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Rivalry game questions: Will Bo Nix be ready to go? Can the Ducks slow down Damien Martinez?

Oregon and Oregon State meet Saturday at Reser Stadium in one of the oldest rivalries in college football.
Credit: Associated Press
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix and Oregon State running back Damien Martinez.

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon and Oregon State renew their 128-year-old rivalry this Saturday at Reser Stadium in Corvallis and for the first time since 2012, both teams are ranked heading into the game.

Oregon (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) is ranked No. 10 and Oregon State (8-3, 5-3) is ranked No. 22. This is only the fifth time in the history of the rivalry that both teams enter the game ranked, according to the Associated Press.

Aside from bragging rights for the next year, there's a little extra on the line in the rivalry game this season for Oregon. If the Ducks beat the Beavers, they earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against No. 5 USC (10-1, 8-1).

Last week, the Ducks had their best defensive performance of the season in a gritty 20-17 win against then-No. 10 Utah. Oregon's defense had three interceptions and allowed just 4.41 yards per play.

The Ducks' offense, which ranks fourth in the country in points per game at 40.2, was limited against the Utes with injured quarterback Bo Nix (ankle) not at full strength. He threw for 287 yards and a touchdown but lacked the mobility that's made him such a dangerous, multi-faceted threat this season. Against Utah, Nix rushed only two times for negative-3 yards and no scores, well below his season averages of 7.4 rushes, 46.2 yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game.

The 20 points scored by the offense was the lowest output for the Ducks since they scored three points in the loss to Georgia to start the season.

Nix's status for the rivalry game remains unclear. Ducks head coach Dan Lanning didn't reveal much about Nix's health in comments to the media Monday, saying the team's medical staff will "keep evaluating as we get closer" to Saturday's game.

If Nix can't go or is limited, Oregon will need its defense to again carry the load this weekend in Corvallis. The Beavers are averaging 31.9 points per game and have received an offensive boost from freshman running back Damien Martinez, who has five consecutive 100-yard rushing games. Over the past five games, Martinez is averaging 127.8 yards per game and has five touchdowns.

On Monday, Lanning praised the Beavers' rushing attack, which averages 4.8 yards per carry and 192.9 yards per game.

"They've done a good job, they have more rushing attempts than anybody else in the conference, game in and game out, and they do a good job of running the ball," he said. "They're committed to it. And they're able to find extra hats at the point of attack. So we're gonna have to have some guys win some one on ones and then do a great job tackling when they get the opportunity."

The game starts at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and airs on ABC.

History of the rivalry

In 2012, the last time the two teams were ranked going into the rivalry game, No. 5 Oregon doubled up No. 15 Oregon State, 48-24, behind dominant performances from quarterback Marcus Mariota and running backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas. Mariota threw for 140 yards and a score and ran for 85 yards and a touchdown, Barner rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns and Thomas ran for 122 yards and three scores.

It hasn't been the most competitive rivalry of late. The Beavers have only two wins against the Ducks since 2007. The recent stretch of Ducks dominance was preceded by a more balanced period, between 1988 and 2007, when the Ducks won 11 times and the Beavers nine.

The rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State began in 1894. It's the fifth-most played rivalry in the nation and the teams have played annually without interruption since 1945. Oregon leads the series 67-48-10.

The game used to be known as the Civil War until 2020 when both schools agreed to no longer use that name because of its connection to slavery and the division of America.

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