Things are, to say the least, a little bit different, this time around. Last year, Oregon trounced Oregon State to secure their fourth straight BCS bowl berth. In all four of those seasons, the Ducks ended the year with a Civil War victory over Oregon State.
In 2008, Chip Kelly’s last year as offensive coordinator, it was the Beavers playing for a shot at a BCS bowl and the Ducks playing spoiler.
But this time neither the Ducks nor Beavers will play in a January bowl game. This time, for the first time in a long time, it’s about pride. It’s about being better than your in-state rival, and that’s the case for the first time in the academic career of anybody in the student section or any player on either sideline.
A few weeks ago the Civil War looked like it would once again be a speedbump for the Ducks on their way to a premier bowl game, but then the Ducks were blown out by Stanford and Arizona while Josh Huff and De’Anthony Thomas were busy implying the Ducks didn’t hold the Rose Bowl in high regard.
Oregon State is playing to secure a winning season and improve their bowl prospects–at 6-5, the Beavs are already bowl eligible but won’t be going anywhere exciting without a season ending win.
A win for the Beavers would also go a long way towards making fans forget about the sudden downward turn things took in Corvallis after the Beavers lost to Stanford. Mike Riley’s crew then lost to USC, Arizona State and Washington in three straight weeks.
The Beavers did have a six game win streak this year, but that started after a season opening loss to FCS Eastern Washington.
Behind Sean Mannion the Beavers have one of the most potent passing attacks in the nation, racking up 388.3 yards per game–good enough for third in the nation–but Mannion’s 13 picks have cut more than a few Beaver drives short.
In what may be Mariota’s last game in Autzen the sophomore quarterback will be returning form an apparent head injury that knocked him out of the Arizona game.
For Oregon, Byron Marshall will almost certainly eclipse the 1000 yard mark, and will possibly do so on his first touch, entering the night with 995 yards on the season.
De’Anthony Thomas will take the field with 495 yards rushing on the year on just 78 carries.
Prediction: Oregon wins 48-24. Josh Huff is the MVP. Oregon plays in the Alamo Bowl against the third place team from the Big 12, either Texas, Baylor or Oklahoma. In anticipation of an Oregon/Baylor game, the Alamo Bowl installs four-digit scoreboards.