That was the big question going into Saturday’s Civil War matchup in Corvallis. After a devastating loss only a week earlier, how would they find the energy and motivation to beat a resurgent Oregon State team?
Turns out, the Beavers gave them all the motivation they would need.
In a chippy Civil War that, saw its fair share of skirmishes, the in-game animosity fueled an Oregon team that appeared off-focus and listless in the early part of the game.
How Oregon would respond this week appeared to be answered early on, as they went down the field like a hot knife through butter on their first possession, capped by a Marcus Mariota rushing touchdown. But Oregon State would show some resolve, at least for a half. On the next possession, Oregon saw a big run called back on a penalty, and the drive stalled following a Scott Crichton sack. That set up another scoring opportunity for the Ducks, but another miss by Alejandro Maldonado on a short field goal set off an explosion of applause from the black-and-orange faithful packed into the stands.
On the Beavers’ next possession, they were stopped short, but ran a fake punt on 4th down, just enough for a first down. The Beavers made some progress and found some success before a Taylor Hart strip sack on Sean Mannion forced another punt that the Beavers would not fake.
Marcus Mariota looked uncomfortable at times early on, struggling with accuracy, letting passes sail high, or leading receivers too far. When the Beavers scored on a Storm Woods seven yard run to make it 7-6, the fans in orange and black came alive, sensing an upset. Could the Beavers follow the much discussed “blueprint” for beating Oregon that Stanford was said to have shown?
The Ducks would go on two more scoring drives to make it 20-7, before Brian Jackson made a diving interception in the OSU 5. On the first play after the turnover, Kenjon Barner was stopped short and stayed down before being tended to by trainers. After a few minutes on the sideline, he was seen walking back to the locker room. The second half started without Barner, with carries split between Byron Marshall and De’Anthony Thomas, a preview of next season. Barner would later return.
Before the half, the Beavers gambled on a long fourth down, managing to get into position for a 36 yard field goal, which Trevor Romain converted to bring the Beavers within 10 points at the half.
On the opening drive of the second half OSU was bailed out on third and 11 with a pass interference penalty, and the Beavers were able to bring the score within three points at 20-17, following a Storm Woods two yard rushing TD.
Byron Marshall’s start was a welcome sight for OSU, after Barner had looked so dominant in the first half, and could have given the stats from the USC game a scare. The Beavers could not stop the outside zone read play, and the Ducks kept going to it, squeezing the air out of the stadium with each carry.
One of the game’s biggest plays came at a crucial time, when the Ducks were backed up on third and 19, but Mariota would find Josh Huff for 28 yards on a catch Huff was able to corral with one hand, further silencing the crowd. Several times on this drive, the pushing and shoving extended beyond the whistle as both teams were trying to assert themselves. The difference was that the Ducks were intent on doing their talking with the scoreboard, while the Beavers seemed intent on asserting themselves with cheap shots, pulling and twisting the legs of the Oregon ball carriers after the whistle blew. Regardless, De’Anthony Thomas shouldered the load on several tough carries, ending this drive with one of his three touchdowns.
The Ducks were able to recover two (and were close on a third) fumbles on special teams, and capitalized on one to take a 34-17 lead going into the fourth quarter. After three quarters, Oregon had 325 rushing yards and 441 total yards, compared to OSU’s 284 total yards.
Oregon’s defense stood tall all game, and between the turnovers they forced and the stops they made, the defense helped turn a close game into a blowout.
When Kenjon Barner scored his 2nd touchdown to start the fourth quarter, the fans in black & orange began to hit the exits. He finished with 198 rushing yards after being held to just 131 the previous two weeks combined.
On the Beavers’ next possession. Dion Jordan hit Sean Mannion as he threw, and his third interception of the game was secured by Kiko Alonso. Mannion then threw an interception to Erick Dargan, and with still over eight minutes remaining, the game was all but over.
Oregon handled their business 48-24, claiming their fifth straight Civil War victory and an 11-win regular season. With the loss to Stanford last week, Oregon needed help from other teams on Saturday to have a shot at the conference title and beyond.
Unfortunately, none of that help came. Notre Dame, Georgia, Florida, and Stanford all won yesterday. The likely destination for the Ducks is now the Fiesta Bowl, and if football scheduling karma has anything to do with it, Oregon and Kansas State will play in what would be a de facto make up game for the non-conference game fans missed out on.
- Oregon now leads the all-time series with the Beavers 60-46-10
- The Civil War is the seventh-most played FBS rivalry of all-time, and the oldest west of the Rockies.
- It was the fourth time both teams have been ranked for the Civil War game.
- It was Senior Day for Oregon State, despite next week’s game against Nicholls State still on their home schedule.
- Saturday’s game was a Reser Stadium record for attendance: 47,249
- Oregon won the time of possession (31:17 vs. 28:23) battle.
- The Ducks was 5 for 6 on fourth down.
- Kenjon Barner now has 1,624 rushing yards on the season, fourth best in school history.
- Barner also has 3,480 career rushing yards, second in school history only to close friend LaMichael James (5,082).