This Civil War will be decided by...

A WEEK AGO, I was positive that the winner of the Civil War game between Oregon State and Oregon would be decided by who executes the best out on the field. And it still will. But who executes best this Friday will be decided by something else entirely...


Both Oregon State and Oregon come into this one (TV: Fox Sports 1, 4:00 p.m.) with big-time laments. We'll start with the Ducks.

In a complete shocker, Oregon got manhandled 42-16 this past Saturday by Arizona. The all-but-unstoppable Duck offense still put up more than 500 yards -- but not the points, and three turnovers proved deadly.

But more than the turnovers, Oregon didn't look right.

QB Marcus Mariota, a shoe-in candidate for the Heisman earlier this season who now has no chance, just didn't have good body language throughout that game. I thought at first it was due to his leg injury but there were times he looked good taking off out of the pocket on Saturday, so it's hard to know why.

But regardless of "why", the reality was plain to see. And the rest of the Ducks generally followed suit, especially the receivers who dropped multiple passes early and often, showing more and more frustration. Meanwhile, the Duck defense, was run over by Ka'Deem Carey for more than 200 rushing yards.

EVERYONE HAS HEARD by now how star Oregon RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas and WR Josh Huff appeared indifferent to a looming Rose Bowl berth, one that was seemingly guaranteed before the loss to Arizona. But in case you've been living in a cave:

"I don't want to play in a Rose Bowl unless I'm playing for a national championship," Huff told reporters a week ago Monday.

"It's not a big deal at all," Thomas said at the time. "We already won a Rose Bowl, so it feels like, 'Whatever.'"

Both players received a good amount of backlash, and that was before the loss to 'Zona.

And so one would think those two Ducks could be extra motivated for the Civil War. But there's also a danger there. Sometimes players can get too jacked up for a game, they come out and try too hard and things go south. Some Duck fans might think that's what actually happened last Saturday, and they have a pretty good case.

AND THEN THERE is Oregon State (6-5). Everyone knows they're riding a four game losing streak, with the last of them a lopsided shocker-of-a-loss to UW on Saturday.

Can they recapture their earlier season mojo? Because it feels like three seasons ago that the Beavs came into the Stanford matchup at 6-1 and on the verge of something big.

Sean Mannion was leading the nation in passing and fast becoming a darkhorse Heisman candidate. The Beaver D was somehow pulling magical finishes out of their hats. Brandin Cooks was putting up huge receiving numbers -- before halftime.

None of that matters now.

Only the way the Beavs execution on Friday does. Same goes for Oregon.

And given the dashed dreams of both teams this past weekend, that means the 117th Civil War is going to come down to heart.

It's going to be about which team comes out strong to start. It's going to be about which team, when faced with adversity, is going swing from their heels with a decisive counter-punch.

ONE OF THE best, most satisfying Oregon State games of recent years in my book was the win over No. 1 USC in 2008 OSU came in with a 1-2 record. No one gave them a chance. But on the very first series -- for both the Beaver offense and defense -- you could see Oregon State had much more than a chance.

Will Oregon State come out with the same heart on Friday. Will they start the Civil War by punching their opponent in the mouth, like that '08 squad did against Troy. Will the Beavs get back to playing smart, assignment football. Will they play to the whistle. Or will Oregon be the ones who bounce back with a vengeance.

After watching this OSU and UO football seasons, after watching what happened on Saturday, I have come to this inescapable conclusion:

I have no clue.

NOTABLE NOTE: Oregon RB Byron Marshall would appear to be, at best, doubtful for Friday's game after leaving the Arizona field on crutches with a boot on his foot.

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