Remember all those columns after the Ducks lost to Michigan State early in the season and people started to talk about how the Oregon’s offense was a shadow of its former self? Remember when those articles happened again after Utah absolutely decimated Oregon on their home turf? How about when Oregon lost to Washington State for the first time since 2006? Since that last loss to the Cougars, the Ducks have rattled off five straight, a streak that includes a win over once playoff favorite Stanford and thumpings of both Cal and USC. The Ducks are finally rolling despite early season issues, and with Stanford playing against a tough (but still quite beatable) Notre Dame team, the Ducks could see yet another trip to the Pac-12 title game with a win and a Stanford loss. But, because Oregon can only control one of those things, let’s take a look at their matchup Saturday with the Beavers.
Oregon State Is Just Terrible
If we’re being honest, the Beavers have never really been standout contenders save for maybe once at some point in the Mike Riley era. But with new coach Gary Anderson trying to break in a team that’s never really been used to winning much, the Beavers have had a predictably bad year. They rank 117th in total offense, 115th in total defense, and 101 in S&P+. None of those numbers are remotely good, but there’s a very sneaky positive thing to take away from Oregon State’s season: the Beavers are a young team. Freshman quarterback Seth Collins hasn’t thrown for many scores at this point (he only has 6 scores to 4 interceptions), however he also leads the team in rushing yards and attempts as well. Having a dynamic quarterback in the Pac-12 is practically a necessity, evidenced by teams like Oregon and UCLA showing a lot of success recently with players like Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley. Couple this with freshman running back Ryan Nall who’s seen a share of carries behind senior Storm Barrs-Woods and leading receivers Victor Bolden and Jordan Villamin being a junior and sophomore, respectively, and you’ve got key pieces to a unit that could be pretty dangerous in 2016. This, of course, means nothing for Saturday, however with their season over regardless of a win or loss, it’s important to start thinking about those things.
Despite A Decent 2015 Outlook, The Ducks Can Prep For 2016 As Well
So here’s the thing: this game likely won’t be very competitive at all. Vernon Adams Jr. has been on a tear in the last few weeks, and I don’t see the Beavers being able to shut down on Oregon offense that might not be as good as a year ago (a game that Oregon won 47-19). So then, the opportunity for the Ducks is to get some younger guys reps to prepare for 2016. Sure a Pac-12 title is possible with some help from Notre Dame, but that isn’t something Oregon can rely on. So then, while the Ducks have to make sure they take care of business on Saturday, they can also focus on getting Royce Freeman and Taj Griffin as many touches as possible, to develop a strong one-two punch for next season. It might also be wise to get junior backup quarterback Jeff Lockie some time if things get out of hand early, because while the Ducks could just as easily bring in a new star under center, that’s not always a lock even for a program like Oregon, and getting Lockie reps could put them in a much better position for more success in 2016.
All Signs Point To The Ducks
Yeah, there just isn’t a win for the Oregon State in the cards this year. Maybe the Beavers can slow down Oregon’s offense slightly, but even then they’d have to still outscore them, something I’m not sure this year’s team is capable of doing. There likely won’t be much excitement in this one outside of, “Wow, look at this play Oregon just made” but hey, the Pac-12 gets weird sometimes, so maybe the Beavers will shock everybody.