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Canzano: All eyes on Oregon-Oregon State
Quick thoughts on Beavers vs. Ducks at Reser Stadium.
There’s a lot at stake in the 126th meeting between Oregon and Oregon State. The Ducks are playing for a berth in the Pac-12 Conference title game. Win — and they’re in. The Beavers are chasing a nine-win season.
Both fan bases are engaged.
So are others around the Pac-12.
Collectively, it’s the most important meeting between the Ducks and Beavers since 2009, when No. 7-ranked Oregon beat No. 13 Oregon State 37-33 and won the conference title. That was the first and only time that a Rose Bowl berth was on the line for both teams when the Oregon Civil War kicked off.
Some thoughts today:
• DOG IN THE FIGHT: Utah and Washington have a rooting interest in this game. Both still have a shot to get to Las Vegas and play USC for the conference title. Both will be rooting for Oregon State.
Utah is watching. With an Oregon State win over Oregon, all the Utes would need is to beat Colorado to advance to Las Vegas and the Pac-12 title game. With an OSU win, Washington would need a Colorado upset of Utah… and… then to beat Washington State at 7:30 p.m.in the Apple Cup.
Oregon beats OSU and it’s in Las Vegas as the No. 1 seed (home team) vs. USC. But the Ducks could also back into the title game with a loss, if Washington State beats Washington in the Apple Cup.
• NIX WATCH: I remain concerned about the foot injury to Oregon QB Bo Nix. Keep an eye on him early in this game. Is he attacking the line of scrimmage with his feet? Or sitting back as a non-threat as he did last week vs. Utah?
Nix really only ran one time last week. Utah’s defense didn’t have to honor him as a runner. If Nix can’t run consistently or at least present a credible threat, it makes defending the Ducks run attack much easier for OSU’s defense.
• FUN FACT: Fun Civil War Fact: Oregon’s Autzen Stadium is named for Thomas J. Autzen… who graduated from Oregon State in 1909.
• AIR ATTACK: Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham had an obvious plan vs. Utah. He basically put Bo Nix in shotgun formation, sat him on a proverbial stool, and had him throw quick passes.
The Utes defensive backs adjusted early in the game, crept up on the Oregon receivers and held Nix to under 100 passing yards in the second half. The Ducks took more shots down the field after the short passing game dried up.
Keep an eye on how little (or much) cushion the OSU defensive backs give the Oregon receivers. If they tighten up as the game progresses, Nix will need to keep them honest.
• DUCK RUN ATTACK: Oregon rushed for only 59 yards last week vs. Utah. Oregon State has the best run defense in the conference (111.4 yards per game allowed). I’ll check the rushing numbers at halftime.
Will Oregon get to 50-60 rushing yards in the first half? I expect the Ducks will be very intentional early in this game about trying to establish an early run game. They’ll need it. It’s going to be a fascinating battle at the line of scrimmage.
• ANOTHER FUN FACT: Mike Parker, the “Voice of Oregon State,” is a graduate of Oregon. Don Essig, the “Voice of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium,” is an OSU graduate.
• BEAVERS ON THE RUN: Oregon State wants to run the ball on offense, bloody the opposition up, and then let quarterback Ben Gulbranson beat a defense with play action passes. I suspect Oregon is going to try to take away the OSU run game, and make Gulbranson beat them with his arm.
I wonder if OSU starts this game passing to set up the run? Or running to set up the pass?
OSU is averaging 25.7 pass attempts per game, fewest in the Pac-12. True freshman running back Damien Martinez has run for 100-plus yards in five straight games. Getting 100 vs. Oregon would make him the first OSU running back since Steven Jackson (2003) to accomplish that feat.
• TURNOVERS AND SACKS: Oregon has won 21 straight games when it wins the battle of turnovers. The Ducks have also only allowed three sacks this season, the fewest in college football. (The Pac-12 record for fewest sacks allowed in a full season is six, set by Stanford in 2010).
Meanwhile, OSU is 7-1 this season when it commits one turnover or fewer in a game. In their three losses the Beavers had nine turnovers.
• ANOTHER FUN RIVALRY FACT: Until 1912, the Civil War football game itself wasn't that big of a deal. But there was an ugly riot after the 1910 game. Oregon and Oregon State agreed not to play each other in 1911.
In 1912, Billy Eagles, the owner of a cigar manufacturing company in Albany, approached both schools and tried to bring the game back. Eagles was related by marriage to then-OSU coach Sam Dolan. OSU and Oregon agreed to play, with one catch — the game had to be played on a neutral site.
A trainload of carpenters built a 10,000-seat stadium near downtown Albany (later known as Hudson Field). Total cost of construction: $500. Oregon won 3-0 in 1912. No riot.
• DEFENSIVE STATEMENT: Oregon State has not allowed more than 17 points in any home game this season. USC managed that total in a 17-14 win. OSU’s defense has been remarkable at home.
• MAKING A POINT: Oregon State is 6-0 this season when the offense reaches 30 points of offensive production. The Beavers are 2-3 when they don’t.
My game prediction: OSU 28, Oregon 27.
Post your prediction in the comment section.
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