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EGGERS: Beavers say they'll be ready

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Rashaad Reynolds (right) makes a tackle for Oregon State in last week's loss to Washington.CORVALLIS -- After Oregon State's Tuesday practice session, I spent time trying to gauge the temperature of the Beavers heading into Friday's Civil War matchup with Oregon at Autzen Stadium.

After speaking with OSU coaches and players, I can say definitively that I have no idea whether the Beavers will be ready to play football against the nation's 13th-ranked team.

For 10 weeks, Oregon State was never perfect but always competitive. Then came last Saturday's debacle against the Huskies at Reser Stadium. No emotion, no execution, no results. As coach Mike Riley puts it, "That's as out of character as I've seen us play -- ever."

The Beavers were saying the right things Tuesday as they prepared for the Ducks.

Some of the players, including juniors Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks, contend it's no bigger than any other game.

"It's a big rivalry game, largely due to the fans and the passion surrounding the game," said Mannion, a transplanted Oregonian with family now in Silverton after a move from Pleasanton, Calif. "I try to treat it like any other game. I don't want to think more about one game than any other."

"Just another game to me," said Cooks, a Stockton, Calif., native. "I know (the Ducks) are a great team and it's a rivalry. They're another team you want to beat.

"We just need a win. I don't care if it's the Ducks or not. I don't look at it like that. I just want to get the win."

Seniors Josh Andrews and Rashaad Reynolds see it a bit differently.

"It's huge -- the biggest game of the year," said Andrews, a guard from Fontana, Calif. "It's what we look forward to every year. I'm aware of the history behind the Civil War. It's one of the best rivalries in the nation. Glad to be a part of it."

"It's our No. 1 rivalry," said Reynolds, a cornerback from Pacoima, Calif. "When you go to Oregon State, you talk about that team down the road. You don't really ever say their name. They probably do the same to us.

"Two teams 45 minutes away from each other, that type of rivalry is going to create some that … not hatred … the word ain't coming to mind, but you know what I'm saying."

Distaste? Sure. Dislike? Probably? Disrespect? No, not even after Oregon's 42-16 meltdown against Arizona last Saturday.

"Knowing that team, they're going to bounce back," Cooks said. "They're not laying down. They have a great defense. (Cornerback Ifo) Ekpre-Olomu is a first-rounder, Terrance Mitchell is another great corner, and their safeties are good. They have a team full of hungry people."

Oregon State's four-game losing streak has left Cooks hungry as well.

"We're on a losing streak," he said. "It don't matter if it's the Ducks or SC. It's important to not keep tallying these losses. I know we'll be ready to fight."

"They're a good team, but I feel like they're beatable," Andrews said. "We've seen that they're beatable. We're going to work as hard as we can to go down there and beat them."

That hasn't happened since 2007.

"They've beaten us five years in a row," Reynolds said. "Right now, we're not having the greatest season. They're having a pretty good season. They look at us like 'little brother.' I don't worry about that. I'm not afraid to play nobody.

"We're going to be ready for this game. When your backs are to the wall, you have to come out swinging."

Oregon State's embarrassing defeat to the Huskies is in the rear-view mirror, the Beavers say.

"Trying to learn from it and forget about it at this point," Mannion said.

"We have to put it behind us, to be honest," Cooks said. "I'm not thinking about it no more. It was ugly. We all know it was ugly. That's all I can say about it."

Mannion and Cooks spoke on the sidelines toward the end of the Washington game.

"We said we felt we have a good thing going here," Mannion said. "If we can right the ship and play our best football, we can still make it a season to be proud of.

"We're on the home stretch. Two games left -- the Civil War and the bowl game. Everyone sees it as two more chances to play our best football."

Oregon's losses to Stanford and Arizona don't provide more hope or inspiration, Mannion offered.

"We go into every game expecting if we play our best football, we can beat anyone," he said. "That's no different for Oregon. Having seen other teams be successful against them gives us some idea what we can try to do schematically.

"But from a mental aspect, we have to go into every game expecting to win, regardless of whether (the opponent has) nine wins or one. If we need to see other teams beat them to feel good about our chances, we're in bad shape."

No player in Oregon State's program has beaten Oregon.

"That's one of the biggest things I want to say I did when I leave Oregon State, that I beat the Ducks," Reynolds said. "Going into this week, I feel good about it. I'm ready to go to war one last time."

Would it mean more to beat the Ducks at Autzen?

"It'd be good to beat them anywhere," Reynolds said, smiling. "We could play them in the Truax Center."

"It would be special for our seniors," Cooks said. "And not just for them, but for the program. It's about everyone. We're doing this for everyone on the team and the coaching staff. I'm excited about the opportunity to go down there and take care of some business."

The Ducks claim to take the Civil War as equal to any game on their schedule. Even so, there are orange Beaver mascots adorning trash cans adjacent to the UO Football Center this week. And they'll be singing their X-rated version of Oregon State's fight song at some point after practice.

"I heard about the trash cans," Reynolds said. "Didn't know about the fight song. That's their prerogative. They can do whatever they want. It's funny to me.

"We don't do all the extra stuff. We're just going to prepare for our last (regular-season) game. What better way to go out than to beat the Ducks?"

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