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Oregon State vs Oregon
2009 PAC 10 Football Title on the Line
Last year it was Oregon State who was surprising people in the Pac 10 with a
chance to clinch a spot in the Rose Bowl and a Pac 10 Title in the last game of
the season. Even with all that on the line Oregon State was unable to put up a
fight against their instate rival Oregon and the Ducks smashed the Beavers
65-38. This year it is Oregon who is in the driver's seat for a Pac 10 title and
Rose Bowl berth, but the difference this year is both Oregon and Oregon State
will clinch a Pac 10 title with a victory.
The Pac 10 might not have a conference championship game at the end of the year like the SEC or Big 12 do, but with the way this year shaped out that is exactly what we have this Thursday. Coming into the season it looked like USC was once again the front runner for another Pac 10 title, and if USC couldnt get the job done it looked like it would be California who would take over this year in the Pac 10, but both the Trojans and Bears have struggled for most of the year which opened things up for the Oregon Ducks.
Oregon opened the season up with turmoil when after their loss to Boise State their starting RB. LeGarrette Blount punched a Boise State player, and then had to be restrained from going into the crowd and fighting with fans. Hardly the way a Pac 10 contender would like to start their year, but you have to give credit to Coach Chip Kelly for getting his team to put that behind them and continue towards their goal for a Pac 10 title.
After that loss Oregon went on a 7-0 run including wins over Utah, Cal, and USC before losing to a rising Stanford team. They are one game away from accomplishing their goal, but in their way is their in state rival Oregon State who has a very good team once again this year.
Much like the Oregon State teams in the last few years this team got out to their usual slow start opening the season 2-2 with losses to Cincinnati and Arizona, but since then the Beavers are 6-1 with their lone loss being USC. Coach Mike Riley has really turned this program around and a berth in the Rose Bowl would really build up momentum for the future.
This Oregon rushing attack led by QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LaMichael James has really been putting up some impressive numbers this season. Oregon averages 231 yards per game on the ground, and the majority of those yards is coming from RB LaMichael James. When RB LeGarrette Blount was suspended indefinetely after his actions following the Boise State game there were real questions about how effective this Oregon rushing attack would be without him, but the Ducks have not missed a beat with James. He has rushed for over 1300 yards this season and has racked up 11 TD's, but the most important thing he does is open up things for Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli.
When James gets things going on the ground it really allows Masoli to be effective through the air, so if Oregon State is going to have a chance in this ballgame they have to commit to stopping the run. The Beavers are ranked 1st in the Pac 10 in rush defense allowing just 99 yards per game on the ground. Against their toughest competition this year this defense only gave up 39 yards on the ground against Cal and only let Stanford RB Toby Gerhart get loose for 96 yards which is much better then most teams have done against Gerhart. Oregon State really needs to have one of their better defensive performances of the year, because if they do not this Oregon offense is capable of putting up points in a hurry.
THE FINAL VERDICT
This game is going to come down to how well both defense can do against the opposive offenses strengths. With Oregon State they have got to be able to slow down the Ducks rushing attack or they will have problems outscoring Oregon's high powered offense, and with Oregon's defense they have got to slow down the Oregon State passing attack. Oregon State QB has been having a great season throwing for nearly 2800 yards and 19 TD's. The Beaver passing game is 1st in the Pac 10 in pass offense averaging 273 yards per game. Oregon's secondary is going to have their hands full Thursday night with that passing attack, but they are ranked 2nd in the Pac 10 in pass defense allowing just 193 yards through the air a game, so this will be a very interesting matchup.
This series has seen both close games and blowouts over the last decade. Oregon is the better team but likely not 10 points better and in rivalry games like this, expect the unexpected. Th enumbers we rely on suggest a closer game than the current spread indicates so we'll take Oregon State +9.5 or even +10 by game time as a solid opinion. Oregon State +9.5