Week 13 Predictions: Oregon vs Oregon State

Oregon (4-7) vs Oregon State (3-8)
Saturday, November 26h // Corvallis, OR // 1:00pm PST


Why we win BEAT Oregon State…

The Duck offense is in a groove.  Justin Herbert is looking more comfortable and the running game is returning back to form because… the offensive line has taken a giant leap forward the last couple of weeks.  If the o-line keeps playing like it has then you can bank on the Ducks scoring at least 20.  

Now the Duck defense is really the wildcard.  If they can play like they did last week at Utah, in terms of holding Utah to ONE or fewer yards on a play 22 times and not the plays of 10+ yards in 21 plays, they will dominate.

If we see the sensible side of the Ducks (limited penalties, punting for field position, taking field goals, and a commitment to running the ball) I find it hard to see how OSU gets enough big plays to win. 

You can run the ball on Oregon State. The Beavers give up 230 yards rushing per game (108th in NCAA) and 5.3 yards per rush attempt (111th). Cal, a team that averages only 150 yards rushing per game, posted 317 yards when they played OSU in early October. Considering Oregon rushed for 251 yards at Utah last week–the Utes give up an average of 132 yards per game–it would make sense for the Ducks to ride Royce Freeman and Tony Brooks-James on Saturday afternoon.

Offensively, the Beavers are 104th in total yards per game and 80th in yards per play. Compared to teams Oregon has already played, the Beavs are most similar to Virginia (95th in yards per game, 113th in ypp). This is by far the worst offense the Ducks have faced in November, so if the UO defense was ever going to have a good game, this is the one.

The players want to send Helf out with a win in his last game. The beavers aren’t very good. Herb is starting to really spread his wings and Royce was starting to look a little better last week.

Contrary to the Laws Of Sports, in my experience the Civil War visitors have tended to outplay themselves when it comes to this game. It is well known that rivalry games — even between two teams on opposite ends of the success spectrum — are often a toss up. Crazy things happen. Even teams which have been bad (Oregon State) for most of the season (Oregon State) can push the hosts to the brink  (unfortunately also Oregon State).

The most recent example of this would be the vastly over-matched Beaver squad of 2013. They came into Autzen Stadium having opened the season with a loss at home to Eastern Washington and riding a four-loss streak in Pac 12 play. They would go on to finish the year above .500 by the graces of a bowl win (7-6). And yet, they pushed the Ducks for all they had, forcing Marcus Mariota to make one of the most memorable plays of his career: a game-winning touchdown pass to Josh Huff.

Don’t underestimate the underlying storylines, either. To his credit, Justin Herbert has called this just another game, and is publicly treating it as such. That’s commendable, but I refuse to believe someone raised playing football in Eugene doesn’t care a LITTLE BIT extra about the Civil War.

Mark Helfrich is another native son of Oregon, and he has acknowledged in the past that the Civil War is always special. Imagine how special it must feel knowing you may very well be playing for your job (or Charlie Strong’s). I think the win last week spared him from seeing the chopping block, but a loss would still be very bad.
Basically what I’m trying to say is Oregon is bad, but we’re playing at Reser Stadium so maybe we’ll play well. If the team who flew to Salt Lake City last week makes the drive to Corvallis this week, expect this one to be no contest.

Our (once) Mighty Ducks come in on the heels of a Top 12 upset that NOBODY saw coming. Oregon’s 22nd ranked rush offense meets up with Little Brother’s 106th ranked rush defense. This could easily be the final game of Royce Freeman’s Oregon career & if so, expect a big output from him. Justin Herbiota continues to improve game by game & if a sudden re-emergence of Darren Carrington (né Droppington) holds for the final game of the season, Oregon should easily handle the Biebers.

Why we win LOSE to Oregon State…

If you were to tell me last week before the Utah game that Utes would have 37 rushing attempts I’d tell you the Ducks lost by double digits.  I will say the same for this week against OSU, they run the ball they will win.  No one would love to put the nail in the coffin in the 2016 season more than the Beavers.  

I expect trick plays, fake punts, jet sweeps and possibly even a fumblerooski.  If OSU’s QB Marcus McMaryion is efficient like the Beavers were against Arizona it could be a bad, bad day for the Ducks.  The Beavers average 180 yards per game from both passing and rushing and the Ducks are consistently giving up at least 220 yards per game on the ground this season.

I could see this turning into this years Stanford game if OSU stays committed to the run and manages some takeaways or trick plays.  

If you believe the spread the Ducks are doomed.  Oregon is 2-7-2 vs the spread and 1-4-0 as a favorite while the Beavers are great as an underdog (6-2-1) and very good as a home dog (3-1-1).

The Ducks can’t stop the run. Every bad thing I said about Oregon State’s rush defense can be said about Oregon’s rush defense. The Ducks allow 255 yards per game on the ground (119th) and 5.9 yards per rush (123rd). I’m not sure what the Civil War record is for most combined rushing attempts, but this game should test it. And while the Beavs are bad against the run, their overall defensive numbers are much better than Oregon’s. They allow 5.7 ypp (Oregon gives up 6.5) and 440 total yards (541 for Oregon). You can bet their goal on Saturday will be to make the Ducks beat them through the air, the strength of the Beaver defense. 

OSU should be able to pound the Ducks on 1st down, and set themselves up with a lot of short yardage situations on 2nd and 3rd down. QB Marcus McMaryion had the best day of his career last week vs. Arizona, posting more touchdowns (5) than incompletions (3) in a 42-17 victory. You gotta figure OSU is the most confident 3-8 team of all time.

It’s 2016. Nothing goes right. We have a Cheeto as the president elect. The Ducks probably miss a bowl game with the first losing season in 10 years. The players are all fixated on Tom Herman and the future. 

There are two Oregon teams that have played this year: Oregon Weeks 1-10 and Week 11 Oregon. While I’d like to believe last week was a sign of upward mobility, I’m not confident. In fact, I would be MORE surprised to see us come out like the strong, confident team of last week than if we came out like a limp fish. Or a…Lame Duck, if you will. Oh, you won’t? Ah, you’re right. I apologize. Consider it redacted.  This is a game to see who will finish last in the Pac 12. That’s a dishonor the Beavers are accustomed to — and, presumably, very tired of. I’m inclined to believe they will be more motivated than we are.

I can hardly remember when any team I’ve followed in any sport has been hit as hard by the injury bug as this year’s Oregon team has been. On top of that, discipline has been…let’s say, an issue. This is far from the roster Oregon hoped to field coming into this game. OSU has had their share of injuries as well, but none as devastating.

Well, like always, defense. Maybe Utah had an off day. Maybe Utah was looking ahead past the Ducks. Who knows. But for most of an entire game, for the first time this season, Oregon’s defense wasn’t entirely abysmal. If Oregon comes out playing Oregon defense like the first 10 games of the season, Little Bro is gonna have a good day. OSewe mopped the floor with Arizona, but let’s remember, that’s not saying much when a team has yet to win a conference game & whose only victories are against juggernauts Grambling & Hawaii. If the Arizona drubbing creates confidence & a little bit of rhythm in the Beavfense, all it will take is a lackadaisical Oregon D to find ourselves losing yet another streak in a season full of broken streaks.

The Picks…

Oregon wins. 33-28.

The Beavers are 3-3 at home, and the losses are by 14 to Boise State, 5 vs. Utah, and 4 vs. WSU — they’re a much different team in Corvallis. They’re playing a game they fully expect to win in front of their first sellout in two seasons. I think they’ll punch the Ducks early and force them to play from behind. Unlike last week, there won’t be any crazy comeback, and OSU will end their 8-game Civil War losing streak 36-31.

Oregon 37-OSU 36

I genuinely think this one is a toss up. That’s kind of fun, in a way. This is a very low-stakes game for both teams. In a sense, it’s the perfect rivalry game. Of course it would be preferable to be, say, Ohio State and Michigan. Everyone wants to play for a shot at a title. But you know what? That’s stressful. This isn’t. This is sports at its purest.

Oregon wins, 42-35.

Civil War is once again THE bowl game for both teams & my it’s been a while since we said that. This game should hinge on the type of defense that Oregon plays. I don’t believe this team has it in them yet to string together consecutive weeks of par defense. Oregon is bad, but Saturday, Oregon State is just a little bit worse. Oregon 44 Little Brother 34


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