- The Ducks defense isn't very good at all. They don't really stop anyone - they simply hold just enough for the offense to score more. And since the offense is so good, it usually works.
However, despite how well Stanford did against Oregon they haven't seen a team with the balance of run and pass of Oregon State. The Beavers throw to Jacquizz Rodgers out of the backfield almost as much as they throw to James Rodgers down the field. They also have finally started using Joe Halahuni as a target more - and he's delivered. Tight end has always been a key part of the Beavers pass offense, but early in the year they weren't using him much at all. And they struggled. Coincidence? Hardly. Damola Adeniji is a very underrated receiver - it's unfortunate for the Beavers he's a senior.
When a bad defense faces an offense with so much balance, it usually loses. It doesn't hurt that not only are they balanced but the Beavers passing game is the league's best, and Jacquizz is still my pick for the best player in the league.
- Stephen Paea. This defensive tackle has the best first step in the Pac-10. With all due respect to Brian Price from UCLA, no one reads a snap count better and explodes into a backfield faster than Paea - and he's been getting better and better all season.
The Ducks offense is predicated off very good blocking that opens running lanes for Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James, and allowing Masoli to move around to set up for passes. This means they have to hold their blocks or move the defender to where they want them - Paea is so fast he could force them to throw that out the window.
That means potential drive-killing holding penalties, and it also means the linebackers have to be even more careful of Masoli running - something they should be aware of anyway. Paea is a game-changer.
- Experience. The Beavers have a lot of players that didn't play last year in the Civil War, but many of the key players for this team were in Corvallis last year and saw their dreams of a Rose Bowl berth blown away. Coaches have talked all week and a half about how they truly feel the team has a better mindset this year, that they are approaching this as a one game thing, rather than thinking about the potential Rose Bowl berth.
Nothing could be more important in a game like this than focus. That's not saying that the Ducks aren't focused as well, but they don't have the feeling of loss that has haunted them all season long like the Beavers. They truly feel they gave up their shot at a Rose Bowl last year, and this year has been all about redemption. Discounting that would be silly.
- The Rodgers brothers. Junior James Rodgers is the Pac-10's most effective wide receiver with the most catches and big play ability. He also is a threat to run the ball on his fabled fly sweeps. Add to that he returns kicks and punts with the chance to take it to the house every time he touches the ball and there may not be a greater threat in the league.
Other than his brother Quizz. With all due respect to James and my Heisman choice, Stanford's Toby Gerhart, Quizz is the best running back in the Pac-10. His ability to switch directions on a dime is mind boggling and while you don't want to throw out comparisons like this for a college sophomore, it's hard not to think Barry Sanders when you see him play. Plus, no running back in the nation is more of a threat in the passing game than Quizz - and he's a pretty decent blocker.
It would be silly for anyone to think these two won't be handling the ball 60-70% of the time. Or more. Also, neither one played much in last year's Civil War (Quizz was hurt, and James got hurt early), while James was a key piece of the Beavers 2007 Civil War victory. Quizz is excited for this - he said on his Twitter feed that in two years no game has prompted more "good luck" comments on campus as the 12 days leading up to this one.
Civil War: The Case for Oregon State
While there are reasons the Ducks can win the Rose Bowl, it's not like the Beavers have no chance. Of course not - they wouldn't be in this position if that were true. Here are some reasons the Beavers can show Vegas and many of the media experts wrong: