Cory Mccartney
Thursday November 27th, 2008

Sure, the Bedlam game looms large, what with the national title implications, but Oklahoma-Oklahoma State won't be instantly deciding any BCS berths. That's why we're focusing on the 112th Civil War, which could decide the Pac-10 champion and more.

1. The Rose Bowl, and more, may be decided in Corvallis. What happens in the Civil War could decide the bowl paths for Oregon State, USC and Ohio State. The Beavers haven't played in The Granddaddy of Them All since 1965, but that would all change with a win over the Ducks. A win in the Civil War would give the Beavers the Pac-10 crown and a spot opposite Penn State (which beat Oregon State 45-14 in September) in the Rose Bowl, barring a number of upsets that would land the Nittany Lions in the title game. But in the current landscape, a Beavers win would also mean that the Trojans, if they beat Notre Dame, are headed for an at-large BCS spot. And considering the Big 12, SEC and Utah will seize the other at-larges, the Buckeyes will be headed for the Capital One Bowl.

Of course, Oregon could leave much of that up in the air with a victory. The Ducks still have an outside shot at the Pac-10 crown -- needing a win versus the Beavers, along with a USC loss to UCLA on Dec. 6 -- and Oregon beating Oregon State could vault Ohio State, 10th in the BCS standings, into an at-large bid.

The last Civil War that had this much riding on it had Abraham Lincoln at the epicenter.

2. The Beavers could again be without one of their biggest weapons. Tailback Jacquizz Rodgers leads the Pac-10 in rushing and has already set the conference rushing record for a freshman, but a second-degree sprain of his left shoulder will probably keep him out against the Ducks.

During the Pac-10 coaches teleconference earlier this week, coach Mike Riley said he would consult with doctors before making a final decision, but did say, "It might not be right for him to play."

Last week, the Beavers kept their Pac-10 dreams alive without Jacquizz Rodgers -- and starting quarterback Lyle Moevao, who was out with an injured throwing shoulder but is expected back for Oregon -- by riding the other Rodgers, James. Jacquizz's older brother ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries in a win over Arizona, despite never lining up in the backfield. The key was the fly sweep, a play where Rodgers, lined up as a receiver, runs full speed behind the offensive line and takes the handoff.

If Jacquizz can't go, expect to see more of those fly sweeps. Oregon is readying the Pac-10's third-ranked rushing defense, having receivers Elvis Akpla, Jamere Holland and Terence Scott run the plays at practice this week, but even if the Ducks can take away that dimension, Sammie Stroughter and the passing game could wreak havoc on the conference's worst passing defense.

3. The key for the Ducks is to run, run, run. Outside of Pac-10 country, it seems nobody has paid much attention to the nation's sixth-ranked rushing attack. Maybe it's because it's so balanced, with running backs Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount averaging 78.4 and 74.1 yards per game, respectively, and QB Jeremiah Masoli coming in at 55.9.

The ability to establish the ground game has been the determining factor for the Ducks: in nine victories, they're averaging 295.7 yards per game, compared to 143.5 in two losses. In this matchup, it's imperative that Oregon gets the run game humming early. The Ducks rank dead last nationally in time of possession (24:56), while few teams have been better than Oregon State, which is eighth (32:21).

But running against the Beavers has been easier said than done. Oregon State has allowed 87 yards per game in its last nine games, including 86 against a USC running game that's every bit as dynamic as the Ducks'.

Oregon State went from 78th in total offense in '07 to 29th this season? How do opponents prepare for the Beavers? I spoke to an assistant coach from a team on their schedule. Here's what he had to say:

"This is a zone running team. They utilize a lot of different misdirections in the way they'll seal the backsides; we saw some of that in the USC game, where you'll see, whether there's eight coming in, they'll seal even if [they use] a wide receiver. They change that up a lot. They challenge the linebacker fits, all your run fits, your play entry.

"They have a lot of speed on the football team with the two Rodgers kids. Their running back [Jacquizz] has real good vision, so he can find any little creases. This guy has some squareness and some thickness to him and he can go low and keep his pads down to push through and get three or four extra yards and he can find some small creases. That's the vision of the good, smaller size runners like a Warrick Dunn or a Brian Westbrook, and that's what the little Rodgers can do.

"[James Rodgers] is a little bit more of a hybrid. He's a running back/receiver/reverse guy. He can do everything, but they like to get him the ball on the move and he's very productive. These guys block for each other and there's a little bit of an unselfishness quality going on there. With Stroughter, they have a lot of weapons, but [the Rodgers brothers] really make that thing go.

"The one thing is that you have to stop their inside run. You have to take care of the perimeter. These guys, [use] fly motion. What that motion is, is you get all ready to go and some guy starts sprinting toward the line and they'll either double back behind the play or go right in front of the quarterback and that flashes in front of the defenses and that speed attracts the defenders. They have that going and their quarterback does a nice job, and if you gang up on that, they have some nice vertical routes that they'll go to. They'll try to stop you dead with deep crossers."

Oregon State 30, Oregon 27. The Beavers will miss Jacquizz Rodgers against a solid Ducks defense, but if last weekend's dramatic win over Arizona was any indication, this team looks like a team of destiny. Oregon State's defense should keep it in this game and give it six straight wins in the series in Corvallis and, more importantly, a long-awaited Rose Bowl berth.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.