Saturday’s contest with the Beavers will have plenty in store for fans and players alike. The Ducks have prevailed over Oregon State the previous six seasons. The Beavers would be thankful to break that trend on their senior day in Corvallis. With UCLA closing in on a playoff spot, an Oregon win would help to keep post season hopes alive.
The Beavers boast a strong passing game behind senior Sean Mannion who has thrown for 3,002 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Oregon’s secondary will be in for a challenge, ensuring Mannion does not have the chance to put the Beavers in the driver’s seat.
While the Ducks have struggled against the pass this season, allowing 276.8 yards per game, they have improved all year. Last weekend they held Colorado to 105 passing yards and star wide receiver Nelson Spruce to only two catches for 16 yards. The Ducks will need a repeat performance in order to take away Oregon State’s best chance to win.
It is difficult to tell who has more on the line this weekend. The Ducks have won the Pac-12 North and anxiously await their match-up with the South’s winner on December 5 in the conference title game. The Beavers are a win away from bowl eligibility and would love to be the team to knock Oregon out of the playoff picture.
Ideally the Ducks will jump on the Beavers’ 91st-ranked defense and establish a lead early. Given the battered condition of the roster, Oregon wants to put points on the board fast enough that the backups will get some playing time, giving the starters a chance to rest. This high octane offense hasn’t had trouble putting up points this season or doing it quickly with 51 plays for 25 or more yards and Marcus Mariota‘s NCAA leading 185.19 passing efficiency.
Mariota will solidify his Heisman chances with a big game against Oregon State to cap a career year. The redshirt junior has been outstanding all season, completing 68% of his passes the eighth highest percentage in the country. He has been responsible for a massive 252 points between his 32 passing, nine rushing and one receiving touchdowns.
The Ducks have this final hurdle as a warm up for the Pac-12 title game in Santa Clara. A chance to extend the winning streak against the Beavers as well as spoil their seniors’ last day will be plenty of motivation for Oregon this weekend.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline