College football: Does Oregon State have a shot at derailing Oregon's season?

Oregon State could derail Oregon's conference championship and CFP hopes on Saturday in Corvallis. (Tom Hauck/Getty Images)
Oregon State could derail Oregon's conference championship and CFP hopes on Saturday in Corvallis. (Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

No. 6 Oregon hosts Oregon State in a regular-season finale in what is likely the Pac-12's final season. Due to conference realignment, this will also be the final game of this in-state rivalry as both teams head their separate ways starting next year.

On the line

Just one Pac-12 team (Washington) has clinched a spot in the title game. As it stands, there are two teams that are playing for the final spot: Oregon, and the team everyone predicted, the 8-3 Arizona Wildcats.

If the Ducks beat the Beavers, they’re in. Arizona’s path to the title game includes a win on the road at Arizona State and Oregon State pulling the upset over Oregon.

It’s not just a conference title berth in the balance either. There’s still a shot Oregon makes the College Football Playoff; the Ducks need to beat Oregon State this week and then Washington in the Pac-12 championship game. It’s not a guarantee, but at least a case could be made for the Ducks to be in the final four if that scenario plays out.

Oregon State at Oregon

An upset is unlikely. The Ducks offense is a well-oiled machine that has balance; it's the No. 1 graded passing offense and No. 2 graded rushing offense, per PFF. Ducks quarterback Bo Nix is one of the most well-protected quarterbacks in the country with just five sacks on 384 dropbacks. We’ve seen what Nix is capable of behind a strong offensive line. Last week against Arizona State, he was 22 of 27 for 381 passing yards and six touchdowns … in the first half. This is the best version of Nix in his college career, with improved pocket passing, awareness, decision making, patience and overall aptitude for the game.

If gridlocked, however, Oregon doesn’t have to rely on Nix because it has a solid running back corps in Bucky Irving and Jordan James. These two have innate instincts with the ability to create yardage where others may not. Throw in catch ability out of the backfield and on the perimeter and this offense is a legitimate threat to every defense, including Georgia if given the chance.

This will be the most complete team the Beavers have faced all season. Oregon State struggled against an Arizona defense that, although stout, is still graded outside the top 75. Oregon is 20th, backed by a top-40 pass rush. In that matchup against the Wildcats, Beavers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed just 16 of his 30 passes, which is on par with what he’s produced this season (54% against Top 25 opponents). Coming off a game where he three two interceptions to the Huskies, Uiagalelei has an uphill battle ahead.

The difference between facing Washington last week and getting the Ducks this week is defense. Oregon is tied for eighth in touchdowns allowed (21) compared to Huskies at 55th (33). If DJ and Co. can get downfield despite his inaccuracy, the Beavers may still have difficulty converting those trips into touchdowns. Oregon is top 30 in opponent touchdown percentage inside the red zone and top 10 in rushing scores allowed — the preferred scoring method for the Beavers. The Ducks have allowed just eight rushing touchdowns all season.

Dan Lanning will have his team ready. If there’s anything we’ve learned from him as a coach this season, it's that he is aggressive and can shout praise from the rooftops because he knows he has the team to back it up with action.

Covering a double-digit spread is likely for the Ducks, but the better options would be backing the under on 62.5 and Oregon State to score under 24.5. The Ducks offense is too balanced and strong and it's backed with a high-caliber defense.