The Oregon Ducks (9-2 SU, 8-3 ATS) will be looking to punch their ticket to the Pac-12 championship game for the fourth straight year when they renew their century-old rivalry with the Oregon State Beavers (8-3, 9-2) on Saturday in Week 13 college football action.
The Ducks vaulted to No. 10 in the AP Top 25 with last weekend’s 20-17 win over Utah, which also marked their ninth victory in 10 outings. The Beavers returned home after rolling to a 31-7 win over Arizona State and have gone undefeated against the spread while compiling a 4-1 record on home turf.
Oregon vs Oregon State Opening Odds
The Ducks have faded to 3-point favorites since opening at -4, while the total has held steady since opening at 58. Saturday afternoon’s matchup extends an epic rivalry between these teams that dates back to the 19th century, and which has featured head-to-head clashes every year since 1945.
The Ducks have largely dominated in recent dates, winning outright in 12 of the past 14 meetings. However, the Beavers have claimed upset victories in two of their past three home dates with the Ducks and have also earned ATS wins in five of nine head-to-head meetings.
Despite the Beavers’ success at the sportsbooks, results have typically been one-sided when these teams meet, with nine of the past 12 getting decided by double-digit margins. The OVER has paid out in each of their past two matchups to improve to 4-4 over the past eight games and 15-5 over the past 20.
Ducks’ Hopes Hinge on Nix
Since opening their schedule on a steady 8-1 run that featured six straight impressive victories in conference play, the Ducks have struggled to maintain that momentum. Oregon squandered a fourth-quarter lead on their way to a 37-34 loss to Washington two weeks ago and was lucky to escape with a narrow 17-14 win over the Utes last week, in a contest they led by 14 points at the half.
Despite their struggle to maintain a lead, the Ducks – and particularly Bo Nix – showed plenty of grit in last week’s victory. The Ducks quarterback elected to play despite being hobbled by an ankle injury, and in addition to leading the squad on a pair of lengthy scoring drives before the half, he also guided them on a 52-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that ended with a game-winning field goal.
Overall, Nix has connected on 13 scoring passes over the past five games, but his availability for Saturday’s contest is far from certain. With so much on the line, it would likely take a major setback for Nix not to suit up this weekend. That would open the door for freshman Ty Thompson to start and add to the pressure on both the Ducks defense and rusher Bucky Irving, who has run for over 100 yards in three of his past five outings.
Beavers Defense Standing Tall
The Beavers continued to impress in conference play with last week’s victory over Arizona State. With the defense slamming the door on the Sun Devils, the Oregon State attack found a higher gear after recess, scoring on three of their first four possessions to seal a decisive 31-7 win.
Overall, the Beavers defense limited the Sun Devils to just 276 yards and has now surrendered fewer than 300 yards in three of its past four outings. That stinginess has been reflected on the scoreboard, with the squad allowing just 12 points per game during their 4-1 run, and an average of just nine points over their four recent victories.
Injuries remain a concern for this squad. Running back Deshaun Fenwick has been sidelined since running for two touchdowns in the team’s 24-21 loss to Washington three weeks ago and remains listed as questionable for Saturday. Chance Nolan has reportedly made progress in getting over a neck injury that has sidelined the junior pivot since early October. However, head coach Jonathan Smith has reportedly decided to stick with Ben Gulbranson under center after the freshman threw for three TDs and ran for two scores over the past two weeks.
Oregon: Keys to Win
The Ducks’ hopes will largely hinge on the health and fitness of quarterback Bo Nix. A legitimate dual threat who has run for 14 touchdowns and thrown for 25, Nix provides the spark for a Ducks offense that ranks fourth in the nation with 40.2 points scored per game. If he is unavailable, the Ducks defense must find a way to match the Beavers’ stinginess, particularly against an Oregon State ground game that has produced 10 scoring runs over the past four games.
Oregon State: Keys to Win
Regardless of who is under center for Oregon, the Beavers will need another big defensive performance if they are to dash the championship game hopes of their archrivals. That means maintaining constant pressure on Nix, who will likely have limited mobility, and once again slamming the door early on the Ducks attack while extending to seven their streak of games without a first-quarter point allowed.