Last year's Civil War was determined by the run game.
Oregon State pushed around the Oregon defensive front and came away with a 34-24 win.
The Ducks led 24-14 but the Beavers went to Ryan Nall for the final three scores. Nall rushed for 155 yards and four touchdowns and OSU finished with 310 yards on the ground.
It was UO's Achilles' heel all season. The Ducks ranked 11th in the Pac-12 against the run, giving up 246.5 yards a game and a league-worst 38 touchdowns on the ground.
Stopping the run was a point of emphasis for first-year coach Willie Taggart and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt when they took over during the offseason.
Change was sudden and drastic. Oregon now is third in the conference against the run, allowing 132.8 yards a game. The Ducks are fourth in total defense.
"Their key focal point was to stop the run because last year they were ranked super low and this year they're ranked up in the top 30 or something like that," Nall said. "So we've got to expect that (Oregon will try) to stop the run especially against us because they know that Oregon State, our staple is to run the ball. So going into this game we've just got to know that and be able to make people miss."
A prime example of Oregon's improvement against the run came last week against Arizona.
Khalil Tate had been running through Pac-12 defenses all season, including a 206-yard, two-touchdown performance against OSU two weeks ago.
Oregon shut down Tate, holding him to 32 yards on 14 carries in a 48-28 win.
"They've got good personnel up there. They can stop the run and philosophically that's what they're geared toward doing," OSU co-offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven said. "They did a great job against Khalil Tate, kind of boxing him in there and where they played him maybe a little bit differently because of what Arizona does with him, but not a whole lot. They're a run-stop first defense and they've done a good job with it this year."
McGiven said the Ducks don't use a lot of movement on defense and stay fairly steady in their assignments.
"There's some pressures in their package and a couple front variations, but it's a little bit of what you see is what you get," McGiven said. "It's a defense that is geared toward stopping the run and playing man coverage on the outside, which is what we're pretty accustomed to seeing just with the way teams have tried to defend us anyway."
The Ducks can also get after the passer. They have 32 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries.
Defensive lineman Jalen Jelks leads the team with 6.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Linebacker Justin Hollins has 8.5 tackles for loss.
Linebacker Troy Dye, the Pac-12 player of the week this past week, leads the team with 95 total tackles. He also has four sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.
"Obviously, right now their star defensive player is Troy Dye. He's a middle linebacker. He's all over the place. He's a good linebacker," Nall said. "He's a true sophomore and last year he started as a true freshman and was playing tremendous. So he's kind of their guy on defense. And they're pretty strong up front, strong seven, and I think that they're athletic as well."
To counter the Oregon defense, the Beavers need to get going on offense much sooner than they did in the last two games.
"The biggest challenge is going to be to start fast," interim coach Cory Hall said. "We've had two second halfs when we've come out and moved the ball and it's been pretty hard to stop us. And so looking at that defense, we're just going to have to make our plays. We're going to have to be consistent and confident.
"We have to execute and we have to hit the ground running, I mean fast and not wait to feel things out. The Oregon defense, they are who they are. They have their holes just like any other defense has holes, so we just have to put together a plan that will take advantage of the things that they're allowing us to take advantage of in that defense."