Pride and a Bit More- Game Day Drive- Oregon vs. Oregon State

Civil War-Oregon @ Oregon State- 12 noon PT- PAC 12 Network

Man! It’s amazing how one game can shift the season isn’t it? This time last week the Ducks were headed full speed to the National Championship. Today, after losing by just 3 points last week to Stanford, the Ducks are no longer in charge of their destiny. Several things will now have to happen before the Ducks can get back into the Natty, and what’s almost worse is they may not even make it to the PAC 12 Championship this year. Crazy, I know. If you ask me, there’s still a reasonable chance that the Ducks will get back into the spotlight game in Miami, but Stanford has to lose to UCLA tomorrow and Notre Dame has to lose to USC. Yes, you will have to root for USC- just for tomorrow.

Before we get too exited though, as Chip said earlier this week, “The only thing that matters is winning on Saturday. You can run through 27,000 scenarios, but if we don’t win Saturday, none of them come true.” Good point Chip. Thanks for reminding us that this year’s Civil War is a HUGELY important game. I guess this is what makes college football the best sport ever! Bring on “Hurdle #2”.

1st Down- “Behind the Scenes”
If you’ve grown up in Oregon, I’d venture to guess you’ve at least been to a few Civil War parties in your life time. As Oregonians, we haven’t always had the luxury of cheering for a national football powerhouse. Until the last decade or so, Oregon and Oregon State weren’t really on the map, and both struggled to fill the stands. They didn’t see a whole lot of post-season play but what they had was the Civil War- a yearly football shoot out pinning friend against friend and dividing households. Or, at the very least, causing people to color their game day food Green or Orange. As an Oregonian, you MUST pick a side and stick to it. In my house, if my sons even think about saying “Go Beavs!” they are immediately threatened with a backyard camp out- without blankets (OK, I wouldn’t really do that, but they don’t have to know that).
Over the past decade, as both football programs have grown, the stakes have gotten bigger, making the Civil War an all out blood bath. Each team has experienced the other squash post-season dreams (much like Stanford did to Oregon last week) and one or the other  is always in “pay back” mode. With both teams having so much on the line this year, this game proves to be no different- expect a fight!
The Beavers are having their best season in a couple of years and should they win this week, they could put themselves in position for a bigger bowl game than they’ve seen in a while. The Ducks, should they win, could keep their National Championship game hopes in play, and at the very least would secure their place in an “at large” (top) bowl game. Almost more importantly however, the Ducks will be playing for the pride that was stolen last week by the Tree.
2nd Down- “X’s and O’s”
We’ve talked about the Offensive Line in the past, but after last week, we have to talk about it again. These are the guys that essentially protect the quarterback. They aren’t always the most obvious players on the field, but their performance is key to a football game as we saw last week. When the quarterback isn’t protected, he doesn’t get enough time to figure out where to throw, or hand off, the ball. He has to scramble and his decisions are rushed, causing more fumbles, interceptions and incomplete passes. All of these things helped cost the Ducks a win last Saturday. I expect things to be cleaned up this week- at least I hope they will be. I don’t think I can handle another gut-wrenching loss, especially against the Beavs.
3rd Down- “What to Watch”
Tomorrow’s game should be a fun one to watch. OSU plays a lot like USC – deep passes down the field to their star receivers. One in particular, Markus Wheaton (Yes, that’s Kenny Wheaton’s cousin), will likely score at least a couple of touchdowns against Oregon tomorrow. After watching USC’s Marquise Lee do this against the Ducks again, and again, I’m really hoping Wheaton over sleeps tomorrow- until about 3:30pm. Even then, it wouldn’t be easy for the Ducks however. The Beavers have a line up of talent this year, including running back, Storm Woods, and corner back, Jordan Poyer- you’ll know their names well by the end of the game.
Where Oregon State dominates with it’s passing attack, Oregon takes the cake with its rush attack. Between Kenjon Barner, Marcus Mariota and the recently quiet, but not-for-long De’Anthony Thomas, OSU could have their hands full. That being said, the Beavers have a pretty strong defense and if they come ready to play, the Ducks could be in trouble. The good news for Oregon is that 2 weeks ago, Stanford had no problem running against OSU. The other good news is that Oregon will have likely learned a LOT from last week’s struggles against Stanford. This could spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E for OSU.
4th Down- “Prediction”
As my dad always says, “Stats and records don’t matter, everything goes out the window for the Civil War.” It looks like this may be especially true this year. Both teams are ready, and both teams are out for football blood.
Of all the games, the Civil War is hard to predict, but I do think the Ducks will win- of coarse. Much of the time, the home team wins this one, but I just think the Ducks will have the edge coming off last week’s loss. Although it stung a bit (OK a lot bit), that loss gave the Ducks something to work with. They had dominated most of the other games, which  gave them tidbits of film to work with, but last week provided the coaching staff with lots of “teachable moments”. Given how dedicated and smart these Ducks are, I expect them to clean things up and come out strong. It has been said that Mariota rarely makes the same mistake twice, and as long as his O-Line shows up tomorrow, I fully expect a stellar, hang-loose performance by him. If Mariota can get the ball in the air, I think Barner will be back in action as well. (see last week’s post about the spread offense). If OSU doesn’t ALWAYS believe the ball is going to Barner, he’ll have more opportunity to get through the line, and into the end zone.
Look for Mariota and Barner to rebound- keeping their Heisman dreams alive…or at least on life support.
OK, I’m rambling. Ducks 48  Beavers 31.
WTD Ducks!
Ps. Don’t forget to check out gridirongirl’s game day party ideas for your Civil War festivities!


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