Oregon came into the Civil War wanting to run the ball, and wanting to shut down the Oregon State rushing game. Just like everyone has all season. Yet the Beavers weren’t able to do anything about it, and as a result, the Ducks became the latest in a long list of teams to have multiple backs have career days against them, as they rolled to a 55-15 win, which wasn’t as close as the score indicated, due to an Oregon State score with 16 seconds left. It was Oregon’s 10th win in the last 11 Civil Wars.
As usual, the Oregon State defense did not come out prepared to play, and Oregon built a 21-0 lead, on 3 touchdowns by C.J. Verdell, below.
This despite playing the first quarter without star WR Dillon Mitchell, who was benched by Oregon coach Mario Cristobal for being late to a meeting. Mitchell, arguably the most dangerous receiver in the conference, would finish with just 1 catch for 9 yards. Due in part to Oregon almost totally eschewing the air game after the break. More on that to come.
Jack Colletto’s attempt at a jump pass being picked off by Oregon’s Nick Pickett in the end zone didn’t help Oregon State’s cause either.
As usual, the Oregon State defense got steam-rolled on the first drive of the second half. This time was worse than usual though, as Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert suffered a right shoulder injury late in the first half, and Duck third stringer Braxton Burmeister handed off every play of the third quarter opening drive, and Oregon drove 85 yards in 5 1/2 minutes on 11 consecutive carries, capped by Travis Dye’s 15 yard run to open the lead to 28-3.
Burmeister would only throw the ball twice in the second half, and complete just one, yet the Ducks still rolled up 251 yards. And they out-scored the Beavers 34-12 after the break.
It helped that, by linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray’s own admission, Oregon State made no adjustment for the obviously game changing development.
Hughes-Murray said postgame that the coaches told the players that Herbert “was out, but they didn’t change anything. We came and stuck to the game plan that we had at the beginning of the game.“
The Oregon offense fell just 14 yards shy of getting both Verdell and Dye to the 200 yard rushing mark, with Dye, above, finishing with 199 yards and 2 touchdowns on 33 carries, and Verdell running for 187 yards and 4 touchdowns on 23 carries. Both were over 200 yards in total offense though, as Dye had a 4 yard catch, and Verdell an undefended 21 yard touchdown catch from Herbert for the game’s first score, below.
This despite running back Tony Brooks-James leaving on crutches in the first half.
Oregon State, by contrast, had their worst rushing game of the season. Jemar Jefferson was held to only 64 yards on 21 carries, and the Beavers netted only 54 total yards on the ground, thanks to a pair of sacks and a disastrous trick play in which Champ Flemings’ errant lateral resulted in a 26 yard loss on top of the turnover.
This despite Oregon playing without defensive lineman Jalen Jelks, arguably the Ducks’ best defensive player.
The Duck domination obscured the few Beaver bright spots, which included Isaiah Hodgins, above, hauling in a game high 8 catches for a game high 133 yards, and Timmy Hernandez grabbing 6 balls for 87 yards, and both of Oregon State’s touchdowns, as Luton, below, therw for 282 yards.
After Oregon’s second half opening scoring march, Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton answered with 3 consecutive completions, two to Trevon Bradford, for 16 and 41 yards, and then to Hernandez for 22 yards, and an over the shoulder, trailing toe tap touchdown that cut the deficit to 28-9.
But Jordan Choukair, who also missed a field goal, sliced the extra point wide.
Oregon State wouldn’t score again until Luton found fellow senior Hernandez one last time, for another corner of the end zone touchdown, this one from 31 yards out, with just 16 seconds left.
In the meantime, there was the fumble, a pick-6 by Thomas Graham Jr., and three more Oregon rushing touchdowns.
At least fewer people showed up to get soaked watching it than for any Civil War since Reser was expanded, and there were fewer than 39,766 to sell/give away. For Oregon State, it was Black Friday in more ways than one.
Oregon wrapped up the regular season 8-4, and 5-4 in the Pac-12, and will await a bowl bid.
Oregon State stumbled to the end of the season that ended 2-10, and 1-8 in conference, both marks just 1 better than last year. Oregon State has lost 45 of their last 55 games. It’s the 5th losing season in a row, and 7th in the last 9 for the Beavers, and there’s been nothing that’s happened in the final 3 games of the season that suggests next year will even be able to come close to ending the collapse.
Despite losing 4 of the 6 offensive linemen who have played any meaningful minutes all season, as well as Hernandez, whom the Beavers have no comparable replacement for, and possibly Luton, if an appeal for a 6th season isn’t successful, the offense, which showed signs of progress, at least until opponents figured out they needed to key on shutting down Jefferson, still appears to be on an upward trajectory for next year.
But the defense, which was the worst in program history last year, regressed even further, and will finish the season as statistically the worst in FBS overall. Even given it was hamstrung by a half decade of total failure in recruiting, its hard to envision a reasonable case for Coach Jonathan Smith retaining Defensive Coordinator Tim Tibesar. Under no circumstances should a Power-5 program ever be the worst in the country defensively.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)