The Matchup: Oregon bounced back from their season-opening loss to LSU with a 69-20 thrashing of Nevada. The Missouri State Bears are off to an 0-2 start after a 51-7 loss to Arkansas and a 28-24 loss to the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky. There's no sugar coating it, this is a paycheck game. Missouri State is coming into Autzen to lose by a lot, and get paid to do it. The nature of the beast in college football is that lower-tier teams need games like this to sustain their program. It doesn't make for very exciting football, but it keeps athletic departments in business.
The Injuries: Oregon RB Kenjon Barner missed last week's game, as did WR Josh Huff, and I wouldn't expect either player to rush back for this contest. Suffering injuries against Nevada were WR Justin Hoffman and LB Michael Clay. CB Cliff Harris returned to action with a cast on his hand, and is rumored to be playing with a broken finger.
The Venue: Thomas J. Autzen Stadium
Key Players - Missouri State
QB Trevor Woodson - a threat with both his arm and his legs, Woodson returned from a one-game suspension to account for 333 total yards against EKU.
WR Jermaine Saffold - the senior was an all Missouri Valley Football Conference player last year, and caught six balls for 126 yards last week.
LB Ryan Callender and S Mike Crutcher - After scanning the play-by-play from last week's game, these two showed up a lot. Callender, a sophomore, finished with seven tackles, and Crutcher had eight tackles and a pass deflection.
Key Players - Oregon
WR Will Murphy - Chip Kelly's giving him playing time. I'm hoping we eventually figure out why. This game should serve as an audition for the wide receiving corps. If guys like Eric Dungy or Daryle Hawkins can get out and make plays, they could move up the depth chart to start Pac-12 play.
WLB Derrick Malone - If Michael Clay is out, Malone would be in line for the start. This game is big in terms of establishing depth, and Malone is a prime candidate for heavy minutes.
RB Tra Carson - I'm excited to see more out of him on Saturday. We know what LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas can do. Can Carson be a significant contributor this season?