Two weeks ago OSU pulled off a huge upset against then sixth-ranked ASU. Then the Beavers quickly turned around and lost to a Washington team that Oregon easily handled in October. So which Beaver team will we see take the field on Saturday night? The Ducks would be thankful to see the same team that went down to Washington, but are fully expecting an upset effort lead by Sean Mannion and Dylan Wynn.
Since his first season in 2011 Mannion has put up huge numbers, becoming the all-time Pac-12 leader with 13,438 passing yards. The Oregon defense is expecting a big performance from Mannion on his senior night and is well aware of what he is capable of. Last year’s Civil War saw Mannion throw for 314 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per pass and two touchdowns.
Andrew Grief of The Oregonian broke down some of the problems Oregon may have against this record-setting quarterback. Mannion is helped by his receivers, sophomore Victor Bolden (785 yards, two touchdowns) and freshman Jordan Villamin (572 yards, six touchdowns). Grief points to Oregon State’s battered offensive line and new receivers as the reason Mannion hasn’t excelled this year. Mannion has only thrown 14 touchdowns this season, down from 37 a year ago. While neither receiver has been able to produce the same way Brandin Cooks did last yea,r head coach Mark Helfrich recognizes the talent. “[They are] developing a little too fast for our liking,” he said.
While Oregon State’s offense has battled against injuries all year, their defense has been held strong by senior end-rusher Dylan Wynn. Wynn has been a force for the limping Beavers, coming up with four-and-a-half sacks and an interception this season. For Oregon, a makeshift offensive line consisting of Hamani Stevens playing center and Doug Brenner at left guard will give Wynn holes to look for. If Oregon is planning on taking down OSU for the eighth consecutive year, it will have to keep both an eye and a man on Wynn the whole game.
There is no doubt that Oregon is the better team this season; there is also no doubt that the Beavers would love to win this game for their seniors, clinch a bowl game and end Oregon’s national title hopes. The Ducks will do their best to put the game to bed early, but the Beavers are planning to run down to the wire and force the Ducks to make plays at the end of the game. Season records aside, this may be the most important and most exciting game the Ducks have played this year.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck