Stack up: Oregon and Oregon State heading in different directions as Civil War nears
While Oregon’s matchup against USC was taking place, ESPN analyst Danny Kanell tweeted that based on the eye-test, the Ducks should be in the College Football Playoff committee’s top four.
If the committee truly went by “eye test” or “who is playing the best” right now — Oregon would be Top 4. No doubt.
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) November 22, 2015
It’s clear that Oregon has already knocked itself out of playoff contention due to its three early season losses. However, after consecutive wins over Pac-12 North champion Stanford and potential Pac-12 South champion USC, an argument can be made that the Ducks are playing just as competitive a brand of football as anyone in the nation.
It’s why they come into this week’s 119th Civil War against Oregon State as 30-plus point favorites. The betting line has as much to do with Oregon’s recent dominance as Oregon State’s consistent struggles. The Beavers (2-9, 0-8 Pac-12) have lost eight straight games and gave up 45 first half points in its most recent loss to Washington.
What it means is that the latest act in this longstanding rivalry could get ugly quick on Friday. While Oregon seems like an offense that can’t be stopped, Oregon State is struggling to keep teams off the scoreboard at such a high rate.
Here’s how Oregon and Oregon State stack up:
Oregon offense vs. Oregon State defense
Oregon’s offense leads the Pac-12 in scoring offense, total offense and rushing offense. Despite receiving virtually zero national acclaim, Royce Freeman has run at a rate comparable to Heisman Trophy candidates. He rushed 20 times for 147 yards against USC and is averaging 6.7 yards per carry on the year.
On the other hand, Oregon State ranks last in rushing defense and 11th in total defense. Its opponents are averaging 35.6 points per game and Pac-12 teams have scored at least 41 points in each of the team’s last three games. Rommel Mageo leads the team with 76 tackles, but he’s playing with a group that lacks the depth needed. The Oregonian reported that the defensive unit last week featured “one former fullback/tight end/H-back, two former wide receivers, two former walk-ons and one current walk-on.”
When a group like that is compared to one that features Vernon Adams Jr., Freeman and a chorus of other playmakers, it’s hard to think the Ducks will score anything less than 40 points.
Oregon State offense vs. Oregon defense
Oregon State quarterback Seth Collins started the first seven games of the season and displayed gifted athleticism when running with the football. He was average at throwing it and passed for 892 yards for six touchdowns. Since getting injured against Colorado on Oct. 24, he hasn’t played, and Oregon State’s offense appears to no longer have any type of playmaker who can create for himself.
Nick Mitchell replaced Collins, but was benched in favor of Marcus McMaryion during Washington’s route of the Beavers last week. With all the uncertainty at quarterback, it is no surprise that Oregon State has averaged 16.9 points per game. Wide receiver Brandon Bolden poses the best threat Oregon State has in the passing attack. He’s caught 39 passes for 418 yards this season.
Oregon State’s passing attack is facing an Oregon secondary that is much better than it was a month ago. The unit stymied a Trojans offense that was on a four-game winning streak, limiting it to just three touchdowns and forcing one turnover.
Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JustinFWise