The Oregon Ducks are taking on the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen for the annual Civil War this weekend. The two teams come in on very divergent paths. Oregon is shooting for their 3rd straight conference title, and 4th straight Civil War win. OSU is battling for pride, as they will be sitting on their couches once again during bowl season.
Over the last few meetings, Oregon State has been unable to contain Oregon's offense, specifcally the running game. In the last 3 meetings, Oregon has gained 694, 489, and 491 yards. On the ground, those numbers are 385, 288, and 346. Over those 3 games, the Ducks have averaged 50 carries per game, at 6.8 yards per carry.
Unfortunately for the Beavs, the 2011 squad is not a good team, and has a poor rushing defense. In previous years, the Beavers have had an average rushing defense, consistently in the middle of the pack in rushing defense. This year, the Beavs are 11th in rushing defense (in conference play), and are giving up 4.68 yards per carry. Advanced statistic don't paint a prettier picture. The Beavs ranked 73rd in the country in Rushing S&P+.
They are now tasked with stopping the top rushing attack in the Pac-12, if not the country. They boast the top stable of running backs, as well as (arguably) the best running back in the country in LaMichael James, even though he's been dinged up.
Simply put, I don't see any way that OSU can slow down the Ducks. They boast a good pass rush, but that is due to quick and undersized defensive ends, which will be rendered almost useless by Oregon's spread attack.
OSU's passing defense is improved, and boast two strong players in Jordan Poyer and Lance Mitchell. But I doubt they will have the ability to play a significant role in the game. The Ducks can use their rushing attack to move down the field, and gain chunks through play-action over the middle.
Just looking at the two teams, this game is a significant mismatch. Oregon is four touchdown favorites for a lot of good reasons. But when Oregon has the ball, Oregon's strength matches up with OSU's weakness, and the Ducks should be able to exploit that. They should move the ball on the ground, in chunks and consistently. If the Ducks execute (and as we saw against USC, that could quickly become a big if), there is little reason they shouldn't run for another 300+ yards on the ground.