The 123rd Civil War is upon us! And the winner is...............
Try to predict the winner of one of the nation's longest running rivalries is a fool's errand. It's the old cliche: Throw out all the records when rivals play. I guess it's appropriate, but to be clear, the Beavers have struggled in recent years, winning just once since 2007. You remember-- James Rodgers made the fly sweep part of Oregon State history giving the Beavers a 38-31 win in double overtime in Eugene.
Let's dive into the 2019 edition of this intrastate affair and see which team has more to play for:
Oregon's hopes for a spot in the College Football playoffs is now history. The debacle in the desert took care of that. What they do have is a good shot at the Rose Bowl. From a record's perspective, it doesn't really matter if they beat Oregon State this weekend because they have already booked a ticket to Santa Clara and a meeting with either Utah or USC in the Pac-12 title game on Friday, December 6th. If they win that game, it's off to Pasadena. Now, if they lose the title game, the Alamo Bowl would be their most likely destination. If Oregon ends up in San Antonio, it'd be fair for Duck fans to say it was a disappointing season. Knocking on the door of a CFB semifinal berth to the Alamo Bowl is a significant drop-off.
The Beavers are on a quest for bowl eligibility at Autzen Stadium on Saturday. Sitting at 5-7 this season, it will be the second straight Saturday they have a chance to achieve that in just the second year of the Jonathan Smith era.
The Beavers just want to get back to a bowl game. Their 4-4 conference record bodes well for a pretty decent bowl game. A win over Oregon would give them a 5-4 conference record. The current situation points to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas as the most likely destination on December 31st.
Both Jonathan Smith and Mario Cristobal are in the second year of coaching their respective teams. Last year in Corvallis, the Beavers were no match for the Ducks, losing 55-15. This year, Vegas oddsmakers have Oregon as a 19.5 point favorite at home.
Jonathan Smith says preparation, and not wild emotion, will be the most important factor on Saturday afternoon. And he is not the kind of coach to say outlandish things that can become bulletin board material in the locker room.
Smith says he has a ton of respect for Oregon:
Coach Cristobal has done a great job. Got some bigtime players, which it starts with the quarterback. One of the guys in this league I've got the most respect for." He added, " They can run the ball but they've got an elite quarterback. Defensively, great at taking the ball away.
Coach Cristobal knows the emotion of the Civil War will make Autzen Stadium an intense place Saturday:
Oregon State is a really good football team with a lot to play for. We have a really good football team with a lot to play for. And that's how rivalry games should be. It'll be extremely intense. It'll be extremely physical, and I don't think either side would want it any other way."
For the Beavers it might come down to their defense. Is Hamilcar Rashed, Jr. ready for the challenge? He does lead the nation with 22.5 tackles for loss and is second with 14 sacks. But, last weekend in Pullman he was unable to really play the way he normally does because of an injured wrist.
It should be an emotional game nonetheless and I know the state of Oregon can't wait for this game to kickoff.