It's finally here, Civil War Week, and after losing their first game of the season Oregon (10-1, 7-1) enters Reser Stadium in a must win game to keep their National Championship hopes alive. Conversely, Oregon State (8-2, 6-2) needs a win to remain in the hunt for an at-large BCS bid. There is lots on the line in the 116th version of the oldest rivalry in the West.
Here's who BeaverBlitz feels holds the positional advantages heading into Saturday's exciting match up.:
OREGON STATE BEAVERS
The Ducks lost safety John Boyett and corner Avery Patterson to injury, both emotional leaders who were tremendous playmakers. Oregon still ranks 4th in the conference in pass defense (228.91/ypg) and has allowed 17 scores through the air. Most impressive is Oregon's play making ability, even without the aforementioned losses. Oregon has 20 interceptions on the season, 2nd to only Kent St (21) and Oregon has returned four for scores. Corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is dangerous and reads the QB's eyes very well leading the team with 15 pass break ups and recording 3 INT's. Ekpre-Olomu has also forced six fumbles. From the safety position, Brian Jackson plays the entire field and leads the unit with 56 tackles. Jackson plays fast and downhill and has recorded a stat in every defensive category.
Sean Mannion returned as the starter last week and lit up the Cal secondary for 325 yards and four scores. OSU ranks 22nd nationally with 303.4 yards through the air per game. The stat that jumps off the page is the 13.02 yards per completion clearly signifying OSU's big play/down field potential. Out wide, Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks both enter the game healthy and ready to go after both suffered concussions in separate weeks this season. Cooks and Wheaton are 10th and 14th nationally in yards per game, averaging 202.5 yards per game. At season's end OSU will have two 1,000 yard receivers (Wheaon needs 14 more yards). At tight end, Connor Hamlett has proven to be reliable and is a match-up nightmare for safeties or linebackers at 6-7 260.
This group of linebackers is physical like Stanford and athletic like Arizona State. Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay have made life difficult for ball carriers combining for 150 tackles, 19 behind the line of scrimmage. They are aggressive and play at full speed at all times, which can sometimes be to their detriment. Teams have allowed the Ducks 2nd level to over pursue and have had