A loss at Utah put a major dent in Oregon’s hopes to be among the four teams in the College Football Playoff, but there’s still plenty for which to play as the No. 11 Ducks renew their in-state rivalry with Oregon State on Saturday in Eugene.
The Ducks (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) can lock up the Pac-12 North Division title and a place in the conference championship game next week with a win over the Beavers (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12). Oregon is the favorite, but with the Ducks’ loss to Utah and wins for Oregon State and Washington State last weekend, the Beavers or Cougars could steal what seemed to be a given for Oregon not too long ago.
Oregon State can win the North if Washington defeats Washington State in the annual Apple Cup on Friday night and the Beavers upset the Ducks on Saturday. Washington State can overtake the Oregon schools for the title if it defeats Washington and Oregon State takes out Oregon.
Oregon is the only team that controls its own destiny. Win, and the Ducks get a rematch with Utah in Las Vegas on Dec. 3 in what would be their third straight Pac-12 championship game.
Oregon can reach 10 wins for the 12th time in program history and second time under fourth-year head coach Mario Cristobal. The Ducks are 6-0 at home this season, seeking their third straight undefeated season at home, and another win would be 19 in a row at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon has won 11 of the last 13 meetings — six straight at home — and leads the all-time series with a 66-48-10 record. The Ducks haven’t lost to the Beavers at home since 2007.
Cristobal said the 38-7 loss to Utah was not the program’s standard.
“Learn from it and go forward and attack it,” Cristobal said. “And you’re very real. That’s always been the only way around here. And so it was a good start (Sunday in practice) to get in on things because we have been playing some really good football and in fact, because we played good football up until that point, we presented ourselves with a great opportunity this Saturday. So we have to do the things that we do well, to the best of our ability.”
The Beavers are seeking a winning streak in the series. They stunned Oregon 41-38 in Corvallis, Ore, last season.
Running back B.J. Baylor has 1,200 rushing yards this season and Oregon State leads the Pac-12 in rushing offense at 229.5 yards per game. Baylor is the conference’s leading rusher.
Head coach Jonathan Smith was 2-2 against Oregon as the Beavers’ quarterback in his playing days. He and the Beavers were victorious in 1998 and 2000, both games in Corvallis.
The Oregon State defense has improved under new coordinator Trent Bray, who replaced Tim Tibesar earlier this month.
“We wanted to play well and play our best at the end of the year,” Smith said this week. “We want to be playing in meaningful games, and we’ve set the stage for that.”
–Field Level Media