Nicknamed the “Civil War”, Oregon and Oregon State sit less than 50 miles apart. The Ducks have won 10 of the last 11 meetings, but this is the best Beavers squad in more than five years.
Oregon State (5-6, 4-4 Pac-12) needs one win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013. The Beavers beat Arizona State, 35-34, two weeks ago but fell last week, 54-53, to Washington State.
Offensively, Oregon State is vastly improved from a year ago. Senior quarterback Jake Luton has played himself into being an NFL prospect. Luton has the size (6’7”, 229 lbs.) NFL teams covet, but this year he is proving he has the skills. Luton has nearly 2,800 passing yards this season with 28 touchdown passes to just three interceptions. The running back duo of senior Artavis Pierce and sophomore Jermar Jefferson have combined for 1,452 yards and 13 touchdowns. Junior receiver Isaiah Hodgins has been one of the best pass-catchers in the Pac-12 this season as he leads the conference with 13 touchdown catches, ranks second with 7 receptions per game and third 1,086 receiving yards.
The Beavers defense has been up-and-down all year. Oregon State ranks No. 108 in scoring defense and No. 110 in total defense, but is also the No. 1 in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss and is among the league leaders in sacks. Junior linebacker/defensive end Hamilcar Rashed Jr. is a big reason for those numbers as he leads the country with 22.5 tackles for loss and is second nationally with 14 sacks, both of which are Oregon State single-season records. Rashed has multiple sacks in five games this season and multiple tackles for loss in six.
Oregon (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) had already captured the Pac-12 North title, but the Ducks had College Football Playoff aspirations until a loss at Arizona State, 31-28, last weekend.
On offense, Oregon is the best all-around offense in the Pac-12. The Ducks are the No. 3 passing offense and No. 2 rushing offense in the conference. Senior quarterback Justin Herbert will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in Ducks history. Herbert has thrown for 2,966 yards this season and 30 touchdowns and has a plethora of receivers to throw to. Junior Johnny Johnson III leads the team with 45 catches, while junior Jaylon Redd is right behind him with 42 catches and leads the team with seven touchdown catches. Senior transfer Juwan Johnson has come on late and become a big-play receiver for the Ducks. In the running game, sophomore C.J. Verdell has emerged as the lead back and has a chance to surpass 1,000 yards on the season with 87 yards against Oregon State.
Despite how good the Ducks offense has been in 2019, their defense may be better. Oregon is ranked first or second in the Pac-12 in the following defensive categories: total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, passing efficiency defense, interceptions, sacks, tackles for loss, and turnovers gained. The Ducks lead the nation with 17 passes intercepted this season and have had 11 different players pick off a pass in 2019. Sophomore cornerback Jevon Holland and freshman safety Verone McKinley III each have four interceptions this season. Senior linebacker Troy Dye is the undisputed leader of the defense and has led the team in tackles in each of the last three seasons.
The biggest question in this game is how Oregon will respond to the loss at Arizona State. The Beavers have the talent to put up a lot of points, even against a stingy Ducks defense. This one could be a barn-burner.