This will be a coaching war.
Oregon State's Mike Riley (80-65) and Oregon's Chip Kelly (44-7) will face off and the stakes for each are huge. This round is at Reser, center of Beaver Nation.
It's flash vs. familiar.
It's three-play drives vs. three yards and a cloud of dust.
It's climate controlled personal locker room spaces vs. lunchpails and hardhats.
And it's going to be a chess match to the bitter end.
AND JUST LIKE with chess, you can't blame the pieces for making the wrong move when you lose. You can only blame the architect of those moves. This is the last Civil War for Markus Wheaton, Jordan Poyer, Castro Masaniai, Feti Unga, Andrew Seumalo, Rudolf Fifita and others. The list goes on (slightly) but I don't want to make you cry this close to the holidays.
But Chip Kelly does. Sometimes, you see Chip Kelly smile after the Ducks score a touchdown, and I swear to beer that he looks like Chucky even more than Jon Gruden.
That devious smirk is the product of arguably the most potent offense in the nation, and he has two tailbacks in De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner who are all but unstoppable when they heat up.
You also have the dual threat redshirt freshman QB Marcus Mariota, who will be coming into Corvallis looking to realign some BCS dreams by runnin' down the Beavs.
And you can bet everything you have on the notion that Chip Kelly plans on running the ball at least 15 times in the first quarter, and probably 25-30 at the half.
THE SILVER LINING for the Beavers rests in Riley's counterpunch coaching. And this…
The thing most people seem to forget about Oregon is that they're predictable. Who are they going to go to 75-85 percent of the time? Barner/ Thomas, QB keeper or a toss to Josh Huff in the red zone.
Riley may not be the most up-tempo commander unless out there. But Riley gets the logistics of the game, and the fact remains that the Ducks have a depleted defense that struggles in pass defense and will be dealing with depth issues all game long.
There's actually the potential you'll see Riley's smirk more than Kelly's.
If the Beaver D can keep the Duck offense off the field, subsequently keeping the orange and black clad offensive players on the field against a Duck D who has shown early signs of fatigue throughout the season, who knows what could happen? A few long touchdown drives by the Beaver O, perhaps?
I'm expecting Riley to come out reserved at the outset. He will want to gauge Kelly to the best of his ability, even if it means running the risk of letting go an early lead and/or punting the ball away. Not for long, though.
Kelly's troops might start to wilt by the second half. Riley and Co. know they'll need to pounce if and when that happens.
Let the chess match begin.
It won't just be a Civil War on the field...
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