Civil War Preview and Week 14 Picks
Many people are already chalking this game up as a win for Oregon. When I was on a Maryland sports radio show earlier in the week we discussed the upcoming matchups between Oregon-Oregon State and Auburn-South Carolina, as well as the impending national championship game matchup.
The hosts showed a lot more confidence in the Oregon matchup than I did. Sure, the spread is up to 17 in some sports books and most scouting services are giving Oregon a huge advantage, predicting wins in the neighborhood of 18 points. Do the Beavers even have a shot in this game?
The short answer is, yes.
Now hold on, the chance is remote, but even Lloyd had a chance with Mary in Dumb and Dumber.
When Oregon Has the Ball
Last year Oregon State used a very vanilla defense to try and stop Oregon’s offense. The passing attack is much better this year with Darron Thomas at quarterback so Oregon State will have a much more balanced offer to worry about.
Cal used a lot of man coverage on defense with a safety spying the quarterback. I’m glad people thought that this was a blueprint to beat Oregon and completely disregard that Oregon’s offense played horrible. Why am I happy about this? Because it doesn’t work well when the offense is doing just a good job of executing. Arizona tried to run a little of the same defense and got burned for over 40 points. I think the Oregon State coordinator is smarter than that though and will mix man and zone well, but in a very basic form. As usual, the Beavers will try to bring their lunch pail attitude to stopping Oregon, relying on fundamental tackling and discipline.
The one thing that Oregon State can do well that Cal did was penetrate the offensive
line and disrupt the backfield. Beaver defensive tackle Stephen Paea, 6’1” 311 pounds, is a force to be reckoned with. Last year he had very little trouble getting through double-teams and blowing offensive linemen off the ball. This would pose a serious threat to the running game if LaMichael James and Darron Thomas can’t get clean handoffs.
There is a simple way for Oregon to counter this. First, they can read Stephen Paea. Typically, Oregon will read the defensive tackle by the goal line, so that if the defensive tackle chases the running back there is a lot of room for the quarterback to pull the ball and run. If the defensive tackle plays the quarterback the running back will go down the line and find a hole, either way, the defensive tackle is out of position.
Secondly, Oregon can use more outside running plays that feature pulling offensive linemen in to space. If you watch the second half of the Arizona game there were a lot of these plays to counter Arizona putting a lot of defenders in the box to stop inside zone read plays.
If Oregon State shows that they are running man to man with no safety deep, like Cal did, then expect Oregon to run a lot of play action passes. Also, the use of the triple option by motioning LaMichael James in to the backfield with Josh Huff will be seen, but just differently enough to where Oregon State can’t prep for it perfectly.
When Oregon State Has the Ball
The biggest thing that Oregon State is going to have to do is be successful on first and second down. If Oregon State can routinely get third downs where they only need to go two or three yards then they have a much better chance of sustaining drives. I know this is really obvious to people that if you have to go for fewer yards on third down it’s easier to convert. When Oregon State gets in third and longer than five the offensive line and Ryan Katz are almost unable to execute in any way, shape, or form. As soon as Katz drops back he starts hurrying and escaping the pocket when he doesn’t have to and makes really poor choices.
The offensive line also needs to run block much better. Jacquizz Rodgers is a fantastic running back and perfect for the Beaver offense, but the line hasn’t been able to open any holes for him, forcing more pressure on Katz and the passing game.
The other player to look out for the scares the living daylights out of me is Marcus Wheaton. Yes, he is the nephew of Oregon’s famed Kenny Wheaton. Marcus is a big play receiver who has filled in really well for James Rodgers who went down with an ACL tear against Arizona. He catches deep balls and is dangerous when he gets to the edge on fly sweep plays.
Oregon obviously needs to put pressure on Katz before the snap by giving him confusing looks. Maybe overload one side of the ball and then blitz hard from the other, or show a lot of blitz and then go to a zone blitz. Just keep Katz guessing. As I said earlier, Oregon should come at Katz hard on third and longer than five. Oregon though doesn’t need to change a lot of what they’re doing because Oregon State has only showed they can be effective on offense twice, against USC and Arizona.
If Oregon State can keep moving the chains, keeping the Oregon offense off the field, then Oregon State has a better shot at winning. The fact that the game is at Reser Stadium does play a part and with rivalries you have to throw the stats away because both teams will give their best shot this whole season. However, this game will get ugly once Oregon State goes 3 and out a few times or Katz throws an interception.
Oregon 56, Oregon State 28
National Picks Record ATS All Year: 90-69
National Picks Record ATS Last Week: 6-7
Arizona State at Arizona (-5)
Pittsburgh (+2) at Cincinnati
Auburn (-6) against South Carolina
Florida State (+4) against Virginia Tech
USC (-6) at UCLA
Connecticut at South Florida (-1.5)
Nebraska at Oklahoma (-3.5)
PAC-10 Picks SU All Year: 56-16
PAC-10 Picks SU Last Week: 4-1
Arizona beats Arizona State
Oregon beats Oregon State
Washington beats Washington State
USC beats UCLA
Texans at Eagles (-8.5)
Bills at Vikings (-6)
Browns (+4.5) at Dolphins
Broncos at Chiefs (-9)
Redskins at Giants (-7)
Jaguars (+3) at Titans
Bears (-3.5) at Lions
49ers (+10) at Packers
Saints (-7) at Bengals
Raiders (+13) at Chargers
Falcons at Buccaneers (+3)
Panthers at Seahawks (-6)
Cowboys at Colts (-5.5)
Rams (-3) at Cardinals
Steelers (+4) at Ravens
Jets at Patriots (-3.5)