this poses a question. How can the Ducks accomplish this task?
Oregon hold an almost unhealthily high-octane offense, No. 10 in the nation and the best in the Pac-10 to be exact, averaging 39.8 points and 465.9 yards per game.
Oregon's defense has been under much scrutiny though, as they have given up an average of 375.7 yards per game.
While this may seem like a bitter pill to swallow, the defense itself is not the culprit. Oregon's offense is the main culprit, evidenced by the Ducks ranking in time-of- possession (24:55), last in the Pac-10.
With Oregon's defense playing more than three-and-a-half quarters of the football game each week, the yardage they give up is more than explainable. This is not because the Oregon defense is bad, but because the Oregon offense simply scores too quickly, leaving the defense barely any time to catch their breath.
When looking at how many yards the Ducks give up per game, their defense looks abismal. When looking at how many yards the Ducks give up per play however, their defense looks like one of the best in the nation.
Oregon's defense gives up 4.78 yards per play, Oregon State's, 4.73. So it appears that Oregon State has the advantage, by 1.8 inches per play.
What will it take for the Ducks to win this year's Civil War, avenging all the wrong that has been bestowed upon them by their evil twins to the north?
Oregon needs to come out fast, strong, and determined. We all know how explosive the Ducks are on offense. If Oregon can record a two possession lead, as little as ten points, then the offense can start to slow down the tempo of the game, which favors the offense. The longer a drive goes, the more the advantage goes towards the offense.
Once Oregon builds a solid lead, the tempo can be slowed, and the defense can finally catch their breath.
Those are my keys to the game. With so much on the line for both teams, this will be a Civil War for the ages.
Watch out, Oregon State. It's Revenge Saturday 2.0, and this time, it's personal.
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