Still a lot to play for UO, OSU
In the Bleachers with BillyI could hear the hearts of Oregon Duck fans shattering after Stanford's Jordan Williamson slipped a 37-yard field goal through the uprights in overtime Saturday, giving the Cardinal a 17-14 upset win over the BCS No. 2 Ducks in Autzen Stadium.
With the loss, the Ducks are going to need some help from some friends in order to get into the Pac-12 championship game, and then even more help to get back into the national championship game picture after tumbling from the runner-up spot to No. 5 in the latest BCS rankings.
While most of Eugene, and all the bandwagon fans, went to a panic, it was brought on by the man in the visor, Chip Kelly.
Not kicking a field goal early in the game, on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line, ended up being the most crucial mistake in the game.
I understand he doesn't like kicking field goals, and by the way his kicker performed late in the game, missing two long kicks, I kind of understand it.
However, the first field goal, it attempted, would have been about 19 or 20 yards, depending on where the holder lined up. I could make one from that distance, right now.
Kelly better not try any of that stuff against Oregon State this weekend. While the Ducks can still get into the national title game, albeit a long shot, the Beavers just clobbered Cal last week and are hungry to relegate the Ducks to the Sun Bowl.
Oregon State's defense is built similar to Stanford's. Big and physical up front with great linebackers, and I fully expect the Beavers to at least slow down the Ducks' running attack.
On paper, the Ducks are the better team. I think everyone can agree on that. With quarterback Marcus Mariota and the weapons he has at his disposal, they are a threat to put the ball in the end zone at any time from anywhere on the field.
Stanford proved, however, that the Ducks are vulnerable. Just like any option-run team, the key lies in not letting the running backs "get the edge," meaning turn up the field once they get past the defensive end of outside linebacker.
Stanford did an incredible job stringing out those wide plays to the sidelines, and Oregon hardly tried to go down the field vertically with passing, something they should have done given Stanford's defensive backfield playing shallow to support the run most of the game.
If Oregon State can replicate what the Cardinal did on defense, this game should be a good one. After the awful season the Beavers had last season, any bowl game they reach this year is an improvement. A win here could potentially put them in the Holiday Bowl if things work out right.
Also, if the Ducks win, it will be five straight wins against the Beavers. I know the mild-mannered Mike Riley won't come out and say it bothers them, but it has to.
The Beavers will play with the same chip on their shoulder they always have, and it will make for one heck of a Civil War.