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Buzzer Beater Avoided; Ducks Take Down Broncos 66-54

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There wouldn’t be a mid-court shot at the buzzer this time.

When Boise State last made an appearance inside Matthew Knight Arena, the Broncos ended the Ducks’ 46-game home winning streak with a miracle shot to stun Oregon.

But that was then and this is now.

Oregon found itself offensively in the second half, erased a four-point halftime deficit and pulled away from the Broncos with a 66-54 win in front of 8,506 fans.

This was the first game of a rare home-and-home non-conference series as the two teams will meet again in Boise Dec. 29.

The Ducks improved to 6-3 on the season, while Boise State dropped to 4-6.

Even before the game, news occurred as it was announced that Bol Bol would be out for at least this game with an unspecified injury to his right foot. The big 7-2 freshman was wearing a boot and he will be reevaluated next week.

It took the Ducks 20 minutes, or the entire first half, to find their offensive game without their star center. It’s going to be tough to replace Bol’s 21 points and 9.6 rebounds per game and early on, Oregon definitely missed the big freshman’s output.

Boise State managed to take a 28-24 halftime lead, but once the Ducks were able to go back into the locker room and devise a new game plan, it was a completely different story.

Oregon was a lot more aggressive on the offensive end in the second half. The Ducks drove the ball to the basket frequently for easy hoops or free throws. As a result, the Ducks outscored the Broncos 42-26 in the second half.

Payton Pritchard led the Ducks with 19 points, 13 of those coming after halftime. Paul White picked a good time for his best game of the season, 14 points, 11 in the second half, to help out with the effort. Victor Bailey, Jr. came off the bench to score 13 as well.

Oregon shot 49 percent on 21-of-43 from the field and it made 20-of-25 from the charity stripe.

The numbers weren’t so kind for the visitors, however.

Boise State shot just 35 percent from the field (18-of-51) and 61 percent from the free throw line (11-of-18). The only thing keeping the team from the Mountain West in the game was they made 7-of-16 from three-point land.

It didn’t help the Broncos that their two leading scorers, RJ Williams (14 ppg) and Justinian Jessup (12 ppg) were help to just two points each. Alex Hobbs, who came into the game averaging nine points per game, led Boise State with 21 points. He managed to hit five three-pointers.

Marcus Dickinson and Zach Haney each added 11.

It’ll be a big week for the Ducks as not only will they play Florida A&M on Tuesday and at Baylor on Friday, the fate of their season might rest on what a doctor says.

If Bol is out for an extended period of time, that will change the entire season outlook for a team that is the pre-season favorite to win the Pac-12. With him, they are at least a Sweet 16 possibility and perhaps more. Without him, the NIT seems a lot more likely.

~ Don Smalley
www.DuckNews.com

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Ducks Get Defensive in Win Over Toreros, 65-55

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Oregon was down 29-20 to San Diego with 4:31 left until halftime. Things were looking bleak for the pre-season Pac-12 favorites.

But then the Ducks decided to turn up the heat on the defensive end and as a result, the Toreros melted away and Oregon came away with a 65-55 win in front of 7,191 inside Matthew Knight Arena.

Bol Bol led the Ducks with 20 points, nine rebounds and four blocks for good measure to help his team to improve to 6-3 on the season. San Diego fell to 8-3, but the West Coast Conference team has some impressive wins on its resume and could very well play in the NCAA tournament come March.

Payton Pritchard filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Kenny Wooten played another good game, especially on the defensive end. While he just blocked one shot, he altered countless others and grabbed six boards and added eight points to the effort.

Isaiah Pineiro led a trio of Toreros in double figures with his 14 points and nine rebounds. Olin Carter added 12 points with Tyler Williams’ 11 points and nine boards.

There were plenty of rebounds to go around for both teams as field goal shooting was at a premium in the rare defensive struggle. San Diego shot 41 percent (20-for-49) from the field, but just 25 percent (7-of-28) from three-point range.

Oregon wasn’t that much better.

The Ducks managed to shoot 42.6 percent on 23-of-54 from the field and just 4-of-15 from long range (26.7 percent). But Oregon did outrebound the Toreros by a 35-31 margin.

Once Oregon decided to turn up the defensive pressure to an 11, the Ducks went on an 11-2 run to end the half and was down just 32-31 as both teams headed to the locker room.

The second half game plan for the Ducks was obvious, keep up that pressure on the defensive end of the floor to set up some easy shots. It also created some turnovers. San Diego turned the ball over 16 times, while the Ducks committed just nine miscues.

Bol laid the ball in at the 16:57 mark to give the Ducks a 39-37 lead and Oregon never trailed from that point on. He scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half and many of those came off of little 10-foot jumpers in the key that San Diego just had no answer for.

Oregon’s biggest lead was the final tally at 65-55.

Things don’t get easier for the Ducks as they have just two days to prepare for a very good Boise State team in the first of a very rare home-and-home non-conference series with the Broncos.

It was just a little over a year ago the last time Boise State paid a visit to Eugene and Oregon may never forget it. Lexus Williams hit a shot from midcourt at the buzzer to stun the Ducks 73-70 to break a 46-game home winning streak.

Thankfully for Oregon’s sake, Williams was a senior and is no longer a Bronco. Boise State may wish he still was as it is struggling with a 4-5 record. But it is on a two-game win streak with victories over Central Washington and Alabama State.

The two teams are scheduled for a 6 pm tip televised on the Pac-12 Network. The Ducks and Broncos will meet again Dec. 29 in Boise.

  ~ Don Smalley
www.DuckNews.com

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Ducks Rebound in King’s Debut, 84-61

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Dana Altman has been waiting for his entire team to show up and on Dec. 8, it finally did.

Oregon (5-3) played its first seven games without the key cog of Louis King. But the McDonald’s All-American debuted tonight and made an immediate impact. King scored 11 points in his 16 minutes of action to help the Ducks to a much-needed 84-61 win over Nebraska-Omaha (3-7).

While King’s 11 points doesn’t seem like much, his presence on the floor made a huge impact on the other players. It’s no coincidence that Kenny Wooten scored a season-high 20 points to go along with five rebounds. At 6-9, King showed what kind of a nightmare he can be for smaller defenders.

The Mavericks’ defense, and every other defense that follows, won’t be able to key in on Bol Bol, which frees the big 7-2 center to play with just one guy on him. Bol took advantage with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Victor Bailey, Jr. poured in 16 points on 5-of-6 from the field and four treys from the outside. Payton Pritchard managed to dish out 10 assists as well.

Oregon’s rotation is now a bit longer and more experienced. Will Richardson and Abu Kijab was placed into the starting lineup with seniors Ehab Amin and Paul White coming off the bench. White had his best game since the season opener by sinking a pair of threes.

No one is going to confuse Nebraska-Omaha with UCLA or Arizona and Oregon will face stiffer competition soon, but after losing two in a row, the Ducks needed a win.

Perhaps even more than a win, they needed confidence and maybe a little hope. The pre-season Pac-12 favorites were upset at home by Texas Southern and looked lackadaisical at Houston.

But all of that changed against the Summit League member.

Oregon shot 59 percent from the field (33-of-56) and sank 12-of-23 from beyond the arc. King made his first three treys and Bol also hit a couple of threes.

Zach Jackson led the Mavericks with 21 points and JT Gibson added 18. The visitors shot 42 percent (21-of-50), but managed to stay relatively close thanks to a dozen three-pointers of their own.

But Oregon used its height advantage time after time to get easy offensive rebounds and put-back hoops. The Ducks dominated on the boards to the tune of 36-13. They almost had as many offensive rebounds (10) as Nebraska-Omaha had for the entire contest.

It was a close game early on, but when Oregon went on a 16-2 run to break out to a 25-10 lead, the Ducks never looked back.

The schedule gets a bit tougher on Wednesday when the Ducks will face a 7-2 San Diego team. The Toreros have defeated Colorado earlier this season and almost upset Washington in Seattle before going down 66-63.

Don Smalley
www.DuckNews.com

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Ionescu Dishes Out Record 17 Assists in Duck Romp

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Add one more entry into the program record books for Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu after the junior guard dished out 17 assists in the Ducks’ 110-48 shellacking of Long Beach State Sunday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena.

“I think sometimes she just wakes up in the morning and says to herself ‘I’m going to set the assist record today’” said Oregon head coach Kelly Graves. “… she was hunting them too and I thought it made the team better.”

All eight available players logged in excess of 15 minutes of court time and six posted double figures, led by forward Erin Boley’s 24 points combining a nice mix of treys and shots on cuts into the paint.  Ruthy Hebard grabbed a game high 14 rebounds and scored 19 points, hitting eight of her eleven attempts from the floor. With Satou Sabally and Maite Cazorla adding 18 points apiece and the team as a whole shooting at a 60.9% clip for the night Ionescu was quite content to feed the ball to the open player.

“I honestly didn’t even know I broke it until (they) told me after the game<” she said “My teammates hit shots.”

“I thought we came out prepared,” Graves said. “… we came out with intensity and I thought we were focused throughout the game. As a coach, that pleases me.”

Defensively the Ducks held Long Beach State to 34.5% shooting from the floor on 20-58 (4-29 3pt.) and forced 18 turnovers, turning them into 23 points.

On both ends of the court, Oregon owned the paint, out scoring Long Beach State 50-20 inside and more than doubling them up in rebounds, 41-20.

Finals week has the Ducks off the court until December 9th when they will play Michigan State in East Lansing. Tip off is set for noon and will be televised by ESPN2. After facing South Dakota State in Brookings, SD on Wednesday (5:00 pm ESPN3), the Ducks return to host Mississippi State at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 18th in what will be the first match up between top-10 teams at Matthew Knight Arena.

~ Rick Morgan
www.DuckNews.com

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Ducks Bounce Baylor in Five Set Thriller; Advance to Sweet Sixteen

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The 15th-ranked Oregon Ducks and the 25th-ranked Baylor Bears squared off in a battle royale Friday evening at Matthew Knight Arena with the Ducks coming away with a five set  (25-15, 13-25, 25-17, 22-25, 15-13) heart attack of win to advance to the Sweet 16 round of the 2018 NCAA volleyball championships.

As it had been in Oregon’s opening round victory over the New Mexico State Aggies, senior outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide again and again put balls on the floor for the Ducks when they needed a point or a side out.

Oregon opened the first set clicking on all cylinders offensively, taking a 20-9 lead before the Bears found their bearings, rallying back to within six points before Taylor Borup closed out the set with back-to-back kills.

Baylor flipped the script in set two. Tied at 5, the Bears outscored the Ducks 20-8 the rest of the way to even the match at a set a piece.

Round three was more of a toe-to-toe slugfest with Oregon never trailing after breaking a 2-2 tie, then grinding their way to a six to eight point lead down the stretch, Willow Johnson’s service ace wrapping up the set at 25-17.

Oregon picked right up where they left off in set four, taking an early lead and holding the advantage until late in the set when Baylor leveled the score at 20 then out pointed the Ducks 5-2 to send the match to a deciding fifth set.

“I hate fifth sets,” said Vander Weide. “But after we lost that fourth set we were saying ‘OK, we are not losing another one.’”

They didn’t. Oregon jumped to a 11-5 lead and held off a late Baylor push to advance to the second weekend of the championship for the first time since 2014 and for the first time in Vander Weide’s career.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “I’m probably not going to be able to sleep tonight for a while. This is just great, especially with this team. I couldn’t have asked to do it with anyone else.”

“So proud of my team right now to get to go to the Sweet 16 and keep playing,” said Oregon head coach Matt Ulmer. “…We made plays at the end. Baylor played great, we fought back and forth the whole time.”

In her last appearance at Matthew Knight Arena Vander Weide was busy, taking an unheard of 60 swings and posting 21 kills to lead the Ducks. Willow Johnson added 11 kills and was again a weapon from the service line with three aces.

Oregon out hit the Bears .244 to .208.

Oregon’s opponent in the round of 16 is yet to be determined, as is the time and date. All that is certain at this point is the Ducks are still playing and ready to take the show on the road.

~ Rick Morgan
www.DuckNews.com

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Lindsey Vander Weide’s 18 Kills Lead Ducks Past New Mexico State

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“Lindsey Vander Weide played like an All-American tonight” said Oregon head coach Matt Ulmer after his senior outside hitter posted 18 kills to lead the Oregon Ducks past the New Mexico State Aggies three sets to two (25-22, 28-25, 25-21, 25-11) to advance out of the opening round of the 2018 NCAA championship tournament Thursday evening at Matthew Knight Arena.

“I felt like things were not clicking well with some other hitters so I know that is when I have to step up an do my job,” said Vander Weide.

One of those hitters that struggled on the attack in the early going was left-hander Willow Johnson. After the Ducks and the Aggies split the first two sets and midway through a back-and-forth third, Johnson found another way to help out her team.

Not often called upon to serve, Johnson found herself remaining in the full rotation when Taylor Borup was sidelined with an ongoing ankle issue after two sets. With the Ducks leading 16-13 in the third set, Johnson toed the back line and served up four straight Oregon points, one with a service ace to put Oregon in front 2-1.

Then in the fourth, the Ducks rattled off 10 straight points on Johnson’s serve to take a 15-6 lead and then coasted to the 25-11 result to advance to face Baylor in Friday’s second round action.

“I knew I wasn’t having a good offensive night … I had the opportunity to serve so I really focused in and tried to give something to my team … just serving tough and aggressive,” said Johnson.

“She had good pace on it and a lot of spin,” New Mexico State’s Briana Ainsworth said of Johnson’s offerings from the service line. “She was going back there and cranking it. A lot of our passes either got shanked or went off the net.”

The Ducks out hit the Aggies .315 to .207 and had a 62-48 advantage in digs.

With the win the Ducks advance to face Baylor at 7:00 pm on Friday. The 25th-ranked Bears eliminated Hawaii in five hard-fought sets (23-25, 23-25, 25-14, 26-24, 16-14) earlier in the evening.

~ Rick Morgan
www.DuckNews.com

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Texas Southern Stuns No. 18 Ducks, 89-84

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Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise that Texas Southern would come into Matthew Knight Arena and give the Ducks all they could handle.

Last season, the Tigers went to the NCAA tourney and almost upset Oregon early in that year. They also upset Baylor in Waco to open this season.

Well, Texas Southern just pulled off its second upset of the young campaign with an 89-84 win over the No. 18 Ducks in front of 6,926 fans that went home disappointed.

Oregon (4-2) wasted a career-high 32 points from Bol Bol, but his 7-2 counterpart on the other team, had a monster game of his own. Trayvon Reed was perfect from the field (9-9) and from the free throw line (5-5) to go for 23 points and seven rebounds.

Tigers guard John Jones seemingly shapeshifted into Steph Curry by hitting big shot after big shot to erase a 10-point second half deficit. The 6-foot guard scored 20 points on the night going 7-of-11 from the field, including a trio of treys.

The Ducks held a 39-32 halftime lead, but Texas Southern outscored them 57-45 in the second half. Oregon also came into the game leading the country in defensive field goal percentage, allowing opponents to shoot just 32 percent.

The Tigers (2-4) ended the night shooting 58 percent in the second half and 48 percent for the game.

The defending SWAC champs also outrebounded the bigger Oregon team 41-32.

Despite Bol’s 32 points, offensive production for the Ducks was at a premium. Payton Pritchard scored 14 with Will Richardson and Victor Bailey, Jr. each added 13. Paul White managed eight.

What hurt the Ducks’ offense was both Ehab Amin and Kenny Wooten were held scoreless. Wooten didn’t play in the second half as he banged up his knee right behind halftime.

His absence left a gaping hole in the middle on defense and Texas Southern took full advantage. Reed scored 14 points after halftime.

For a while, the Ducks had this game under control. When Abu Kijab managed lay-in off of a turnover, Oregon had a 51-38 lead with 16:28 left.

That was when everything went up in smoke for the Ducks.

Texas Southern went on a 13-3 run to pull within three at 54-51 just four minutes later. Oregon was able to hold the lead for another two minutes, but when Reed dunked in on a lob, it was 59-59 with 10:24 remaining.

It was officially game on.

The two teams went back and forth for a bit, but when Jayln Patterson knocked down a trey at the 8:56 mark to give Texas Southern a 66-64 lead, the Tigers never trailed again.

Oregon did manage to tie the game back up when Bol nailed his fourth three of the game to make it 73-73 with 3:12 left.

Texas Southern was able to go to Reed inside for yet another dunk to gain the lead right back. The big center then hit his foul shots, something he didn’t do before tonight. Reed entered the game 8-of-16 from the charity stripe, but hit all five attempts against Oregon.

The last two minutes turned into a free throw shooting contest and Texas Southern sank 8-of-10 shots to seal the upset win.

Oregon will now try to put that loss behind and prepare for a tough road game at Houston on Saturday (6 pm, ESPN2). The Cougars are 4-0, including a win at BYU. It’ll also be the opening game in their renovated facility, now called the Fertitta Center, which seats close to 9,000 Cougar faithful.

    ~ Don Smalley
  www.DuckNews.com

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Ducks Run Away With Big Civil War Victory, 55-15

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Justin Herbert played just one half. Dillon Mitchell finished with one catch for nine yards. Oregon completed just one pass in the second half.

Given those facts, one would assume the 122nd Civil War was a complete disaster for the Ducks.

Not so.

Oregon dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and rushed for 392 yards as the Ducks manhandled Oregon State 55-15.

The Ducks finished the regular season 8-4 and 5-4 in conference. The eight wins are their highest since 2013. The Beavers’ season ended with a 2-10 record and a thud.

Oregon’s bowl destination is not known yet and the Ducks may not know until after the Pac-12 title game next week.

While Oregon was running up and down the field, the Duck defense held Beaver tailback Jermar Jefferson to just 64 yards. The freshman came into the game second in the conference in rushing, averaging nearly 120 yards per game.

But the Ducks made sure that if they were to be beat, Jefferson wasn’t going to be the one that does it. Jim Leavitt’s game plan was to see if OSU quarterback Jake Luton could have enough success to defeat them.

Luton did have his moments, throwing for 287 yards and two touchdowns, but he was also picked off two times. One of those interceptions went for six points the other way.

Thomas Graham, Jr. was the recipient of the Pick-6 when he jumped a route and went 38 yards to pay dirt. That defensive score at the beginning of the fourth quarter made it 41-9 Ducks and the game was well in hand.

It was quite evident early on that it was going to be a very long day for the Beaver defensive line. The Ducks scored a touchdown on their first possession with a six-play, 67-yard drive. Five of those plays were runs for chunks of yardage for Travis Dye and CJ Verdell, who ended the drive with a 21-yard touchdown on a screen pass.

“From the get go, we wanted to start out fast and the momentum kept building and it turned into more of a complete game, more of our style of football,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said of his first Civil War win. “I’m proud of our football team.”

That touchdown to make it 7-0 just four minutes into the game was Verdell’s first of five scores on the day. He finished his first Civil War experience with 187 yards and fourth other touchdowns on the ground.

Verdell didn’t even lead Oregon in rushing.

Not to be outdone, Dye’s initial rivalry game was also a nightmare for the Beavers. The true freshman finished the game with 199 yards and two touchdowns.

Both teams exchanged possessions and when Oregon got the ball with 4:02 left in the first quarter on their own 44, the Ducks went to work. Verdell gained 17 yards on the first play of the drive and then punched it in six plays later to make it 14-0 with 2:06 left in the first quarter.

Oregon State was finally making its way down the field thanks to a couple of 15-yard defensive penalties. Eventually, the Oregon defense forced a 40-yard Jordan Choukair field goal attempt that went wide left. It was a tough game for the junior kicker who also missed an extra point.

The Ducks took over on the 22-yard line and took just three minutes to go 78 yards for their third touchdown, another Verdell 1-yard plunge to make it 21-0.

The crowd of an announced attendance of 39,776 finally had something to cheer about when the Beavers ran a reverse on the ensuing kickoff return to the Oregon 46. They kept on cheering as the Beavers made their way to the Duck 3-yard line.

And just when it looked like Oregon State was going to crack the scoreboard, coach Jonathan Smith thought it was time for another trick play. He brought in backup quarterback Jack Colletto for a fake run and a jump pass. But Oregon must have scouting this particular play because Troy Dye tipped the pass and Nick Pickett snatched it out of the air for the interception.

“That was a really, really big play,” Cristobal said. “It was nice to see the offense and defense compliment each other. We got good stops on defense and then the offense able to control the line of scrimmage to keep running the football and keep the defense off the field.”

Oregon’s next drive stalled with a sack on the 36-yard line with four minutes left until halftime, but this was when Herbert was hurt and wouldn’t play the rest of the game.

The Beavers did manage to break through with Choukair’s 45-yard field goal, but the home team found themselves down 21-3 at the halftime break.

Despite being dominated in the first 30 minutes, one could say that the Beavers were still in the game and the Ducks were going to have to play the second half without Herbert.

Even with that adversity staring them in the face, the Duck offense didn’t blink.

“A year ago, when we didn’t have him (Herbert), we fell apart. But this time, we rose to the occasion,” Cristobal said.

Braxton Burmeister took the snaps in the second half, but the sophomore signal caller didn’t have to do much. He just needed to hand the ball to Verdell and Dye over and over again.

And he did.

Dye scored his first touchdown from 15 yards out with 9:33 on the clock to make it 28-3. The big play came on a third-and-two from midfield and Verdell broke through the line to run 33 yards.

Oregon State finally scored a touchdown when Luton completed three big passes, the last completion being a 22-yard score to Tim Hernandez. The senior receiver barely had his foot in and after review, it was confirmed. Unfortunately for the Beavers, Choukair shanked the extra point and it was 28-9.

Choukair had a bad game, but Hernandez did not. He finished his career with a great game, six catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow receiver, Isaiah Hodgins had an even better day with eight catches for 133 yards.

But those two wide outs couldn’t carry the Beaver offense on their own. They needed help from Jefferson and maybe a tight end, but that help never came.

Oregon made it 34-9 with a drive that was set up with a forced fumble on another trick play that backfired. Oregon State tried a double reverse that the Ducks were more than ready for. Luton was crushed, dropped the ball and lineman Gus Cumberlander pounced on it.

Just 23 yards away from the end zone, Oregon wasted no time. Verdell broke through the line on a fourth-and-one to go 14 yards and the touchdown. With the rain and wind howling at the time, Cristobal decided to go for two, but it failed.

“The weather was a big deal two years ago. That was the story written in every paper and today our guys responded,” he said. “We played some of our best football up front, controlled the line of scrimmage and ended up having a real good ball game.”

That was the only thing that would fail for the Ducks on this day.

After Graham’s Pick-6, Oregon scored two more times on Dye’s 39-yard touchdown to make it 48-9 and Verdell’s third one-yard plunge to complete the Ducks’ scoring.

Hernandez’s 31-yard touchdown reception with 16 seconds left accounted for the final score.

     ~ Don Smalley
  www.DuckNews.com

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Out of the Pac – Week Thirteen

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With the exception of California and Stanford who will play their rescheduled Big Game on December 1st, we are heading into the final weekend of the regular season. And we enter that final week on an uptick with a 5-0 result with last week’s picks, setting the season record at 57-23. A quick review of week twelve results and then on to a Saturday slate of rivalry games – two of which are of the non-conference variety. 

Saturday, Nov 17
Washington 42 – Oregon State 23
(pick: Washington 48-17)
The Huskies clocked the Beavs with 28 first quarter points and were never threatened. Jake Browning and Myles Gaskins closed out their careers in fine fashion. Browning completed 17 of 23 for 242 yards and three touchdowns; Gaskins scored once, gaining 135 yards on 18 carries. Freshman Jamar Jefferson gained 115 yards on 19 carries for the Beavers.

UCLA 34 – USC 27 (pick: UCLA 38-35)
UCLA stormed back with 13 fourth quarter points, mostly on the shoulders of junior running Joshua Kelly. A transfer from UC-Davis, Kelly rushed for 289 yards and two touchdowns on forty carries. His 55-yard bolt early in the fourth quarter gave the Bruins the lead and UCLA tacked on a pair of field goals before USC quarterback J.T. Daniels’ incomplete pass ended the Trojans’ hopes on 4th and 3 at the UCLA 29 with 39 seconds remaining.

Utah 30 – Colorado 7 (pick: Utah 34-21)
For the first 30 minutes, the Buffs and the Utes were at a loggerhead, tied at seven when the teams lined up for the second half kickoff. After carving up the Oregon defense the week before, back-up quarterback Jason Shelley threw for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns and the Utes put up a 17-spot in the third quarter to win the program’s first Pac-12 Southern Division championship.

Washington State 69 – Arizona 28 (pick: Washington State 48-38)
As for the Northern Division crown, it is Washington State in the driver’s seat with a TKO of the Wildcats in Tucson. The Cougars led 21-7 after one quarter and 55-14 at the half with Gardner Minshew throwing for 473 yards and seven touchdowns in the romp.

Oregon 31 – Arizona State 29 (pick: Oregon 35-31)
Again for the Ducks it was a tale of two halves. With a 28-13 lead at the break, Oregon could only hold on for dear life as the offense stalled and the Sun Devils rallied back to have a chance to tie the game with 4:35 left in the game, but ASU quarterback Manny Wilkin’s pass on the two-point attempt was ruled to have been caught out of bounds. The Ducks had to dodge yet another bullet when Justin Herbert was intercepted on the Arizona State 46-yard line less than a minute later. Three plays into the drive linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr. stripped Wilkins of the ball and teammate Gus Cumberlander fell on the fumble to preserve the Oregon win.

Week Thirteen

Friday, Nov 23
Oregon @ Oregon State
It may never rain at Autzen but it certainly seems to every other year at Reser… and it will again in 2018. A wet field makes for funny bounces and every coach enters a rivalry game with a trick play or two saved up just for the occasion, a combination that can often cloud up the crystal ball but not so much in this case. With Oregon’s clearly stated intent to run the football and the Beavers’ defensive liabilities in stopping the run, the weather may actually play into Oregon’s hand. If they don’t get careless with the ball, Oregon puts two halves of decent football together and heads back down Hwy 99 W with a 38-23 win.

Washington @ Washington State
In the Palouse. With rain in the forecast and maybe snow. Cougars are favored by just less than a field goal but the odds makers are overlooking how effective Washington State is at keep the ball out of opposition hands. Quarterback Gardner Minshew has perfected the Mike Leach Air-Raid offense into not just a passing attack that maintains its ability to strike quickly but is now content to move the chains a chew up the clock. It is a formula that has worked nearly flawlessly so far and that won’t change on Friday. Washington State 44-21.

Saturday, Nov 24
Notre Dame @ USC
The Trojans have been a mess all season long and last week’s loss to cross town rival UCLA serves only as the prelude to what could be a steppingstone into a first ever appearance in the College Football Playoffs for the Irish. Yeah, it’s a rivalry game and anything can happen and perhaps not firing Clay Helton is the right call for the Trojans – but underachievers underachieve and that’s what USC has done more often than not in 2018. Notre Dame 33-25

Stanford @ UCLA
With the momentum of knocking off USC a week ago, an upset pick of the Bruins over Stanford is a temptation. But with Stanford as healthy as they have been all season and with a desire on the part of the Cardinal to salvage what in every other respect has been a disappointing season, the nod goes to the visitors, 37-32

Arizona State @ Arizona
The first Territorial Cup for both ASU’s Herm Edwards and Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin. The Sun Devils have been the more consistent team of the two and was in the running for the southern division championship until last week’s loss to Oregon. As impressive as the Wildcats were in dismantling Oregon two weeks back, Arizona was equally uninspiring in getting trashed last week by Washington State. Basically a pick ‘em game in Tucson although the nod goes to ASU by a bit more than that 47-38.

BYU @ Utah
Utah can’t wait to flaunt their new found status as Pac-12 southern division champions in the face of their Holy War rivals. Utah 37-17

Colorado @ California
In the aftermath of Colorado dismissing head coach Mike McIntyre after last week’s beat down at the hands of Utah, there isn’t much for the Buffs to be playing for. On the other side of the coin, Justin Wilcox has engineered a noteworthy second half turnaround for the Bears. After losing three straight games to open conference play, the Bears have knocked off Washington and USC and nearly upset Washington State over the last month of the season. Happy times in Strawberry Canyon … at least until Stanford shows up next Saturday. California 37-13.

~ Rick Morgan
www.DuckNews.com

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DucksNews Preview – Oregon State

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When we last saw the Civil War, the 115th edition for football, Oregon left the field with the biggest win in the long history of the rivalry.

The Ducks exited Autzen Stadium last November with a 69-10 win to gain a bit of revenge over the previous season’s game where the team was in shambles. To their credit, the Beavers took advantage to ease on the decade-long dominance by their rival from Eugene.

At the time, Oregon State thought its first win in the series since 2006 was going to propel it to a great season the following year. Instead, the wheels came off with Gary Anderson leaving mid-season resulting in an historically bad defense which Justin Herbert exploited time and time again.

Oregon assumed that win would also propel it to a good bowl game experience and to a great 2018. But coach Willie Taggart bolted for Florida State before the Vegas Bowl, leaving the program’s future in doubt.

The Ducks hired Mario Cristobal and he has calmed the waters with some impressive recruiting and even though this season has been up and down, Oregon’s year has been a successful one as the Civil War looms.

Although last year’s game was a rout, there was still an initiation for then offensive coordinator Cristobal to the Civil War.

“I learned the intensity of it,” he said of the rivalry. “I know it was an intense deal the year before in Corvallis and it carried over to last year’s game. Let’s just say I’ve always loved and been used to great rivalries and this one did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded expectations.

Oregon State, even with a 2-9 record entering the game, seemed to have also calmed things down with the hiring of OSU alum Jonathan Smith. The former Beaver quarterback entered Corvallis knowing he had a major rebuilding on his hands, but the team is already showing some of traits of being an overachiever who doesn’t give up until the clock hits zeros.

Just ask Colorado.

The Beavers were down 31-3 after the Buffaloes began the third quarter with a 75-yard touchdown run. After that, Oregon State outscored Colorado 24-3 in the fourth quarter and won 41-34 in overtime.

“They scheme you up pretty good,” Cristobal said of Smith’s ability to prepare his team. They really get after it, from Game 1 at Ohio State to coming back like they did at Colorado. They continue to turn out yards and points.”

That home loss was Colorado’s third straight at the time and the Buffaloes still haven’t won again.

Oregon State haven’t won since, however.

What they do have is a freshman running back and a senior quarterback capable of causing the Oregon defense fits if they aren’t prepared.

“You see a lot of explosive playmakers,” Cristobal said of the Beaver offense. “The back (Jermar Jefferson) has garnered a lot of attention and rightfully so. The offensive line has done a tremendous job for him.”

Jefferson is second in the Pac-12 with 1,316 yards (119.6 ypg) and leads the conference with 12 scores on the ground. The 5-10, 211-pounder from Harbor City, Calif. has a good chance of being the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.

Handing the ball to Jefferson is quarterback Jake Luton, who has had an injury-riddled career, but when the 6-7 signal caller is healthy, which he is now, he is a dangerous pass-thrower. Luton isn’t going to run the ball at 230 pounds as he is a traditional pocket passer.

Oregon State has allowed 46 sacks, but not on Luton. He has played in just seven games and has thrown eight touchdowns with just two interceptions.

A key to the game, as with many of these Civil Wars, is the weather, which could determine the outcome. Oregon is a 17.5-point favorite, but the wind and the rain might be the equalizer.

~ Don Smalley
www.DuckNews.com

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