It's been a quiet week around ATQ, and we haven't said a whole lot about the Civil War. A big part of that is that we don't know how exactly to handle the fact that our team is 11-0, on the verge of playing in the only postseason game that matters.
And most of us are afraid of acknowledging the obvious: Oregon should destroy OSU this weekend. It's football, and anything can happen, but Oregon holds almost all the advantages going into tomorrow's matchup.
While the Ducks are on offense, the Beavers will hold only one significant advantage, Stephen Paea. He gave the Ducks fits last year, and I expect him to be a strong presence in the middle, but outside of that, the Ducks should win. But with DT Brennan Olander and LB Kieth Pankey unlikely to play much, an already weak front 7 for the Beavs will have significant problems. Even if Paea has a strong day, the rest of the Beaver defense will have problems taking advantage of Paea's strong play.
Paea has matched his production this season from last, and increased on that slightly, but the rest of the Beavs haven't helped him at all. OSU is giving up 50 more yards per game on the ground this season, and boast the second worst pass efficiency defense in the conference.
If OSU packs the box, then the Duck receives should be able to take advantage of their one-on-one matchups, and if OSU drops back, the Ducks will run it all over them. It sounds like OSU DC Mark Banker will be keeping his gameplan very simple, but I just don't think OSU has the talent or depth to be able to execute this type of gameplan. It's their best bet, but it will likely be a losing proposition either way.
And while I'm sure we're all excited to watch the Oregon offense tomorrow, I'm more excited to see how the Oregon defense responds, because this OSU offense is exactly the type of offense this Oregon team has shut down all season.
You can be sure that OSU will get some yards, and move the ball pretty well. But Oregon has thrived all season at getting other teams into 3rd and long opportunities, and forcing them to be one-dimensional. OSU will fall right into that. This season, 12% of their passing plays have resulted in a sack or an interception, up from 7.5% last year. And without James Rodgers (OSU's most explosive and dangerous player), OSU is not prepared to make up for their mistakes.
OSU will try to stretch the field vertically, but they will have a very hard time overcoming their poor offensive line. I'm confident that Oregon will be able to shut down the OSU running game with just their line and linebackers, allowing the secondary to worry about the passing game. Oregon has excelled at this all year, and we will likely see that continue.
If Oregon forces the Beavers to drive the length of the field, I don't imagine that the Beavers will put all that many points up on the scoreboard.
This game shouldn't scare Duck fans. This team is prepared. They have prepared harder and faster than any team in the country, and that is why they are 11-0. They are going to come out motivated, and going to do what they've done all season.
The only reason we're worried is because of what is at stake. And it is college football. Anything can happen. But I have full confidence in this team and coaching staff. They will leave it all on the field tomorrow, no matter the outcome.
So sit back and enjoy it everyone. It's been an amazing year, and we're lucky to watch a great football team. We have one more regular season game to enjoy. So make the most of that. GO DUCKS!