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No. 1 Oregon Vs. Oregon State: Will Beavers Even Put Up A Fight In This Civil War?

(Sports Network) Much more than bragging rights are on the line in this contest, as Chip Kelly's Ducks are sitting atop the top-25 and rank second in the BCS poll. With a win over the Beavers this weekend, the Ducks, who have already captured at least a share of their second straight Pac-10 title, will head to Glendale on January 10th to play for the national title. The Ducks took one more step towards a BCS national title with a 48-29 win over Arizona last weekend to move to 11-0 on the year.

The Beavers have more than playing spoiler on their minds, as Mike Riley's squad needs one more victory to reach bowl eligibility. The team has struggled of late to pick up wins, losing three of its last four, including a humbling 38-0 shutout at Stanford last weekend.

This longstanding rivalry began in 1894 and favors Oregon, which has a 57-46-10 advantage all-time. Last season saw the Ducks post a hard-fought 37-33 victory in Eugene, sending Oregon to the Rose Bowl.

Oregon has been in tough battles, only to turn it on at some point and run away with a victory. That certainly rang true against Arizona last week, as the Ducks took control of the game in the second half and rolled to their 11th victory over the season.

Kelly isn't overly concerned about being in close games early on.

"Trust me, it's not by design that we're down at halftime. These guys take a lot of pride in the tempo and pace that we practice and that we'll eventually wear people down. I think this team is winning because of eliminating distractions. These guys love playing football. And we're pretty good at flipping the switch."

One of the most explosive offenses in recent memory, Oregon ranks among the country's elite programs in scoring (first at 50.5 ppg), rushing (fifth at 300.0 ypg) and total offense (first at 541.7 ypg).

The arsenal in Eugene is vast, with the team getting superior play from both its quarterback and All-American tailback. Darron Thomas has flourished under center this season, completing 60.9 percent of his passes, for 2,373 yards with 26 touchdowns and just seven INTs. He has also added nearly 500 yards on the ground (496) and five more scores. Thomas' success passing the football has made wideout Jeff Maehl (61 receptions, 857 yards, 12 TDs) one of the Pac-10's most dangerous receiving threats.

Of course, everything is easier when defenses have to focus on stopping the run. Sophomore LaMichael James missed the season-opener, but has certainly made up for the lost time, rumbling for a whopping 1,548 yards and 19 TDs, ranking first in the nation at 154.8 yards per game.

The Oregon defense doesn't get the publicity that the offense gets, but the recipe for success on this side of the football is the same, with team- speed being the driving force. In all, this unit has recorded 31 takeaways and 28 sacks in the first 1l games.

Linebacker Casey Matthews has certainly had a hand in the success, leading the team with 68 tackles, with two sacks, three INTs and three fumble recoveries. Defensive backs John Boyett (62 tackles, four INTs) and Cliff Harris (27 tackle, five INTs) are ballhawks in the secondary, while defensive tackle Brandon Bair (41 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, 3.0 sacks) and defensive end Kenny Rowe (37 tackles, 12.0 TFLs, 6.0 sacks) create mayhem in opposing backfields.

Inconsistency on the offensive side of the football for Oregon State was definitely illustrated in its last two games, as the team put up 36 points in a rout of USC, only to follow that with a shutout loss at Stanford. On the season, the numbers have not exactly struck fear in the opposition. The team is averaging 24.3 ppg and doing so on a pedestrian 327.2 yards of total offense.

Sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz has completed 60 percent of his passes, for 2,177 yards and 16 TDs, but the loss of All-American candidate James Rodgers after just four games has certainly retarded his growth as a passer. Tailback Jacquizz Rodgers has clearly become the focal point of the offense now and has been used extensively. He has 234 carries in 11 games, rushing for 1,097 yards and 14 TDs. He also ranks second on the team in receptions, with 39 catches, for 267 yards and two more scores.

The Beavers have struggled both against the run and the pass this season and are currently giving up a generous 400 yards of offense per game. That certainly doesn't bode well with the nation's most explosive offense coming to town.

The pass rush has been there most of the season, with the team amassing 30 sacks, but the pressure has resulted in only 10 interceptions. Senior LB Dwight Roberson paces the unit with 84 tackles, with 7.5 TFLs, four sacks and one INT. Defensive linemen Gabe Miller (41 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 5.0 sacks) and Stephen Paea (42 tackles, 10.0 TFLs, 6.0 sacks) have done a nice job penetrating and making plays upfield. Safety Lance Mitchell (64 tackles, two INTs, one fumble recovery) and cornerback James Dockery (49 tackles, four INTs) are playmakers in the secondary.

This is usually a battle to the finish, with both teams taking it to another level. However, this season, it is Oregon which plays in a different stratosphere. The team will likely score early and often against the Beavers, who like most Oregon opponents, will be unable to keep pace.