No. 15 Oregon and Oregon State wrote a dramatic new chapter in their football rivalry on Friday night as the Beavers escaped with a 41-38 victory on a foggy night at Reser Stadium on the Oregon State campus. Backup quarterback Chance Nolan put the Beavers ahead on a quarterback sneak with 33 seconds left on the first snap of his Oregon State career after entering for injured starter Tristan Gebbia.
Oregon State held on and improved to 2-2 when No. 15 Oregon’s last-ditch effort failed in the final seconds. Oregon State players then stormed the field in celebration of their first win in the rivalry since 2016.
Oregon led 24-13 at halftime and 31-19 entering the fourth quarter, but had no answer for the Beavers late as Gebbia and running back Jermar Jefferson propelled an offense that produced 28 points in the second half. Jefferson ran for a pair of touchdowns, and his 226 rushing yards were the most ever by a player in the series. Ultimately, the Ducks defense had no answer and made the College Football Playoff committee look wise for ranking Oregon so low in the debut CFP Rankings released earlier this week.
Some thought the Ducks were underrated at No. 15 in the first batch of rankings after starting 4-0 with three double-digit victories. But after Friday’s loss, whatever meager chance Oregon — and maybe the entire Pac-12, for that matter — had to make the playoff has been erased. That fact surely brought pleasure to Oregon State fans, who had seen their team drop 11 of its last 12 to Oregon entering the night.
Let’s have a look now at a few takeaways from Oregon State’s shocking win over Oregon on Friday.
College Football Playoff dreams crushed
The Ducks were already a long-shot for the CFP with a pair of two-loss Big 12 teams — Oklahoma (No. 11) and Iowa State (No. 13) –coming in ahead of them this week. So to even have an outside chance at making the playoff in the end, Oregon would probably have needed to win its final four games convincingly. Even if the Ducks had pulled out Friday night’s game, it would have been an uninspiring victory unlikely to move them up significantly in the rankings.
USC was the only other Pac-12 team included in the CFP Rankings on Tuesday, and the No. 18 Trojans had their game with Colorado scheduled for this week canceled due to virus issues within their program. So, in essence, Oregon’s loss on Friday simply confirmed that Pac-12 will not have a representative in this year’s College Football Playoff.
Oregon’s defensive woes
The Ducks have not been good at defending the run this season and have struggled with tackling at times. Those issues were exposed to a backbreaking degree on Friday as Jefferson torched the Ducks for a huge game. The 5-foot-10 junior ran averaged just 3.0 yards per carry on 21 attempts against Oregon in 2018 and averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 20 attempts vs. the Ducks last year.
But on Friday he exploded for 7.8 yards per carry, an average that was buoyed significantly by an 82-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that set the tone for the game.
Marquee win for Jonathan Smith
Third-year Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith helped the Beavers improve from one win the season before he arrived to two wins in 2018 during his first season before the program took a significant step forward during a 5-7 campaign last season that included four conference victories. Now, the former Washington offensive coordinator has a marquee victory on his head-coaching resume. The Beavers have won two straight after an 0-2 start and have a chance to finish .500 or better for the first time since 2013.
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