CORVALLIS, Ore. — After Oregon’s loss to Stanford last weekend, running back Kenjon Barner figured there were three ways for the Ducks to respond in the Civil War against Oregon State.
“You can let it define you, destroy you or strengthen you,” Barner said. “With this team, every loss we’ve taken in the past, it’s strengthened us, made us stronger. Looking back on Stanford, it was a loss. We knew what we had to do to get back on the winning track, and we did it.”
Barner ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns — despite leaving the game for a time with what he called a minor injury — and No. 5 Oregon defeated No. 16 Oregon State 48-24 in the Civil War.
The victory initially kept the Ducks (11-1, 8-1) alive for a spot in the Pac-12 title game, but Stanford defeated UCLA 35-17 later Saturday night to clinch the league’s northern division.
Stanford’s 17-14 overtime victory over the Ducks last Saturday meant that both teams finished the regular season with just one conference loss, but the Cardinal (10-2, 8-1) claimed the head-to-head matchup to advance to the championship game — a rematch with the Bruins — next Friday.
The Civil War ended shortly before the game between Stanford and UCLA started. Barner wasn’t planning to watch it.
“I’m going to enjoy this win, have fun with my family that’s here and find out tomorrow what the situation is,” he said. “I’d rather not watch.”
It was Oregon’s fifth straight victory in the 116-game rivalry series with the Beavers.
While the Civil War is normally the season finale for both teams, Oregon State (8-3, 6-3) will host Nicholls State next Saturday in a matchup that was supposed to open the season but was put off when Hurricane Isaac bore down on the Colonels’ Thibodaux, La., campus.
The Beavers will have to wait to find out where they’re headed for a bowl game, but already their season can be counted a success after they went just 3-9 last year.
Barner appeared to hurt either his abdomen or ribs late in the first half and headed to the locker room. He returned after the break, but much of the work went to De’Anthony Thomas until he returned on a scoring drive that made it 41-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Barner would only describe the injury as minor.
Thomas finished with 122 yards rushing and three scores. Oregon redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota threw for 140 yards and a score, and also ran for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Sean Mannion threw for 311 yards and a late touchdown for the Beavers but was intercepted four times. Storm Woods rushed for 70 yards and two scores.
Mannion started the first four games of the season, throwing seven touchdowns and averaging 339 yards, but injured his left knee and required surgery. Vaz, who hadn’t started since high school, took over and helped the Beavers to win in the next two games, and later became the team’s starter.
But Vaz sprained his left ankle in the final moments of a loss to Stanford two weeks ago, and sat out last Saturday during Oregon State’s 64-14 victory at home over California. Mannion got the nod for the Civil War.
“We have another opponent and we don’t have time to pout and feel sorry for ourselves,” Mannion said. “Nicholls State is going to come in here and try to beat us, and we have to prepare accordingly. I think it will be a good thing because I know everyone is hurting about this one, especially the seniors.
Attendance was 47,249 fans, a Reser Stadium record.
Oregon put the Stanford loss behind them by striking quickly on their first possession with Mariota’s 42-yard keeper. The touchdown drive took just 1:46, but the Ducks’ 2-point try to cap it off failed.
The Beavers took a 7-6 lead on Woods’ 7-yard touchdown run, but the Ducks answered on the next series with Thomas’ 2-yard TD dash. Barner added a 1-yard scoring run before he was hurt.
Stanford held Barner to 66 yards the week before, but he had 141 yards before halftime against the Beavers. With his first 15 yards rushing Saturday, he moved past Derek Loville (1986-89) for second on Oregon’s career rushing list.
Trevor Romaine kicked a 36-yard field goal to narrow it to 20-10 at halftime and the Beavers pulled closer with Woods’ 2-yard scoring run on their first series of the second half.
It was all Ducks the rest of the way. Thomas scored on a 6-yard run to extend Oregon’s lead to 27-17, before the Ducks capitalized on a Beaver fumble that led to Thomas’ 29-yard touchdown run. Barner returned with his 1-yard run and Mariota found B.J. Kelley with a 2-yard touchdown pass.
Mannion hit Micah Hatfield with a 6-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left for the final margin.
While Barner was spending time with his family, Oregon coach Chip Kelly was going to be watching Saturday night to see what happened elsewhere in the Pac-12 and beyond.
“You got to pay attention,” Kelly said. “You got to know if you’re practicing tomorrow.”
Even though the Ducks are missing out on the Pac-12 championship game, there is a good chance that at 11-1 they will be an at-large bid for a BCS bowl game.
The Ducks hold a 60-46-10 advantage in the Civil War which began in 1894 and is the seventh-most contested rivalry in the nation.
It was the fourth time that both teams were ranked for the Civil War. The last was in 2009, when Oregon was No. 7 and Oregon State was No. 13. That game was dubbed the “War of the Roses” because the winner was guaranteed a Rose Bowl berth. Oregon won 37-33.