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Beaver seniors figure they have a shot at first win over Oregon

CORVALLIS — If the lemon and yellow — or in perhaps more contemporary terms, silver and black — of Oregon turns them nauseous, Oregon State’s players weren’t admitting it Monday as they prepared for Saturday’s noon showdown with the Ducks at Reser Stadium.

The Beavers weren’t letting on if any hatred runs in their veins for their arch-rivals 40 miles to the south.

“I don’t like anybody I play, how about that?” senior offensive tackle Colin Kelly said with a laugh.

Kelly hails from Kelso, Wash., so his roots may have taken over as he continued.

“It’s almost like any rivalry game, like the Apple Cup up north,” Kelly said. “But it’s crazy. In this game, anybody can beat anybody. There’s so much emotion and passion because they are your rival and you want to prove who is better in the state.”

“A rivalry is a rivalry,” senior defensive tackle Andrew Seumalo said. “We’re just excited for the opportunity to play a great team.”

Oregon entered last Saturday’s game against Stanford ranked No. 1 in the country. After a 17-14 overtime loss to the Cardinal, the Ducks are No. 5 and seemingly not so invincible. Does that increase the Beavers’ confidence as they go into Saturday’s matchup?

“They’re an exceptional team,” said Seumalo, oldest son of defensive line coach Joe Seumalo. “They still have all their players, all their weapons. It doesn’t matter what happened last week. It’s about this week.”

But doesn’t facing the Ducks have the senior D-tackle more amped up than for other opponents?

“Whenever it’s your in-state rival, you want to beat them,” Seumalo said. “But it’s not about a rivalry. It’s about trying to get that win Saturday.”

Oregon has won the past four Civil War matchups. Oregon State’s seniors have never beaten the Ducks.

Saturday is their last chance.

“It’s been tough the past three years,” Seumalo allowed. “We have another opportunity. I’m thankful for that.”

Seumalo paused.

“I’m not going to give you anything,” he said.

Jordan Poyer is coming with a little different mindset. Having never experienced victory over the Ducks, the senior cornerback from Astoria said, “is a tough pill to swallow. I’m preparing hard this week and getting ready to play the best game of my career.”

“Being my senior year, it would mean everything to beat them,” Poyer said. “It’s not going to be easy. They’re a great team. I have a lot of respect for them. But we feel it’s possible.”

Poyer believes the 2012 Beavers are better-equipped to beat the Ducks than the three previous OSU teams on which he has played.

“We’re 8-2,” Poyer said. “We’ve had a successful season. Stanford got it done last week. We’ve showed we’re able to do it, too. It’s going to be good for us to watch (the Stanford-UO game video) as far as what (the Cardinal) did to stop (the Ducks).”

Poyer’s grandfather, Lynn Baxter, played basketball at Oregon State in the 1960s, but Poyer was neither a big Beaver fan nor a Duck hater.

“I cheered for both teams,” he said. “I loved the Civil War growing up. I always just wanted it to be a good game.”

As a senior at Astoria High, Poyer attended an Oregon football camp.

“I did terrible,” he said. After that, Oregon coaches “stopped talking to me. Every time we play them, that’s always on my mind.”

Markus Wheaton was an Oregon fan growing up in Chandler, Ariz. His cousin, Kenny Wheaton, had been a star for the Ducks and Markus strongly considered the Eugene school before choosing Oregon State.

So is the Oregon game more important than other games on the schedule?

“Not really,” the senior receiver said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to play (the Ducks) with the situation that we’re in. I’m always super-motivated every game, no matter the opponent.”

But won’t the Beavers be even more charged up to play their arch-rivals?

“I guess you could say that,” Wheaton said, “but we’re not changing anything. We go into every game like it’s a big game. It’s not like we’re working any harder to beat them.”

Does Stanford’s upset give the Beavers more hope to beat Oregon than at any time during Wheaton’s reign at OSU?

“I wouldn’t say that,” Wheaton said. “We always felt we had a great chance to beat them. We’ve just not executed enough to get the victory in the past.

“I feel like we have a very good shot at winning, just like we did the last couple of years. But it depends on who fights the hardest for that victory.”

Wheaton said OSU’s vaunted pass offense will face a stiff test against the Ducks.

“They have a really good defense,” he said. “Their corners are physical, great front, good linebackers — they are very underrated.”

And what would a victory over Oregon mean to Wheaton on a personal basis?

“It means everything to me, right now at this point in my life,” he said.