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Oregon St. at Oregon

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#13 Oregon State (8-3, 6-2 Pac-10) at #7 Oregon (9-2, 7-1 Pac-10)

9:00 PM ESPN
Autzen Stadium (Turf)
Sports.com Line: Oregon -10

Just when you thought the college football season was ending, turns out its only just beginning. Last weekend we witnessed a host of classic rivalry games from the Border War for the Bronze Boot (Wyoming 17, Colorado State 16), to the Backyard Brawl (West Virginia 19, Pittsburgh 16), to the Border Showdown (Missouri 41, Kansas 39) to the Iron Bowl (Alabama 26, Auburn 21) and guess what? The best one might just be this Thursday night when Oregon State and Oregon hook up for the 113th edition of the “Civil War”.

This much we know already, it will be the most meaningful of all the rivalry games. That’s because they might as well rename this one the “War for the Roses” considering all that’s on the line is the Pac-10 title and a little trip to down the coast to Pasadena, CA to play in the “Granddaddy of them all”, the Rose Bowl.

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Of course, the stakes were the same for Oregon State last year at this time. All the Beavers had to do was get past Oregon and Oregon State would have made their first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1964. When the dust settled however, Oregon had taken their hated rival out to the woodshed in a 65-38 beatdown. It was the most points that Oregon State had ever surrendered in a game.

This time around the stakes are the same for both teams, marking the first time in the long history of the Civil War that both teams are playing for a Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl trip. Needless to say, it will be quite a scene at Autzen Stadium.

Just for the sake of change it will be nice to see a different program grab the Pac-10 crown. USC has had a strangle hold on the title for the last seven years.

The great thing about this game is even if you stripped away the Pac-10 title, Rose Bowl, rivalry and revenge factors and implications, this would still be one hugely entertaining game with loads of offense.

For the Ducks, the offensive engine is definitely driven by QB Jeremiah Masoli. A classic dual threat, Masoli is a master at the read-option and can kill a defense with his arm and legs having totaled 1,865 yards, and 14 touchdowns through the air and 619 yards and 12 more scores on the ground. In seven games with Masoli under center this season Oregon has scored at least 42 points.

Of course, it’s not a one-man show for the Ducks as Masoli gets help from a host of others including RB LaMichael James who has rushed for over 100 yards in eight of the past nine games. The redshirt freshman has given the Ducks a huge boost this season, especially with the absence of LeGarrette Blount for most of the year.

It will certainly be interesting to see how well the Ducks can run considering they will be facing an Oregon State defense that only allows just over 98 yards per game on the ground. The Beavers will need special performances from LB’s Keaton Kristick, Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey as well as DT Stephen Paea along the line to keep the Ducks from running wild as they did in last year’s Civil War.

But don’t forget, if it does turn into a shootout, Oregon State just might be able to trade blows with the Ducks. OSU QB Sean Canfield doesn’t get near the attention of Masoli but it’s worth noting that the fifth-year senior has completed 70% of his passes this season with just six interceptions. With Canfield under center the Beavers lead the Pac-10 in passing (272.5 yards per game).

One of the reasons that Canfield is a relative unknown outside of Oregon is that most folks know who the star of the OSU offense really is. RB Jacquizz Rodgers is clearly one of the best backs in the nation and a threat to score every time he touches the ball. “Quizz” as he is affectionately known, missed last year’s Civil War due to injury and would love to take over this game to make up for his absence last season.

To do so, Quizz will have to dent an Oregon defense that ranks 27th nationally in total defense, yielding 324 yards per game.

With two fairly similar programs, this game could easily be decided by the team that makes the fewest mistakes. In that case, Oregon State could have an advantage considering the Beavers have committed just eight turnovers this season, the second-lowest total in the nation (Cincinnati has seven).

One thing is for sure, this Civil War for the Roses will be fun to watch.

Civil War Notes:

--Oregon has played in the Rose Bowl four times with the most recent being 1994.

--Oregon State's losses this season were to Cincinnati, Arizona and USC.

--Oregon's last Pac-10 title came in 2001 with Joey Harrington under center. However, with the Rose Bowl hosting the BCS national championship game (between Miami and Nebraska) that year, the Ducks had to go to the Fiesta Bowl to face (and ultimately beat) Colorado.

--Oregon State is 6-4 against the spread (ATS) this season but an impressive 4-1 ATS on the road.

--Oregon lost its opener against Boise State and its lone conference game on the road at Stanford.

--Oregon State leads the Pac-10 and are ninth in the nation in third-down conversion, turning 48.4% of their third-down plays into first downs.

--Oregon leads the all-time series with Oregon State 56-46-10.

--In the red zone, the Beavers have scored 96% of the time, including touchdowns on 15 of their last 16 trips inside the opponent 20-yard line.

  
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