If you’re an Oregon fan, the bitter taste of last year’s Civil War probably still lingers.
Sure, the Beavers were probably due for a win after losing 8 consecutive games against the Ducks, but that certainly didn’t make the 34-24 loss any more bearable for the Oregon faithful. . .or the Ducks locker room.
It was a cold, rainy afternoon in Reser Stadium and both teams entered the game with sub-par records with little to play for but a year’s worth of bragging rights. Oregon players also had to know they were likely playing for Head Coach, Mark Helfrich’s job.
In the end, the Beavers and Coach Gary Andersen snagged a signature win while the Ducks left the stadium in a puddle of tears- a defeating end to one its worst seasons in recent history.
What a difference a year makes.
As the Ducks and Beavers set to meet again this Saturday at 4pm PST, both teams now look a whole lot different.
Mark Helfrich and his staff have now been replaced by Willie Taggart and his dream team coaching staff. The team is now bowl eligible at 6-5, and could easily have more wins had starting QB Justin Herbert not been out for several weeks after sustaining a collarbone injury on September 30th. All signs, including a much-improved defense, seem to indicate the program is moving in a fun and successful direction.
Meanwhile, the Beavers are 1-10 overall and have struggled all season, especially after their starting QB Jake Luton and several other key play-makers were sidelined due to injury. Despite some things obviously being outside of his control, Oregon State decided to release Head Coach, Gary Andersen, mid-season, and promoted cornerbacks coach Cory Hall to Interim Head Coach.
On Paper, the Ducks seem to have the upper hand going into this game, especially now that QB Justin Herbert has returned, but as any good Oregonian knows, when it comes to the Civil War, records go out the window and anything can happen. One things for certain though, this game is sure to get a little chippy.
Trash talk has already started (much of which has come from Oregon State) and the Ducks are ready to replace that lingering bitter taste with something a bit sweeter, especially for the seniors, like Royce Freeman, who will be playing their last game at Autzen.
“This upcoming week is a big week for all of us,” Sophomore Linebacker Troy Dye, said after last week’s win against Arizona.
“We all know what it means to this city so we’re gonna try to get that game back that we dropped last year. . . and dominate those guys up the street.”
What to Watch:
1. Oregon WR Charles Nelson
Look for Charles Nelson to make a big splash. With Justin Herbert back in the mix, the Oregon passing game is back in action. Nelson is also long overdue for a run back to the house on special teams.
2. OSU RB Ryan Nall vs. Oregon Linebackers, Troy Dye and Jalen Jelks
Last season, Nall carried the Beavers to victory against the Ducks on his back. The Ducks’ then-struggling defense had no answer for Nall as he rushed for several touchdowns in front of his home crowd. Nall’s path will not be as easy this year. Not only will he be playing at Autzen but the Oregon defense has nearly done a 180 turnaround and guys like Troy Dye and Jalen Jelks will be out to make a statement. Dye and Jelks should also have big-play opportunities against Oregon back-up quarterback Darell Garretson.
3. Royce “Rolls” Freeman
Freeman broke the Oregon record for most career touchdowns last week against the Wildcats. This week, he is likely to break the record for the most career rushing touchdowns of all time in the Pac 12. Any guesses what NFL Draft round he’ll be picked up in?
Get ready Ducks fans! It’s time for “war”. That bad taste has been lingering way too long.