Rivalry or Not it is Still Win the Day
"We have 12 rivalries. I've said that from day one," said Chip Kelly during his weekly media conference on Tuesday. "I think if you look at one game and circle it on the calendar (that) you've diminished another opponent…I've never believed in the rivalry concept."
That may rile some die-hard fans who may look back over all those years and point out the barn burners like last year's 37-33 Oregon win the sealed a Rose Bowl bid for the Ducks while denying the same bowl trip for the Beavers. Or how about how the Ducks tried to upend one of the great all-time Beaver teams, The Giant Killers of 1967 only to fall 14-10. Some might even point out to a game of joint misery, the rain-soaked, Toilet Bowl of 1983, a game that ended in a 0-0 tie.
This season, as last there are some huge implications for the winner of the game. An Oregon (11-0, 8-0) win ensures a bid to the BCS Championship game, something neither team has ever had a shot at. An Oregon State (5-6, 4-4) win means six wins for the season and bowl eligibility. However, Kelly isn't letting his guard down. His team is approaching this game as they have every week this season. Disregarding what has happened in the past and focusing on the team they will play this week.
The Beavers have been up and down all season. They lost two very competitive games with two tough opponents early in the season – TCU (30-21) and Boise State (37-24) but beat halfway through October had a 3-2 record with wins over Louisville (35-28) Arizona State (31-28) and Arizona (29-27). Then while holding an AP Poll ranking of 24, lost in double-overtime to Washington 35-34. Just when it looked the darkest for the Beavers, a demolishing of California 35-7 had hopes raised high in Corvallis. Then November came along and an old nemesis, traveling the Rose Bowl against UCLA popped up and Oregon State was on the wrong end, 17-14. Perhaps one of the most embarrassing losses for the Beaver program occurred at home against the Pac-10 bottom dweller Washington State. The Cougars completely dominated OS 31-14. Then as they have all season came back and Oregon State thrashed USC 36-7 at Reser Stadium, only to be outclassed last week 38-0 at Stanford.
So which team does Kelly expect to see next Saturday?
"We think we are going to see the really good team," replied Kelly to the question of which Beaver team shows up. "The team that dismantled USC two weeks ago."
That's why Kelly intends of doing things the same way each week. It's fundamental to what the Ducks do, training the mind as well as the body, and not taking anything for granted. For Oregon it is all about how they prepare in practice. The Oregon headman harps on winning each snap even if it is a practice snap. Winning the day-to-day things in practice is how he expects success will happen against Oregon State.
"This whole program is built on winning the day and the only thing that counts is today," Kelly said of his approach to the game preparation. "If we can string together a couple of good days this week, that will give us an opportunity to win on Saturday. I can point out a million teams around the country that have gotten caught up in things you don't control. We don't control a lot of things but we do control how hard we practice. Hopefully that is the lesson they'll take and pride for the rest of their lives. You can't be a selective participant. You can't say ‘I'm really going to work hard this week and take it easy next week' because if you do you're going to get beat."
A guy on the OS roster that Kelly isn't overlooking by any stretch is Jacquizz Rodgers. The talented running back is second in the Pac-10 in rushing at 99.7 yards per game, and 14 touchdowns. As dangerous as Rodgers is running the ball, Kelly is very concerned about Quizz Rodgers the receiver.
"I still remembering him catching a dump pass in front of our bench and running it down to the 1-yard line," recalled Kelly. "We just can't keep him down the whole time. I think the difference between Quizz and other running backs in the country is what a threat he is in the passing game. He caught 78 passes a year ago and 38 passes this year. I really think he and LaMichael (James) are the two top kids around. I've got a ton of respect for him."
One part of the Oregon attack that will have to win the day is the Duck offensive line. So far this year they've done a pretty job of things as evidenced by the 555 points have scored and rushing for 300 ypg. The Duck line, not only is blocking up front for the running backs and protecting the quarterback, they are also calling out to Darron Thomas what is going on the other side of the ball. Thomas says it is the line that is noticing what is going on while he is "looking at the sidelines." Kelly thinks the line's success is physical and mental.
"Our offensive line is integral to what we do," claims Kelly. "We lead the conference in rushing and are right up at the top in the country in rushing. A lot of what we do is because of what we do athletically and really the brains of our offensive line."
Oregon will need all the brainpower from the line they can get because this is the Civil War. The Beavers have an interesting note in their media release this week, that is the number of times national titles have been dashed by Oregon State – three times, in 1967 against #1 USC, 2007 against then #2 Cal and in 2008 against #1 USC.
Kelly though is making sure he is doing everything possible to see that doesn't happened to the Ducks by focusing on all the tasks that go into winning the day.
Kickoff for Saturday's game at Reser Stadium is 12:30 p.m. The game will be carried live on ABC.
- Soon to be dad Mark Asper is, according to Kelly the "head coach" in regards to the pending birth of a new baby Asper. Kelly indicated that family is more important than football and he'll support Asper's decision in case the baby should arrive on gameday.
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