Riley says Oregon-Wisconsin Rose Bowl would be 'very interesting'
EUGENE - The Oregon State Beavers may be able to give the Oregon Ducks some pointers for Friday's inaugural Pac-12 championship game.
Oregon will face UCLA, which secured a spot as the South Division champion when Utah lost to Colorado on Friday.
Oregon State faced UCLA Sept. 24 in a losing effort that saw the Bruins more than double the rush yards of the Beavers.
Oregon State did little to stop Oregon's running game on Saturday, either, allowing LaMichael James and gang to run for 365 yards as the Ducks captured the Civil War 49-21 at Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks-Bruins match up could be a battle on the ground, as UCLA ranked third in the conference in rushing with 193 yards per game going into Saturday night's game against USC, while the Ducks ranked first with 293.
OSU redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Mannion had a similar game against UCLA to his game against Oregon, throwing for only 12 yards less (287 to 299) and three fewer completions (24 of 40 to 24 of 44). In both games, however, Mannion had multiple turnovers, which both the Bruins and Ducks were able to turn into points.
UCLA ranked third in the conference in pass defense going into Saturday, allowing 219 yards per game, and was tied for third with Oregon in defensive interceptions with 10.
If Oregon is hoping to win next Friday, quarterback Darron Thomas must have a better start than his first quarter against the Beavers, when he only threw for 35 yards on 5-of-11 passing.
Although the Ducks' defense will face a different Bruins quarterback than Oregon State did - Richard Brehaut was the starter against OSU, but broke his leg Oct. 8 against Washington State - UCLA's potent pistol offense can cause defenses problems, regardless of who is at the helm.
Beavers coach Mike Riley says the similarity between UCLA's pistol and Oregon's spread offense could be an advantage for the Ducks.
'It's almost like playing their own team,' Riley says. 'On offense, the possible pitch guys and the quarterback carrying the ball (are similar). On defense, the gap responsibilities, the pursuit angles and open-field tackling are key issues for both.'
If the Ducks get past the Bruins in the conference title game, they may end up facing in the Rose Bowl another opponent the Beavers have played this year: Wisconsin. The 16th-ranked Badgers faced little opposition in 19th-ranked Penn State on Saturday, winning 45-7 and earning the right to play for the Big Ten championship Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium. If Wisconsin beats Michigan State in that game, it will earn a trip to Pasadena.
As Riley puts it, the Badgers would be a much different opponent than the Bruins.
'They're a little more difficult," Riley says. "Wisconsin has all the parts: a great running game, a very productive and high-percentage passing game and a super-athletic quarterback. It would be a very interesting match-up.'