BF.C KEYS: The Civil War

ON THE FACE of it, this looks like a bad matchup for Oregon State. The Beavers are hobbled by injury, missing a boat load of key players, long on youth and short on experience. Meanwhile Oregon is relatively healthy, loaded with talent, speed and experience - and the game is at Autzen. It seems as if the Ducks can't lose. But this is the Civil War…

And in the Civil War, records mean little and the underdog always has a puncher's chance.

Make no mistake, for the Beavers to win this game would take the best 60 minutes the Beavers have played all year - maybe the best 60 minutes of football they have played for a few years, for that matter. It's a tall order for the Beavers to come away with a win.

It's going to take something special. Special effort, special execution, special gameplan.

But Mike Riley seems to have a few wrinkles every year for the Civil War, and last season defensive coordinator Mark Banker had a good plan cooked up that was keeping the Beavers in the game until a fake punt broke the game open, and seemed to break the Beavers' spirit.

It feels as if Banker has an idea how to slow the Oregon attack and frankly, the underrated Oregon defense against the streaky and inconsistent Oregon State offense is really the matchup to watch on Saturday. On to the Keys…

1 - Don't Play Santa Claus. Of the many reasons for the struggles that the Beavers have faced this season, at the very top of the list are the continued gifts that the Men in Black hand their opponents in the form of critical turnovers and untimely penalties. The Beavers will need a clean game and absolutely need to quit committing drive-killing penalties.

2 - Assignment Football. Oregon's offense is not an unstoppable juggernaut that simply overpowers opponents on every snap. What they are is a well-coached team executing a well-designed offense that will absolutely make you pay for overcommitting or leaving your assignment. The Beavers will have to trust each other to do their jobs and simply NOT try to do too much.

3 - Get Lucky. In a season where bad luck has followed the Beavers around like a raincloud following Charlie Brown, it sure feels like the Beavers are due for some good fortune. Some lucky bounces on tipped balls, a few turnovers - that's exactly what the Beavers need to do. If they are plus-2 or better in the turnover department, it feels like the Beavers will at least have a chance to keep things interesting.

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