Portland State University closes its tumultuous football season Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at PGE Park against UC-Davis. The Vikings are already guaranteed a .500 record, as the team sits at 6-3 with only one game left. It’s a stark and impressive turnaround from the 4-7 mark they compiled last year, when injuries crippled them. Though many current starters including Joe Wiser and Ryan Fuqua will be graduating, the Viks have some young talent to work with and the future looks bright. So why is the Viking-Aggie football game scheduled to kick off at 12:30 on Saturday instead of the usual later start of 7 p.m.?
The answer is simple. At 4 p.m., the entire state (and much of the nation) will have their butts glued to their sofas to watch one of the most meaningful Oregon-Oregon State Civil War games in the history of the 108 match-ups between the viscous rivals. Both teams sit at a mediocre 5-5 and the winner of Saturday’s game at Reser Stadium in Corvallis will claim a piece of the postseason by snagging a bowl berth. The loser gets to go home and think about all that could have been.
There are plenty of could haves too mull over too, on both sidelines. The Ducks should have been better this year, and they’ve given away some very winnable games. They dropped a gimme against Indiana to start the season and lost to Cal at Berkley by a point after leading most of that game just two weeks ago. Without those two losses, not to mention a pathetic performance at home last Saturday against the Bruins, the Ducks would be up two or three games in the win column and their season wouldn’t need saving this weekend.
Likewise, Oregon State has had its own problems. The now infamous season opening loss at LSU, when Beavers kicker Alexis Serna failed to convert on multiple PAT chances, handed the Tigers a one point overtime win. The game sent the Beavers into a tailspin and destroyed them mentally. Out of their next four contests they won only once.
For the Ducks to have a chance to break that cycle, they must reclaim some of the defensive prowess (especially the D-line) that they were lauded for earlier in the year. They’ve given up huge plays in consecutive games and unsurprisingly both games were losses. If the defense gives them some help, Oregon’s shifty offense should be able to get the job done. Oregon native Kellen Clemens is a quarterback who makes few mistakes with the ball. He’s athletic and willing to tuck the ball under and run when he sees an opening, which has led to over 400 yards rushing for the junior from Burns HS. Terrance Whitehead and his 5.7 yard per carry average will balance out the attack on the ground.
For Oregon State to succeed, they must have a big, mistake free game from their own Oregonian QB, Scappoose resident Derek Anderson. Anderson has put up big yards and big numbers in his Beavers career, but he has the same problem PSU QB Joe Wiser struggles with. Too often he puts the ball in the hands of the wrong team, instead of his own receivers. If he can come up big Oregon’s much-abused secondary will struggle mightily and Oregon State might win. The advantage of playing in Corvallis could come into play for the Beavers. In the last seven years, the home team hasn’t lost a game. Tune to FSN at 4 p.m. on Saturday to see whether the Ducks can invade Reser Stadium and claim the win or if the Beavers can find a way to hold serve at home.