Down to this -- The Civil War

The 108th Civil War will feature two teams that have identical 5-5 records overall and 4-3 records in the Pac-10 race. Long gone are illusions of a conference championship and a Rose Bowl appearance instead are two teams just hoping to end their season on a high note. Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti answered questions during his weekly media conference and the weekly Pac-10 media conference, streamed on oregonlive.com.

Dec. 1, 2001: Quarterback Joey Harrington #3 of the Oregon Ducks looks for a receiver while being persued by Kyle Rosselle #97 of the Oregon State Beavers during second half action at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Beavers 17-14. DIGITAL IMAGE X Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule/ALLSPORT

"I can say this very honestly and very easily that this is the most important (Civil War) game we've ever played," said Bellotti. "Simply because the stakes are the same for both teams."

It is very simple. The winner continues on to a bowl game and records a winning season. The loser stays home with a losing record. Bellotti revealed that a winning season is how he measures if a team is successful or not. In the last 10 years, Bellotti has always been successful. Having a winning season this year means the Ducks would appear in their eighth straight post-season bowl. The Ducks would also record a record 11 straight years of winning football.

"We do every year judge our season as a success if we have a winning season," Bellotti told the Pac-10 media.

The Ducks enter the game banged up but there is hope in that tight end Tim Day and wide receiver Demetrius Williams will play on Saturday according to Bellotti. Cornerback Aaron Gipson status is listed as day-to-day, as is cornerback Marquis Binns. If Gipson is not available, likely Ryan Gilliam, the speedy sophomore will make his second start. Bellotti mentioned that Gilliam has been performing better in practice as of the last few weeks. An improved Gilliam could be very useful for the Ducks if they intend on holding down OSU's record setting quarterback, Derek Anderson.

"Oregon State lives and dies with the pass," remarked Bellotti as he estimated the OSU offense. "Their offense I think is 290 yards passing and 70 yards rushing."

The big signal caller from Scappose (Ore.) is the Pac-10's leading passer with 2,906 yards on 227 completion on 429 attempts. He has thrown 21 touchdowns but has given up 16 interceptions. Anderson's favorite receiver is Mike Haas, who has 72 catches for 1,120 yards, five touchdowns and 112.0 ypg. Tight end Joe Newton is the second leading receiver with 44 catches for 536 yards, four touchdowns. Wide receiver Marcel Love has 30 catches for 414 yards, three touchdowns this season and tight end Dan Haines has 11 catches for 71 yards.

The Beavers lost their third leading receiver, Anthony Wheat-Brown, who was suspended on Monday along with two other players for violating team rules. A fourth player was suspended last week. The suspensions took place because of an incident on Friday morning at a bar in Corvallis. Allegedly, the four were involved in assaulting an Oregon National Guardsman. The Oregonian reported the Corvallis police said that a group of African American men including the four OSU players approached Staff Sgt. Gabriel Sapp at the Headline Cafe in Corvallis and made disparaging comments to Sapp's wife, who is black, about her relationship with Sapp, who is white. Sapp apparently was knocked unconscious when he hit the ground after being punched by one of the men. Sapp was not seriously injured. Sapp was on leave in Corvallis from duty in Iraq.

The other suspended players were offensive guard Whitfield Usher, defensive tackle Ryan Rainwater and defensive tackle Joe Rudulph was suspended last Friday because of the incident.

Oregon States' running game is a shadow of the Steven Jackson years. Running back Dwight Wright has 700 yards on 184 carries and five touchdowns. Wright also has 17 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Back up running back Ryan Cole has 68 carries for 199 yards and two touchdowns. He has caught 10 passes for 77 yards.

The two teams have arrived at this point of the season similarly. Oregon State started off the season playing LSU in Baton Rouge and came away with a disappointing 22-21 overtime loss. The Beavers then traveled to Boise and lost to a red-hot Boise State team, 55-34. Oregon of course lost its opener to Indiana, 30-24 and then to No. 2 ranked Oklahoma, 31-7. Both teams have managed to beat all of the Pac-10 teams with losing records, and both have been on four game win steaks. Perhaps the best effort for the two teams occurred on the same weekend when the Ducks lost to No. 4 ranked California 28-27 and later that day the Beavers gave No. 1 ranked USC all they could handle in a fog shrouded game. USC beat OSU by a 28-20 score. Oregon State has been outscored this year (23.2-to-25.5 ppg), out rushed (73.2-to-124.0 ypg) but have out passed opponents (298.0-to-200.9 ypg). Oregon has outscored opponents 26.1 points per game to 23.2. The Ducks have also out rushed the foes 163.7 yards per game to 125.6 and have out passed by a 249.5-to-201.7-ypg margin. Oregon is third in the Pac-10 in sacks with 29, while OSU is seventh in the same category with 23 sacks for the year.

The two teams are at the bottom of the Pac-10 in penalties. The Ducks have been flagged 82 times for a total of 772 yards (77.2 ypg) lost and the Beavers have been caught four more times at 86 for minus 779 yards or 77.8 yards per game average.

OSU leads the Pac-10 in red zone efficiency with 19 touchdowns on 28-of-34 times or scoring 82.4 percent of the time the Beavers get the ball inside the 25-yard line. Oregon on the other hand is No. 8 in the conference with 25 touchdowns from 31-of-42 times inside the 25 or scoring 73.8 percent of the time.

Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens is the Pac-10's third best passer with 2,422 yards on 210-for-343, 19 touchdowns, seven interceptions and averaging 242.2 yards per game. Terrence White eclipsed the 1,000-yard running mark last week and now has 1,034 yards on 182 carries and six touchdowns. Whitehead is the Ducks' second leading receiver with 40 catches for 374 yards and two touchdowns. Williams is the leading Oregon receiver with 43 catches for 539 but only has one touchdown in his injury-riddled year. Day has 33 grabs for 451 yards and six touchdowns. Other Duck receivers with double digit catches this year are Marcus Maxwell (25-287-2), Dante Rosario (25-278-6), Cameron Colvin (14-191-2) and Garren Strong (10-85).

The annual game is the 108th time the two schools have met on the gridiron. The series the seventh longest in the nation and this is the first time in this long series that both teams are .500 coming into the game. The home team (UO 4, OSU 3) has won the last seven games in the series. Overall, UO leads 54-43-10.

Bellotti observed that much of the problems the Ducks faced this year boiled down to players doing something extra in order to make a play. In the past the Ducks have been very successful in winning close games and this year their record reflects the fact that Oregon was unable to capitalize on opportunities. Unable to hold onto passes, committing penalties, missing tackles are just some of the examples of what has gone wrong. Two glaring areas illustrating what may have gone wrong for the Ducks are sacks given up and third down conversions. While recording 29 sacks, the Ducks have given up 34 sacks. Equally disturbing is that Oregon is only 55-of-137 on conversion attempts or 37.7 percent. Obviously, the offensive line must take a role in those numbers and if Oregon is successful on offense those two statistics will need to improve. According to Bellotti the down field passing success is effected by the protection afforded the quarterback.

In order for the Ducks to win at Reser Stadium, Oregon must put pressure on Anderson and keep track of Haas. This will be a very difficult task consider the Beaver faithful will be the most hostile crowd the Ducks have faced all year, Offensively, Oregon's offensive line must provide enough protection so that Clemens to deliver the ball down field and the Oregon receivers must make their catches. It may all be as simple as that for the Ducks, just as it will be a simple calculation of what happens to the team that loses on Saturday.

Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will be carried on Fox Sports.

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