Players looking forward to an intriguing Civil War
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) When the Oregon State Beavers say they're looking forward to the Civil War, they really mean it.
In recent seasons the team hasn't always seemed quite as sincere about the prospects in facing Oregon, which has an eight-game winning streak in the rivalry.
But it has been a disappointing season for the Ducks, who are 4-7 overall and 2-6 in the Pac-12, and likely won't play in the postseason for the first time since 2004.
Oregon State, which is 3-8 overall but has an identical conference record as the Ducks, likes its chances at home, especially after a 42-17 victory over Arizona at Reser Stadium this past Saturday night.
The Beavers are definitely fired up.
''Everyone in Oregon is probably going to be there, so we're looking to win that one, too,'' said cornerback Dwayne Williams.
Marcus McMaryion, pressed into duty as a starter for the Beavers earlier this season after both Darell Garretson and backup Conor Blount were injured, threw for 265 yards and a career-best five touchdowns against the Wildcats.
Oregon State announced on Monday that the Civil War game was already a sellout.
''Big games are created sometimes by win-loss records or where you sit in the season. This game is a big game every year regardless of the situation or the scenario,'' Beavers coach Gary Andersen said. ''Our kids understand that, they know that and it's a privlege and honor for them to play in it. It's a game they'll remember for the rest of their lives. ''
The Ducks will be motivated, too.
Oregon is coming off a 30-28 upset of then-No. 11 Utah, a victory that was sealed by Justin Herbert's touchdown pass to Darren Carrington with two seconds left.
Oregon State running back Ryan Nall predicted a fun game. Nall has rushed for 796 yards and nine touchdowns, but his season has been marred by a foot injury.
''We're going to take off with momentum. Oregon also came off a big win, so they are going to come after us,'' Nall said. ''They're not going to just going to think, `Oh, it's Oregon State. We beat them every year.' It's going to be a fun game. We're coming off a big win; they're coming off a big win. We'll see who can execute the best.''
Nall's Oregon counterpart, Royce Freeman, has had two straight games with 100 or more yards, and seems to have bounced back after a midseason lull. Freeman has 839 yards rushing and nine touchdowns.
''The last two weeks have been better, there's still time,'' coach Mark Helfrich said. ''He did some great stuff absolutely like you're saying, that's the quote-unquote `old Royce.' That was good to see.''
In the end, however, the game may come down to defense, where both teams are struggling.
Oregon is ranked 126th in the nation for total defense, allowing an average of 528.2 yards a game, and 126th in scoring defense, allowing 42.1 points per game.
The Beavers are allowing averages of 433.3 yards and 31.1 points per game. They're ranked 88th in both categories.
Andersen cautioned not to be fooled by Oregon's slump this season.
''Do I worry about our kids getting over hyped? No, we talked about it today,'' Andersen said. ''You walk into these games and you respect your opponent. You expect to go out and play well, you expect to win, and that's what you do against every opponent that you play. Does this game have a little extra energy, a little extra juice? It should because it's your last regular season game of the season. You're playing against your rival.''