Why Oregon State will beat Oregon

Oregon running back Kenjon Barner (24) stiff-arms Oregon State safety Anthony Watkins (3) in the 116th Civil War. Barner finished with 64 total rushing yards and one touchdown. (Nate Barrett/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Oregon running back Kenjon Barner (24) stiff-arms Oregon State safety Anthony Watkins (3) in the 116th Civil War. Barner finished with 64 total rushing yards and one touchdown. (Nate Barrett/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Posted by Matt Walks on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 2:15 pm.

**Editor’s Note: Each week during football season we will feature an essay from the opponent’s student newspaper on how Oregon will lose. This week’s edition is from  Warner Strausbaugh, the sports editor at Oregon State’s The Daily Barometer.**

If Saturday showed us anything, it’s that no team is unbeatable.

When Matt Walks asked me to write a “Why Oregon will lose” column, I’ll admit, I thought I might have to muster some unfelt enthusiasm to do it. Because on Friday, I thought Oregon State’s chances of beating the Ducks were slim.

I thought I’d write it about how the Beavers are due for a win, or because the OSU players want a Civil War victory more than the Ducks do or maybe just because it’s at Reser Stadium.

But now I’m writing this because the possibility of Oregon State winning this game has become all too realistic.

Oregon is the better team. And if they played this game 100 times, the Ducks would probably win 80 times.

Stanford, however, showed that as long as you can exploit a team’s weaknesses, there’s never an invincible team.

Everything seems to be lining up for the Beavers.

They’re undefeated at home.

Stanford’s defense gave them a perfect blueprint for how to stop Oregon’s offense: disguise the defensive front. Stack the box, but bring guys out into coverage. Use a strong defensive line to penetrate into the backfield.

These are all things — coincidentally — that OSU has been doing all season.

Defensive ends Scott Crichton (14th in the nation in sacks, 15th in tackles for loss) and Dylan Wynn have the power and speed to contain the running game around the edges.

The Beavers have also gone to a dime formation on defense for the first season, which has been extremely effective. Jordan Poyer moves from the outside to slot coverage in the package, which should only help the Beavers because Poyer is the best open-field tackler in the secondary.

On the offensive side, the Beavers finally put together a Ducks-esque performance on Saturday. Sure, it was Cal. And they definitely did not want to be playing that game. But 62 points still speaks volumes.

Sean Mannion returned at quarterback and had a great first game back. The running game now has two legitimate every-down backs with Storm Woods and Terron Ward, who’s had two 140-plus yard games in the past three games.

With Oregon’s defensive line and secondary banged up, the offense should be able to move the ball well as long as they don’t commit imprudent turnovers.

Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks have given Marqise Lee and Robert Woods at USC a real fight for the title of best receiver tandem in the conference and maybe even the nation.

Lastly, the biggest key in college football is confidence. Every week this season I would’ve said the Ducks are more confident than the Beavers. But coming off an upset against Stanford at Autzen, which eliminated Oregon having control over a national championship berth, the Ducks have lost their usual confidence.

OSU, on the other hand, has put together the “complete game” they’ve been aspiring to all year.

Everything is in place for an upset at Reser Stadium this Saturday. People are beginning to believe that OSU can win this game.

I’m one of them now.