Going into this year’s Civil War we have a situation for both teams that was a bit unexpected. For the UO they still have a shot at an important BCS Bowl (not a surprise) but in many ways in a bit of a disappointing situation losing their controlling their destiny last week. On the other side OSU has come into this game a surprise this season, but again in a disappointing spot in how there were chances to be in an even better position coming in.
What does this all mean for Saturday’s game?
Why I think the UO will most likely win:
- They will be mad about losing at home to Stanford in OT.
- They are deeper and more athletic across all positions versus the Beavs.
- Coach Kelly has owned Mark Banker with the UO’s many different schemes.
- The UO is the fourth (or fifth) ranked team in the country.
- The UO has been one of the best programs in the nation over the last five years, and one of the best in the Pac for a good amount of years now.
Why I think OSU actually does have a chance to win this game:
- Stanford gave the Beavs a blueprint for beating the UO. OSU and Stanford actually have similar schemes on defense. Stanford I think is a bit stronger upfront, but overall that stretching out the run game sideline to sideline and playing a solid and aggressive pass defense bodes well for the Beavs if they can match the same type of game plan the Cardinal brought last week. I am sure Kelly and Co. will be preparing for this, but if Banker can mix it up every so often the Stanford game plan could work well for the Beavs defense.
- I believe OSU’s offense, especially when it is clicking with Mannion at QB, is a better offense than Stanford’s and actually could match up better with UO’s defense than the Cardinal’s did.
- The team is good enough to hold true to their own game plan. As such skilled enough to hold to what has worked all season keeping themselves in this game, even against as a dynamic and good as team as Oregon. I know Kelly and Co. have owned the Beavs but I believe this is the best team they have faced in the last five years and the Beavs get to play at home.
- This one is a bit between the "objective" how they can win and my very personal take. I just feel the team is flying enough under the radar in this game to be a dangerous underdog. I sat through the post-game show on the Pac-12 Network after the Cal game and the talk about the UO revolved around when they end at 11 and 1 can they still make it to the Championship game if Stanford goes to the Pac Championship game. A very important question I know, but at the same time there was never any thought that the Ducks could end up 10 and 2 and what would that mean for the BCS picture. Rick Neuheisel implied that OSU would bring it all to the game, something to the effect of "they will play their hearts out" but code-phrase here to me is "they will give it an ‘A’ in effort but still will get clobbered." Now I know Cal is down and we got them at the perfect time to create a perfect storm of type of game, but still this is all coming from the pundits immediately after the Beavs beat Cal 62 to 14 and after the UO just lost. Again my theme for some of the games this season is this group needs to take things personally and this is another case. And this does not mean get all fired up and fly around "playing their hearts out" but this group can be fired up and bring a swagger along with disciplined and confident play, this is a dangerous combo if aligned right. This team was very close to coming into this game 10 and 0, but how it all panned out this is OSU’s BCS Bowl game and they need to play like it.
Why I am taking the whole thing personally (heck it is the Civil War!):
- I am an OSU fan and we have a long memory and hold petty grudges! (Insert smiley face emoticon here!) Let's spin back the clock and the year is 2008 and we are going in with some high expectations for the Beavs to win the CW and move on to the Rose Bowl. It did not happen, not even close and from there the Beavs vs. UO has been a one-sided deal. 2009 was a heck of a game but still OSU was on the losing end. It is time for this to change. And what better way for it to change with the Beavs in a very similar place as the UO was in 2008 and vice-versa? This season has the feeling of a crossroads type of deal where the Beavs are ready to make a possible leap up in the level of the program, much like the UO did in 2008 as they dispatched the Beavs and then won a solid Holiday Bowl game. The UO has not looked back since then. OSU needs to use this game as a launching pad to propel this program upwards over the next few years into a BCS type of program. Enough of weathering the storm it is time to take back their potential under Coach Riley.
- Duck fans have been saying all year it is so much better when it "means" something. I see the point and heck yes I am glad the Beavs are actually seeming to be in the position to make this a game, but at the same time there is this paranoid OSU fan side of me that reads this as "it is so much better for us when we beat you again when you actually give us some BCS points." Yeah sure this is probably reading too much into it all I know and says more about me than anything else, but still I think there is something to this attitude of the Beavs just always behind the UO (which in objective reality we are, I’m not that naïve) and I just personally feel this game needs to be for us in Beaver Nation as not a catching up game but the one where the Beavs come out and play like the 10 and 0 team they should/could have been coming into this game.
- In summary I don’t care how good Kelly and the UO are we are tired of losing these games right? I think this has been a great season for the Beavs and sure I’m disappointed by the two losses that just as easily could have been wins, but in many ways this season feels more special with more potential than 2008 or 2009. But for as great as this season has been this team indeed does have the potential to make it even more special with a strong finish and what stands in the way of this is the UO. It is time to bring back the Civil War victory flag to Corvallis.