Commentary: Ducks hot, Beavers not in 121st Civil War

November 26, 2017 GMT

EUGENE — Really, was Oregon’s margin of victory in the 121st Civil War football game Saturday that big of a surprise?

The Ducks, with Justin Herbert back in the saddle, are on the upswing under first-year head coach Willie Taggart. The Beavers, on the other hand, are a mess and right now look like one of the worst teams in Division I college football. Cory Hall was their interim head coach the last six games after Gary Andersen bailed on them following the USC loss in Los Angeles Oct. 7.

Oregon regained state bragging rights by destroying Oregon State, 69-10, before 57,475 at Autzen Stadium. It marked the most points the Ducks have ever scored in a Civil War game, surpassing the 65 Mike Bellotti’s final UO team laid on the Beavers in Corvallis in 2008.

This game was over early in the second quarter. The Ducks (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12 North) scored five touchdowns in the period and led 52-7 at intermission. Oregon scored on its first seven possessions and blew away the Beavers (1-11, 0-9), who finished winless in conference play for the second time in three seasons.

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The Ducks outgained the Beavers, 577-211. Oregon State ran through Oregon last year in a 34-24 victory at Reser Stadium, but the Beavers were held to 98 yards in 36 attempts Saturday. OSU junior Ryan Nall was no factor, managing only 41 yards on 14 carries.

Total domination.

“It meant the world,” Taggart said of the win. “I didn’t want to be that coach who went through the offseason with a loss to the team up north. I could tell how miserable it was through the offseason, it was all you hear.

“We had a great week of practice and had some extra incentive. A lot of the trash talking during the week (by the Beavers) really got our guys motivated and ticked off. It was a controlled ticked off.”

Hall was the one who supplied some locker room material for the Ducks. He said earlier in the week, “I remember (at last year’s game) seeing that our sideline was jumping around and we didn’t have raincoats on and then I saw the fancy Nike Duck raincoats on. And I remember thinking, ‘We’re going to beat them. They’re not prepared for these elements.’”

“They ran their mouths all week,” said linebacker Troy Dye, who led the Ducks with eight tackles. “A shout out to their head coach for giving us the motivation and passion.”

The Beavers were simply outmanned at just about every position on both sides of the ball.

“Did I see this coming? Absolutely not,” said Hall. “They’re a good football team.”

Herbert, a Sheldon High product, is a difference-maker for Oregon after missing five games with a broken collarbone. The sophomore completed 13 of 23 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns, and added a 6-yard TD run.

“He’s our franchise quarterback,” Taggart said. “When he came back (last week against Arizona) he just inspired everybody else. He’s special.”

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Running back Royce Freeman, one of 23 seniors honored before the game, turned in another 100-yard performance. He finished with 122 yards on 19 carries and scored a pair of TDs, moving into sixth place on the all-time NCAA rushing list.

Freeman praised the offensive line — consisting of center Jake Hanson, guards Shane Lemieux and Calvin Throckmorton, and tackles Tyrell Crosby and Brady Aiello. Crosby is the only senior of the group.

“It was a lot of emotion in pre-game, but more joy we beat the Beavers,” Freeman said.

Kani Benoit chipped in 122 yards rushing, including a 47-yard touchdown, for the Ducks. Sophomore wide receiver Dillon Mitchell burned the OSU secondary, catching six passes for 119 yards and two scores. Sophomore tight end Jacob Breeland made three receptions, one of them a 12-yard TD.

“I thought we played really well on both sides of the ball,” Herbert said. “This is definitely the way we wanted to send the seniors out.”

The only negative numbers for the hosts were 12 penalties for 138 yards.

“You could sense they (the Beavers) were giving up (in the second quarter),” Crosby said. “I felt we were able to impose our will on them.”

The Ducks will find out their bowl game destination sometime in the next day or two. The Cactus Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 26 has been mentioned as a possibility.

“This is an awesome way to go out (at home),” Crosby said. “We’re looking forward to another game.”