JASON SAYS: Beavers will be competitive, but Ducks will outlast rival
So, Oregon coach Chip Kelly says, it's the youngest and most banged-up team he has been part of, a couple revelations that curiously came out after the Ducks' loss to USC.
But I think the Ducks can put things together to beat their rival on Saturday.
I haven't been able to shake the feeling all week that the Oregon State Beavers could shock the college football world on Saturday. Losing to USC and exiting the national championship picture stung the players and coaches and, in other years, I've seen such situations really go south on the Ducks.
But Kelly has a career record of 31-6, and the Ducks have not lost consecutive games during the same season under his guidance. Translation: He has done well in getting his team back on track. They'll win and make the Pac-12 title game.
I think Oregon will struggle in some ways in the 12:30 p.m. game Saturday at Autzen Stadium. I think the Beavers will be competitive throughout the game. I just got the feeling.
Every team that has a passing game has found a bit of success against the Ducks. And, many teams have been able to conjure up some rushing yardage to balance the pass.
I don't see the Beavers rushing for more than 100 yards as a team, but QB Sean Mannion will make some yardage against the Ducks. I expect Markus Wheaton to have a huge game, and James Rodgers to make an impact.
And, I think the Beavers will make some plays against the UO offense - safety Lance Mitchell and cornerback Jordan Poyer and defensive end Scott Crichton come to mind - but I don't see the visitors stopping the Ducks all day long. I think LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner, who each had 100 yards in last year's Civil War game, lead another UO running onslaught, and Darron Thomas will be efficient in the passing game.
But, no doubt, it'll be a character test for the Ducks, who can accomplish a lot in the near future - like getting to and winning a BCS game, and starting a new postseason winning tradition after going a tepid 2-6 in the past eight bowl games.
THE PICK: Oregon 34, OSU 24
Northwest Oregon Conference