Oregon football at Oregon State: What to watch for, TV, radio and time
The meeting between Oregon and Oregon State on Saturday, Nov. 26 has more at stake for both teams than most of the previous 125 versions of this rivalry.
For the No. 9-ranked Ducks, a win secures a record fourth consecutive appearance in the Pac-12 championship game.
For the No. 21 Beavers, a victory keeps alive the opportunity for a rare 10-win season.
So, beyond the usual in-state significance, the 126th (tied with Cal-Stanford as the 11th most played series in all of college football) UO-OSU tussle shapes up as one of the special editions of this rivalry.
HOW TO WATCH
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26.
Where: Reser Stadium, Corvallis.
TV: ABC (KATU 2).
Radio: AM 1190 (Beavers), AM 620 (Beavers), AM 1080 (Ducks), FM 102.3 (Beavers).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
One of the main storylines entering the game will once again be the status of Oregon quarterback Bo Nix. He figures to play, of course, after last weekend's gutty effort in the 20-17 win over Utah. The question is whether his ankle will be improved to the point where he can again be a threat running the ball. If Nix is a threat to run, the Ducks ground game becomes much more dangerous.
In Week 13 (Game 12) of the college football season, every team — every player — is banged up. In rivalry games, so much can depend upon emotion, which team is most invested in the outcome. In this case, there is so much at stake for both teams that the emotional component might even out. That said, the Beavers have been almost lights out at Reser this season.
They should probably be unbeaten at home, except that Caleb Williams showed how special he is in USC's late comeback. The Ducks only loss away from Autzen Stadium this season was the mismatch in the opener against Georgia. Oregon has demonstrated plenty of competitive toughness and has proven leaders in Nix and others. Still, it feels like the home field could be a significant player —especially if OSU can grab momentum.
Regardless of Nix's mobility, the marquee matchup is between the Ducks offense and the Beavers defense. It will be fun to watch how coordinators Kenny Dillingham and Trent Bray match wits. Might this be Dillingham's last game calling plays for Oregon? The young OC has been linked to the Arizona State head coaching job, and is certain to get interest for other head coaching openings.
If the Ducks don't qualify for the Pac-12 title game, it's easy to see a scenario where Dillingham departs before a bowl game. Other things to watch when Oregon has the ball include how much the offensive line can dictate things against the Oregon State defensive front and whether or not the Ducks' big-play receivers can get open against the Beavers' talented secondary. If center Alex Forsyth returns and can play at his usual high level, the Ducks get a boost.
The matchup of Oregon State's offense and the Oregon defense also is fascinating. The Ducks defense came up big last week with three interceptions being key to their win over Utah. There has been speculation that Dan Lanning has taken over much of the defensive play calling from Tosh Lopoi. True or not, Lanning was as animated and vocal with his team last week as we have seen in his first season as a head coach. As always, the key matchup is OSU's very good offensive line against Oregon's solid, but not especially deep front seven.
The Beavers run the ball more often than any other Pac-12 team and then use play-action to create opportunities for Ben Gulbranson in the passing game. If freshman Damien Martinez can keep running downhill with purpose, the Beavers might be able to control both the scoreboard and the number of possessions the Ducks have. At Reser this season, OSU averages 34 minutes of possession.
Of course, it would hardly be a surprise if this game comes down to the team that wins the turnover battle. Oregon is plus-7 and Oregon State plus-2 in takeaways vs. turnovers through 11 games.
Scoring: Oregon 40.2 points a game (fourth nationally), Oregon State 31.9 (41st).
Scoring defense: Oregon State 20.27 (tied 27th), Oregon 26.45 (tied 68th with USC).
Rushing offense: Oregon 222.9 (12th nationally), Oregon State 192.9 (33rd).
Rushing defense: Oregon State 111.4 (19th nationally), Oregon 112.5 (22nd).
Passing offense: Oregon 288.3 (18th nationally), Oregon State 213.2 (94th).
Passing defense: Oregon State 219.3 (59th), Oregon 278.8 (122nd).
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