The Oregon State Beavers (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12) have already pulled off one big upset at home this year, toppling the Arizona State Sun Devils. Saturday night (5pm PT, ABC) provides another chance for the Beavs to play spoiler, this time against the No. 2 ranked Oregon Ducks (10-1, 7-1) in the 118th Civil War. Previous OSU squads that have beaten highly ranked teams are known as “Giant Killers,” and this team would easily join the ranks by taking down ASU and Oregon.
The Civil War has not been kind to Oregon State in recent years. After an overtime victory at Autzen Stadium in 2007 to end a ten-year streak of “home team wins” in the Civil War, the Beavs haven’t won since. Last year’s Civil War at Autzen was especially harsh for Beaver believers. OSU scored a touchdown with 98 seconds to play for a 35-30 lead. But that was just too much time for the Ducks, as Marcus Mariota threw the game-winning score to Josh Huff with 29 seconds to go, and Oregon won 36-35.
This game will also be the third straight time the Ducks have a chance to clinch a big postseason bowl berth in Corvallis, and they did so successfully the first two times. In 2010, Oregon won 37-20, finished a perfect regular season and nabbed a spot in the BCS Title game against Auburn. In 2012, the Ducks won 48-24 to clinch a BCS at-large berth. A win on Saturday would mean Oregon’s worst postseason bowl would likely be a CFB at-large berth even with a loss in the Pac-12 title game.
If the Beavs were up for the Arizona State game, I can’t imagine how amped Mike Riley and company are for this one. But Oregon is not ASU. ASU is a good team; Oregon is a great team. It would be one thing if the Beavs were already over .500 and having a fair season besides the Sun Devil win. But this same OSU team lost to Cal at home by two touchdowns and still has yet to become bowl eligible. That’s not a good sign for the Beavs.
The Oregon State “Giant Killers” are teams that are still remembered today for toppling top teams. Certainly the 2014 Beavs have a chance to be one of those clubs, but beating Oregon would take an even better game than the one OSU had against Arizona State. Anything can happen on a college football Saturday, but there’s unlikely to be a major upset. The Beavs will play well, but not well enough to become the next Giant Killers.