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Jason says: OSU capable of beating less-than-ready Ducks

All signs point to Oregon working to overcome its devastating loss to Stanford. Then again, coach Chip Kelly closes practice, always claims the Ducks practice well and usually says all the right things in public.

No disputing, through 10 games, that if practice makes perfect, the Ducks must have practiced well.

"We've put it behind us," Kelly says, of last week's defeat at home and fall from No. 1 to 5 in the polls. "We're getting ready to play a really good Oregon State football team. Our guys know what to do."

I'm just wondering how much the playing field has been leveled by the Cardinal's 17-14 overtime conquest of Oregon, and how much Oregon State can be buoyed by such an outcome. The Beavers aren't slouches to start with, and now with the Ducks reeling somewhat, having been knocked from the national championship hopeful perch ...

I think Oregon State can beat the Ducks (noon Saturday, Reser Stadium, Pac-12 Networks). Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not. We might see Oregon revert to its former self, but I don't think the game will be a blowout.

Clearly, the Beavers want to watch what Stanford did on defense — commanding the line of scrimmage, getting to UO guys in space and tackling them, covering well — and try to do the same, with their own twists. It's not like OSU's defense enters the game subpar, anyway. It's pretty solid, with good cover corners (Rashaad Reynolds, Jordan Poyer), athletic linebackers and a good defensive line, led by ends Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn.

Also, one would think Oregon State would look at what Stanford did on offense — run the ball, chew up clock. If QB Sean Mannion plays well, like he did against UCLA, Arizona and California (and last year against UO with three TD passes), and stretches the field with receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks, it could open up more room for the OSU running game, which has managed a total of just189 yards on 75 carries in the past three Civil War games. It's imperative for OSU to run the ball — even USC has run the ball effectively to complement Matt Barkley-and-crew's explosive passing plays in the past two USC-Oregon games.

As for Oregon, how much mojo was lost at Autzen Stadium last Saturday? Can QB Marcus Mariota get the offense going and connect with some receivers? Can running back Kenjon Barner (131 yards in past two games) regain his form, led by an offensive line which didn't do well against Cal and Stanford?

I tend to think that Oregon State's all-around team and playmakers, combined with being at home, playing the rival school, trying to end a four-game Civil War losing streak and Oregon entering the game without its full-fledged swagger tends to favor the Beavers. Also, even though Oregon won the past two Civil War games (49-21 last year, 37-20 in 2010), the sub-.500 Beavers had stretches of being very competitive, especially in the '10 game at Reser.

Obviously, the Beavers want to prevent Oregon from getting its rhythm going offensively, because if the Ducks establish that, they could run up five or six touchdowns, quickly.

It'll be interesting to see whether the Ducks have the character and heart to respond to their defeat.

They might respond, and still lose.

THE PICK: Oregon State 37, Oregon 31