The Rose Bowl is within reach for Oregon State. Only Oregon stands in the way.
CORVALLIS — The Rose Bowl is within reach for Oregon State. Only Oregon stands in the way.
The No. 17 Beavers (8-3, 7-1 Pac-10) host the rival No. 19 Ducks (8-3, 6-2) on Saturday in the 112th Civil War.
A win would send Oregon State to its fourth Rose Bowl and first since the 1964 season.
"It's a one-game season now," Beavers defensive end Victor Butler said.
Even if the Beavers don't win, they could still clinch a Rose Bowl berth if No. 5 USC (9-1, 7-1) loses in its finale against UCLA on Dec. 6. An Oregon victory and a Trojan loss would result in the three-way tie for the conference title, but Oregon State would win the tiebreaker for the Rose Bowl.
Oregon, which is coming off a bye, also has the chance to avenge a 23-13 loss to the Beavers in the 2000 Civil War, which knocked the Ducks out of the Rose Bowl.
"We're playing the game to win," Oregon center Max Unger said. "You can dress it up and say it means a lot more (to the Beavers), but every single game we go out there and dress up and go to win the game."
There are questions surrounding the Beavers going into the game. The team will be without freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who leads the conference in rushing (averaging 113.9 yards a game) and is ranked 12th in the nation.
Rodgers, know as Quizz, injured his shoulder early in Oregon State's 19-17 victory over Arizona last weekend. Coach Mike Riley confirmed Friday that Rodgers was not going to play.
Ryan McCants will get the start at tailback for the Beavers and Jeremy Francis also will play.
Without Rodgers, Oregon State is likely to turn to his older brother, James. A flanker, James Rodgers is adept at running the fly sweep, which has become a staple of the Beavers' offense.
James Rodgers ran 25 yards on a fly sweep for a touchdown in the second overtime against the Ducks in the Civil War last year for a 38-31 Oregon State victory at Autzen Stadium, breaking a 10-game winning streak for the home team in the series.
The Beavers will start Lyle Moevao at quarterback. The sophomore sat out of the victory over Arizona last week because of a sore shoulder.
Backup Sean Canfield completed 20 of 32 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown and led the Beavers on a comeback drive in the final two minutes that ended with Justin Kahut's game-winning field goal. He also led the Beavers over California 34-21 in his other start this season.
Moevao has started in nine games this season, throwing for 14 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
"This is the game that we have been dreaming about going to all year," Moevao said about the Civil War. "You dream about going to this bowl game and that bowl game and then it finally comes down to your last game, rivalry week. We know this will be a tough challenge playing at home. We know what's at stake. You either win or you lose."
Oregon State has won six straight overall, and eight straight at Reser Stadium.
Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will start for the rested Ducks. In Oregon's last game, a 55-45 victory over Arizona, Masoli rushed for three touchdowns and threw for two more, earning conference player of the week honors.
Masoli, a junior college transfer, started fall practice as Oregon's third-string quarterback, behind Nate Costa and Justin Roper. Costa suffered a knee injury a week before the opener that required season-ending surgery.
Roper became the team's starter but missed nearly four weeks with a knee injury, and Masoli stepped into the starting role. Known more for his running ability than his passing, Masoli has shrugged off his doubters. He has thrown for nine scores and run for six more this season.
In Oregon's spread-option offense, LeGarrette Blount has 15 rushing touchdowns, one shy of the school's single season record.
But the game could come down to defense, where Oregon State appears to have the edge. The Beavers rank second in the conference, behind USC, in total defense, allowing an average of 289.6 yards a game. They rank second in rushing defense (112 yards a game) and fourth in pass defense (177.6 yards a game).
The Ducks lead the overall series between the two teams 55-46-10, but Oregon State has won two straight. Oregon has not won in Corvallis since 1996.
But bragging rights are secondary in this Civil War game.
"There's literally a BCS bowl berth riding on this game. The Pac-10 championship is riding on this game. National implications," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "Not just the pride of the state of Oregon."