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Oregon Ducks vs. Oregon State Beavers Prediction and Preview

Oregon Ducks vs. Oregon State Beavers Prediction and Preview

Oregon Ducks vs. Oregon State Beavers Prediction and Preview

Bragging rights are all that's at stake for Oregon and Oregon State in this edition of the Civil War.

The Ducks (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) are already assured of a bowl bid and a second straight winning season. Oregon held off a late rally by Arizona State and won 31-29 on Saturday night to bounce back from a tough road loss at Utah a week earlier. It was just the second time in the last five games that the Ducks had scored 30 or more points.

The Beavers (2-9, 1-7) lost their third straight game, falling to Washington 42-23 on Saturday. Oregon State is assured of a fifth consecutive losing season and third straight last-place finish in the Pac-12 North because of a defense that has surrendered 44.3 points and 545.6 yards per game against league opponents this season.

Oregon holds a 64-47-10 lead in the Civil War. The Ducks have won nine of the last 10 games against Oregon State, including a 69-10 thrashing in Eugene last season.

Oregon at Oregon State

Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. ET

TV: FS1

Spread: Oregon -16.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Is this the regular-season finale for Justin Herbert at Oregon?

Time could be winding down on Herbert's college football career. Many NFL scouts are tabbing Herbert as the top quarterback prospect if he chooses to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. He hasn't piled up a ton of wins as a starter for the Ducks, with just a 15-11 record in 26 career starts. Still, Herbert has skills as a passer that will put him high on the wish lists of multiple NFL teams hoping to nab a potential franchise quarterback.

Herbert ranks second in the Pac-12 in total passing yards with 2,883 yards. He has thrown 27 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions. Dillon Mitchell has been Herbert's favorite target, hauling in 68 catches for a Pac-12-best 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns.

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There is some concern with Herbert's accuracy. He's completed just 59 percent of his passes this season, which ranks ninth among Pac-12 quarterbacks. Herbert has also struggled with turnovers over the last two weeks. He had a first quarter fumble against Utah that set up one of the Utes' two touchdowns. Herbert also threw a pair of interceptions against Arizona State that opened the door for the Sun Devils to mount a second-half rally.

2. Can Jermar Jefferson add to his freshman record tally?

One of the few bright spots in an otherwise tough season for Oregon State is the emergence of Jefferson in the backfield. Jefferson began the season as a backup to Artavis Pierce. Since then, he has become one of the nation's leading rushers.

Jefferson has run for 1,316 yards heading into his final game of the season. He passed Jacquizz Rogers after rushing for 115 yards in the loss to Washington to set a new school record for a true freshman (Rogers ran for 1,253 yards in 2008). Now Jefferson just needs 125 more yards to move ahead of Rogers for fifth place on the Beavers' single-season rushing yardage list.

His chances of reaching the mark against Oregon are decent. Jefferson has topped 100 rushing yards in seven games this season. He ranks second among Pac-12 players in total rushing yards, and his 119.6 yards per game is good for third in the league.

3. Will the Ducks reverse their road woes?

Winning away from home has turned into a struggle for Oregon this season. The Ducks opened their road slate with a convincing victory over California. Since then, Oregon has lost three straight road contests, to Washington State, Arizona and Utah.

One common thread in those road losses is a lack of consistent offensive production. The Ducks scored just 20.0 points per game in the three contests and averaged 334.3 total yards. The low point came in their 44-15 loss to the Wildcats when they totaled a season-low 270 yards and averaged a scant 3.8 yards per play.

Moving the ball shouldn't be a chore against Oregon State, regardless of the venue. The Beavers are dead last among Pac-12 teams in both total defense (539.2 ypg) and scoring defense (44.8 ppg).

Final Analysis

It's a popular cliche to tell everyone to throw out the records in a rivalry game because anything can happen. That just isn't the case here. Oregon has struggled to finish drives over the past few games, but that won't be a problem for the Ducks against Oregon State. It's true that the Beavers have a productive offense. Still, it isn't enough to make up for a defense that has been out of its league against virtually every offense it has faced this season. The Ducks will fly high in this rivalry clash.

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Prediction: Oregon 42, Oregon State 28

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.