Planning for success: Oregon

November, 27, 2013
11/27/13
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When Oregon hired Mark Helfrich to replace Chip Kelly, the Civil War took on a unique quality.

Both head coaches -- Helfrich and Oregon State's Mike Riley -- grew up in the state and rooted for the teams they now lead. And as much as each would like to continue to preach the it's-just-another-game mentality, their deep understanding of what's at stake on several levels can make it a little tougher this week.

"I grew up in a community (Coos Bay) that was very divided in allegiance and I know what that means," said Helfrich, who declined the opportunity to walk on at both schools. "I was an Oregon fan and certainly there was that back and forth amongst the community that will happen after this game … and you wanted to be on the right side of that for sure."

[+] EnlargeMike Riley
AP Photo/Don RyanMike Riley and Oregon State have been on the losing end of the last five Civil War matchups.
Riley's lens into the rivalry was a bit different.

He moved to Corvallis as an 11-year-old in 1965 when his father, Bud Riley, began an eight-year stint as an assistant coach with the Beavers. Mike never saw an Oregon State loss in the Civil War before he graduated high school and left to play defensive back for Bear Bryant at Alabama in 1971.

Like father, not like son.

Riley's record in his two stints as Oregon State's head coach is 4-8, and the Ducks have won the last five meetings.

"For everyone, the seniors probably especially --- they haven't beat the Ducks -- you could go through reason for reason why this would be a great win," Riley said.

A month ago, this Friday's game had potential to be one of the most anticipated Civil Wars in history. At the end of October, the rivals' combined record was 14-1, and Oregon looked well on its way to showdown with Riley's alma mater in the BCS National Championship.

How quickly things change.

Oregon State (6-5 overall, 4-4 Pac-12) has dropped four straight, including last week's 69-27 debacle against Washington, and the Ducks (9-2, 6-2) are out of the BCS bowl picture altogether thanks to losses at Stanford and Arizona in the last three weeks.

"Our guys are disappointed, they're frustrated," Helfrich said, "but at the same time they have the right type of mindset for bouncing back."

That includes quarterback Marcus Mariota, who could potentially be playing in his final game at Autzen Stadium. After two standout seasons in Eugene, the redshirt sophomore would likely be turning down the opportunity to be a first-round pick if he decided to come back for his junior season.

Mariota said he hasn't put any though into the looming decision.

"Not at all and I'm being truthfully honest," he said. "I'm going to take after the bowl season … I'll go home and talk through this with my family and see what's the best fit for my family."

Less talk has been made about the potential for Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion to make the leap to the NFL, but the nation's passing-yardage leader (4,089) is set to graduate in a few weeks and will also field next-level interest when he leaves the Beavers.

Kyle Bonagura | email

Stanford/Pac-12 reporter

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