Corvallis, OR - Oregon State has already bounced back from an 0-2 start, knocked off the nation's top-ranked team and in its most recent game kicked a last-second field goal to secure first place in the Pac-10.
Now, it looks like it'll enter one of the biggest games in school history without perhaps its best player.
The No. 17 Beavers can clinch their first Rose Bowl trip in 44 years with a win Saturday in Corvallis, but they'll likely have to get past bitter rival and No. 19 Oregon without the help of star freshman tailback Jacquizz Rodgers.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Oregon State -3 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Oregon +3 (View College Football bet percentages).
Oregon State (8-3, 7-1) was projected to finish fifth in the Pac-10 before the season, and after its first game - an August loss to Stanford - that looked optimistic. The Beavers' chances of being competitive looked even slimmer a week later, when they were throttled 45-14 at Penn State.
Since that loss, though, Oregon State has won eight of nine - including a stunning upset of then top-ranked Southern California - to move to the top of the conference. The Beavers' only blemish in that span was a 31-28 loss at BCS-bound Utah on a field goal as time expired.
Last Saturday at Arizona, Oregon State was on the other side of the same type of finish.
Starting quarterback Lyle Moevao couldn't play due to a shoulder injury, and Rodgers - the Pac-10's leading rusher - was knocked out in the second quarter after hurting his shoulder. However, backup quarterback Sean Canfield moved the Beavers down the field in the final minutes and kicker Justin Kahut atoned for an earlier miss, kicking a 24-yard field goal to give the Beavers a 19-17 win.
"I didn't feel like that was supposed to be the way that our season was going to go down,'' Kahut said. "I didn't want it to be where I lost the game for the team. They worked so hard, and we deserved that win, and I'm just so grateful for that second opportunity.''
With a win over arch-rival Oregon (8-3, 6-2) in the 112th annual Civil War, Oregon State won't just wrap up its first Rose Bowl bid since Jan. 1, 1965 - it'll in all likelihood get a rematch with the No. 6 Nittany Lions.
Should that game take place, Rodgers will likely be on the field, but Saturday at Reser Stadium he almost certainly won't. Rodgers didn't return to Saturday's game with what coach Mike Riley called a second-degree sprain, and Riley said Tuesday that his star runner's status is "very doubtful."
"He is feeling better but we don't want to put him at risk and there might be something with his shoulder that it might not be right for him to play,'' Riley said. "We're not going to put him at risk."
Rodgers has 1,253 rushing yards and is in good position to become the first freshman to win a Pac-10 rushing title. He's averaging 113.9 yards a game, 12th in the nation, and has 11 touchdowns.
Moevao is expected to return, and he'll likely be handing off to senior James Rodgers, Jacquizz's brother. James, listed as a receiver, had 10 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown at Arizona.
He also was the difference-maker in Oregon State's 38-31, double-overtime win at Oregon last season - the Beavers' first victory in Eugene since 1993. James Rodgers had five carries for 45 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown in the second overtime.
With Jacquizz Rodgers' status in doubt, the Beavers will likely try to throw more often. Oregon has the 102nd-ranked pass defense in the nation (253.5 ypg), and it gave up 829 combined passing yards earlier this season in losses to Boise State and USC.
Oregon State senior Sammie Stroughter leads the Pac-10 with 807 receiving yards. He was granted a medical redshirt last season, but caught eight passes for 114 yards in the Beavers' 30-28 win over Oregon in 2006.
The Ducks are no strangers to running the ball, as they rank sixth in the nation with 268.1 yards per game on the ground. They're led by the duo of the speedy Jeremiah Johnson (6.2 yards per carry) and the more powerful LeGarrette Blount (7.2 ypc), who have combined for 15 touchdowns.
Johnson and Rodgers combined for four scores in Oregon's most recent game, a 55-45 win over Arizona on Nov. 15, when quarterback Jeremiah Masoli had a breakthrough performance. The sophomore, who had never thrown for more than 161 yards, went 21-for-26 for 298 yards and two touchdowns against the Wildcats.
"He did a great job of getting the ball around to different people on our offense," Ducks coach Mike Bellotti said. "He had confidence throwing the ball. ... He cut it loose and we caught it."
Prior to Oregon State's victory in Eugene last season, the home team had won the previous 10 meetings in this rivalry. Oregon leads the overall series 55-46-10.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
OKLAHOMA ST is 8-8 against the spread versus OKLAHOMA since 1992
OKLAHOMA is 10-5 straight up against OKLAHOMA ST since 1992
4 of 8 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
OKLAHOMA is 2-0 against the spread versus OKLAHOMA ST over the last 3 seasons
OKLAHOMA is 2-0 straight up against OKLAHOMA ST over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at OKLAHOMA ST since 1992
OKLAHOMA ST is 5-3 against the spread versus OKLAHOMA since 1992
OKLAHOMA is 5-2 straight up against OKLAHOMA ST since 1992
2 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at OKLAHOMA ST over the last 3 seasons.
OKLAHOMA is 1-0 against the spread versus OKLAHOMA ST over the last 3 seasons
OKLAHOMA is 1-0 straight up against OKLAHOMA ST over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[DB] Jonathan Nelson expected to miss 6 weeks - Knee - 09/28/08
[TE] Brody Eldridge is "?". - Ankle - 11/18/08
[WR] Tyler Stradford has left the team. - None - 10/04/08
[DE] Auston English is expected to miss - Knee - 11/16/08
[DE] Alan Davis downgraded to expected to miss. - Knee - 11/18/08
[DE] John Williams is out indefinitely. - Personal - 09/02/08
[LB] Ryan Reynolds out for the season - Knee - 10/11/08
[TE] Eric Mensik is expected to miss at least 4 weeks. - Ankle - 09/24/08
[WR] William Cole will miss entire season - Knee - 08/17/08
[OL] Michael Booker has transferred. - None - 08/20/08
[S] Lucien Antoine is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee - 09
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Posted: 11/25/08 9:17PM ET