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Originally published Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 7:18 PM

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Bud Withers

Oregon State will be looking for answers against Oregon's high-scoring offense

Beavers and Ducks play on Dec. 3 with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.

Seattle Times colleges reporter

Mike Stoops, the Arizona coach, couldn't bring himself to watch tape of his team's 44-41 overtime loss to Oregon the other night, so the Wildcats didn't.

"That's different for us," Stoops said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, they have to have looked at a lot of video in the football offices in Corvallis, where Oregon State coaches have no doubt already spent days, if not weeks, trying to brainstorm an antidote for the Oregon offense.

All that's at stake on Dec. 3 is the Rose Bowl, which would be OSU's first since the 1964 season and the Ducks' first since 1994.

Last year, with a better defense than this season and a Rose Bowl berth on the line, the Beavers went splat at Reser Stadium, losing 65-38.

"They ran the ball, they threw the ball, they did anything they wanted to," said Mike Riley, the OSU coach.

Riley acknowledged that he and his coaches "tried to study [Oregon] in the offseason," not only to divine more answers about the Ducks, but to sort out principles of the spread-option offense.

The respective coaches come into the game with vastly different backgrounds — and perhaps appreciations — of the significance of the matchup. Riley grew up in Corvallis, and his dad Bud was a respected defensive coordinator at OSU and later in Canadian football. Bud Riley's exit for Canada early in the 1970s was an early factor in the tumble of the program toward an NCAA-record 28-year streak of losing seasons.

"I look at it, for me personally, as a privilege," said Riley. "I never envisioned coaching the Beavers in a game like this."

Oregon's Chip Kelly, on the other hand, is a Northeasterner, with Oregon since only 2007. And his take on the game probably doesn't stoke the imagination of longtime Oregonians.

"Every game we play is the Super Bowl for us," Kelly says. "The USC game was the Super Bowl, the Cal game was the Super Bowl, the Arizona game was the Super Bowl. If we didn't look at it that way, we wouldn't be in the situation we're in.

"We don't need anybody to tell us how important the game is."

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Hold that thought

Initially, the idea was to pick an All-Pac-10 team in this space. But after further review ... how exactly do you do that with the implications of the Civil War in eight days?

Some all-league picks, especially at the skill positions, should be provocative. If you assume Stanford's Toby Gerhart is a given at running back, who's the other one — Oregon's LaMichael James or OSU's Jacquizz Rodgers, each of them 1,300-yard backs?

Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli and OSU's Sean Canfield would appear to be waging a tight race for all-conference quarterback. Give it to the guy whose team wins the game.

Ditto for coach of the year — Riley or Kelly.

The bowl roll

The Pac-10 bowl outline, still in flux as USC and Arizona each have two games left and Cal one:

Rose: Oregon or Oregon State.

Holiday: Oregon if OSU wins. If Oregon wins, USC, provided Trojans win out.

Sun: Cal or Arizona. Cal has never played in the Sun.

Las Vegas: Oregon State if it loses the Civil War.

Emerald: Stanford.

Poinsettia: Arizona.

And what's more ...

• WSU ought to get help from the Pac-10 in ensuring that it doesn't host games on the Saturday starting Thanksgiving break, unless it's the Apple Cup. The league ought to recognize that the school is unique with a small local population, drained that day by the exodus of students. There's precedent: Arizona State has gotten some favors in not scheduling Sunday afternoon basketball games because of a significant Mormon population nearby.

• Last in the league in interceptions? That would be USC, with six.

• UCLA's Kai Forbath has hit 35 straight field goals inside 50 yards over two seasons.

• Oregon has to be happy QB Nate Costa decided to stick with football after three serious knee operations. That was Costa, the holder, who dug out a bad point-after snap Saturday night that was about to cost the Ducks the chance to go to overtime. Costa was Pac-10 special teams player of the week.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

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About Bud Withers

Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-10.
bwithers@seattletimes.com | 206-464-8281

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