Week 14 Game Matchup: Oregon State Beavers VS. Oregon Ducks

By Dave Consolazio and Sam Saig, December 2, 2009 11:21 am

Oregon State Beavers (8-3) vs. Oregon Ducks (9-2)
Thursday, December 3, 6:00 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: Oregon -9.5
*AllPac10 Game of the Year*

Sam’s Take (53 – 19):

Last year I watched in stunned silence as Oregon throttled Oregon State in Corvallis, and all I remember thinking by the time the 65-38 massacre ended was “Will the Beavers ever have a chance to truly get redemption?” Here we are just one year later, and somehow, that question can be answered with an emphatic yes. Now the stakes are higher than ever, as this will be the first time in the history of the Civil War that both programs can clinch a Rose Bowl berth with a victory.

I see two key areas that will be deciding factors in the War for the Roses.

1. Oregon running game vs. Oregon State run defense – This is the most obvious strength vs. strength match up. The Ducks rank first in the Pac-10 and eighth nationally in rushing offense, while the Beavers rank first in the Pac-10 and 13th nationally in run defense. Obviously Oregon easily won this battle last year, so it will be interesting to see how Mark Banker’s unit performs on Thursday.

2. Oregon State passing game vs. Oregon pass defense – This appears to be the second biggest strength vs. strength match up. OSU heads to Eugene with the best passing offense in the Pac-10 (24th nationally) and QB Sean Canfield is playing as well as any quarterback in the conference. Despite season ending injuries to Walter Thurmond and Willie Glasper, the Ducks still rank second in the Pac-10 against pass (29th nationally).

In my opinion, both defenses will struggle in this game. I have no doubt that Mark Banker will have a great game plan this week, but it may not matter. When the Ducks are rolling, they can execute their high-powered attack against any defensive scheme in the country. I also think Nick Aliotti’s unit will be in for a long game. The Ducks have yet to face ‘Quizz Rodgers, and the balanced Beaver attack can score in a variety of ways.

Ultimately, I believe Autzen Stadium will be the difference… again. Jeremiah Masoli has another gear when he plays at home, which makes Oregon’s offensive attack that much tougher to contain. I expect Masoli and LaMichael James to get going early, which will then open passing lanes for the talented Ducks receiving corps. While I expect the Beavers to match UO score for score until late in the second half, Mike Riley’s club will come up a little short in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

Here’s hoping for a classic!

Prediction: Oregon 42 – Oregon State 38

Oregon State Player to Keep an Eye On: TE Joe Halahuni – Halahuni has been one of the biggest surprises on this OSU offense in 2009, and the sophomore will be a huge part of the passing game again this week.

Oregon Player to Keep an Eye On: FS T.J. Ward – Ward is a physical defensive back who should play a huge role in defending the run as well as the pass. I look for him to have a big impact this week.

Dave’s Take (54 – 18):

When this game was scheduled back at the beginning of the season to be the prime time game on ESPN Thursday night, no one could have imagined just how big this game would be.

For either team to have the chance to clinch the Rose Bowl in this one is quite a feat; but winner take all? This is the sort of thing that you see in movies.

After going 10 straight years (1997-2006) trading blows with the home team winning every time, Oregon State finally bucked the trend in 2007 with a double OT winner at Autzen. The Ducks returned the favor in 2008, stomping the Beavers in Corvallis and costiing them a trip to the Rose Bowl. While there is little doubt that home field advantage will still play a big role in this game, the fact that the road team has won the last two games adds an interesting wrinkle.

As much as I really do believe the Beavers have a great chance in this one, I can’t pick against the Ducks, especially at home. The Ducks have now put up 42+ points in seven straight games that Jeremiah Masoli has started, and since conference play has begun they have just mowed through top conference opponents (dropping #6 Cal by 38 and #5 USC by 27).

I expect a much more competitive game than last year, but can’t find enough of an edge for the Beavers to overrule the fact that the game is in Autzen.

Prediction: Oregon 48 – Oregon State 42

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