CORVALLIS — Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith isn’t much for hyperbole, and he’s certainly not going to divert from character during Civil War week.
Smith’s comments leading into Oregon game week were heavy on talk about preparation and detail, with just a dash of what the rivalry means.
“I’m not trying to downplay the emotion of the game. There’s some celebration, rivalry. I get it,” Smith said. “But even from my playing days, you have to play a quality football game to win the football game. The preparation needs to be pretty consistent leading up to it.”
The stakes haven’t changed from a week ago, when Oregon State (5-6, 4-4 Pac-12) needed one win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013. If the Beavers beat the Ducks, they’ll join seven other Pac-12 bowl eligible teams.
The odds say it’s a tall task. The Beavers have won one Civil War since 2007, and are 19-point underdogs to Oregon (1 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
Oregon (9-2, 7-1) presents the kind of problem Oregon State had trouble handling against Utah and Washington, the Beavers’ most one-sided losses this season. The Ducks are physical at a level of the Utes and Huskies, opponents where OSU had trouble blocking, protecting the quarterback, and in the case of Utah, tackling.
“We do need to match the physicality,” Smith said.
“Oregon, you look at the two lines, they have really good players and do a really good job.”
Senior receiver Trevon Bradford skipped last Saturday’s game against Washington State in order to play his fourth and final 2019 game against Oregon.
Bradford, who missed the season’s first seven games with a foot injury, can play in no more than four games in order to make this a redshirt season and return in 2020. Bradford played against Arizona, Washington and Arizona State.
It wasn’t decided until hours before the Beavers played Washington State that Bradford would rest against the Cougars. When it became apparent Kolby Taylor’s calf injury was healed and he would return to action, Oregon State was able to pull Bradford from action.
Bradford’s interest in playing against Oregon is simple: he grew up in Oregon City.
“If he was going to choose between one game or the other, he wanted to play in this game,” Smith said. “We were healthy at his spot, so we felt good about it.”
The Beavers had their season’s worst performance at getting in the backfield and pressuring the quarterback against Washington State. OSU had one sack and two tackles for loss.
Some of it was the Cougars, who are as capable at protecting their quarterback as any Pac-12 team. But another factor was a wrist injury to Hamilcar Rashed Jr., who came into last Saturday’s game as the nation’s leader in sacks and tackles for loss.
Rashed Jr. played but was ineffective, as he had trouble using his cast-protected left arm.
Will another week of getting used to the club on his left arm help Rashed?
“We’re hopeful,” Smith said. “It hurt Ham not being able to use that hand and have the confidence to go. He’s been awesome all year. You’re going to have games where you play at a higher level. We’re confident he’ll be able to go Saturday and play well.”