There wasn’t much to say after Oregon’s staggering 31-28 loss to Arizona State.
The trip from Tempe, Ariz., back to Eugene was as somber as the visiting locker room last Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium.
“That’s as quiet a plane ride as I’ve ever been on, and not by a little,” coach Mario Cristobal said during his Monday news conference. “And you know what, it should be that way. If it wasn’t that way, I’d be really disappointed and I’d say that we got the wrong guys.
“That was the mood.”
The Ducks (9-2, 7-2), who fell out of contention for the College Football Playoff and from No. 6 to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll, had better be in the mood for a rivalry game this week.
Oregon State, which has shown dramatic improvement in Jonathan Smith’s second season rebuilding the dam, would love to walk out of the Civil War with bowl eligibility and bragging rights.
The Beavers (5-6, 4-4) are 3-1 in Pac-12 road games this season and led Washington State 52-42 with 4:17 remaining in the fourth quarter before falling 54-53 last Saturday in Pullman.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jonathan Smith and what he does,” Cristobal said. “He’s an excellent football mind.”
Oregon has won 10 of the past 11 meetings with Oregon State, including the last two by a combined score of 124-25.
The 123rd meeting between the programs will be Saturday at Autzen Stadium (1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell is one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman.
Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown and Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz are the other finalists.
The winner will be announced during the College Football Awards show Dec. 12 in Atlanta.
Sewell grades out as the top offensive lineman in the country, according to Pro Football Focus. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound sophomore leads the Ducks with 52 knockdown blocks and has allowed six quarterback pressures on 403 pass-blocking snaps.
Cristobal said three key starters who suffered injuries against Arizona State — center Jake Hanson, running back CJ Verdell and defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux — are on track to play in the Civil War.
Starting wide receiver Jaylon Redd, who made the trip to Arizona State but was unable to play due to injury, is also probable.
• Justin Herbert will make his final home start Saturday. The senior quarterback already holds the Autzen Stadium record for career touchdown passes with 53 in 22 games.
• The Ducks have a nine-game winning streak at Autzen dating back to 38-31 overtime defeat against Stanford on Sept. 22, 2018.
• In six homes games this season, Oregon has outscored the opposition 245-60, including 127-21 in the second half.
• Oregon State’s last win at Autzen was on Dec. 1, 2007 (38-31, overtime).
“I think my favorite part about Thanksgiving is that we’re practicing and getting ready for a game. What am I, 49? I can’t remember the last time Thanksgiving was here and we weren’t practicing,” Cristobal said. “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, I really wouldn’t. Thank God for that. I think that’s the greatest thing in the world. And we will practice.
“We will practice and give thanks for all our many blessings, and instead of our lunch meal it will be a Thanksgiving spread. “
Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email podcast mailbag questions to email@example.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.