Oregon earning another Pac-12 championship is no longer a certain outcome when it hosts Oregon State on Saturday.
The No. 11 Ducks (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) lost their shot at earning a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff after Utah dismantled Oregon 38-7 last weekend. The Ducks ran for a season-low 63 yards on 23 carries against the Utes after churning out at least 300 rushing yards in back-to-back games against Washington and Washington State. Mario Cristobal's team cannot afford another loss this weekend if they hope to return to the Pac-12 title game for a third straight season.
The Beavers (7-4, 5-3) have a slim chance of going to Las Vegas with a victory over Oregon. Oregon State also needs a loss by Washington State in the Apple Cup to be the Pac-12 North representative. The Beavers took an important step forward with a 24-10 victory over Arizona State last weekend. Oregon State held the Sun Devils scoreless until the third quarter and limited them to just 266 total yards. Meanwhile, the Beavers ran for 237 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
Oregon leads Oregon State 66-48-10 in the rivalry series. The Beavers snapped a three-game losing streak to the Ducks with a 41-38 victory last season.
Oregon State at No. 11 Oregon
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 27 at 3:30 pm ET
Spread: Oregon -7
When Oregon State Has the Ball
For the first time in a month, B.J. Baylor had a 100-yard game. Baylor gained 150 yards on 20 carries against Arizona State, his best individual performance since running for 152 yards on 19 carries against Utah in late October. It was his sixth 100-yard game of the season, and Oregon State improved to 5-1 in those games.
Stopping Baylor won't be easy for Oregon. He sits atop the Pac-12 with 1,200 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns and is averaging 6.1 yards per game. Baylor also ranks ninth among FBS players in total rushing yards. He is the ninth Oregon State player to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season and needs just 15 more yards on Saturday to move into 11th place on the Beavers' career rushing yardage list.
Quarterback Chance Nolan has a chance to stick a dagger in the hearts of Oregon fans again. Nolan, in his first snap with Oregon State, scored on a 1-yard run with 33 seconds for the game-winning touchdown against the Ducks last season. It's been an uneven 2021 season so far for Nolan, but he is capable of stepping up and doing big things in the passing game when needed. He only threw for 90 yards and a touchdown against Arizona State, but he also completed 66.7 percent of his passes. Nolan had posted four straight 200-yard games before last week.
When Oregon Has the Ball
Few things went right for quarterback Anthony Brown against Utah. With the Ducks getting shut down on the ground, Brown was not able to do much through the air to ease the defensive pressure. Brown ultimately threw for 231 yards and a touchdown but only had one completion for double-digit yardage before halftime. He ended up completing only 48.6 percent of his passes — his lowest completion rate since September.
Brown is typically a capable dual-threat quarterback. He has run for 559 yards and eight touchdowns this season. On the passing side of things, Brown has six 200-yard games to his credit. He's probably not going to struggle for a second consecutive game based on his track record.
Travis Dye had a season-low 29 yards on only six carries against Utah. Byron Cardwell gained 35 yards on seven carries. Both players are capable of bouncing back. Dye only needs 63 yards to reach 1,000 rushing yards this season. The duo has combined for three 100-yard games so far, and both players are quite capable of reaching that plateau again before the season ends. Stopping both of them is no easy task for Oregon State.
Oregon State has been unbeatable at home this season. It's a whole different story for the Beavers on the road. They have just one victory away from Corvallis. The Ducks were humiliated against Utah and will be fired up to beat Oregon State and secure a title game rematch against the Utes. This will be a close game because both teams have potent offenses. But Oregon State doesn't have the ability to manhandle the Ducks on either side of the ball as Utah did.
Prediction: Oregon 31, Oregon State 24
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– Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sports journalist based in Utah. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.