The Civil War is one of the most historic and heated college football rivalries in the NCAA. It may lack the pizazz and national attention of, let’s say, a Michigan vs Ohio State rivalry game, but this end-of-season matchup has been marked on the calendars of football fans in the Northwest for decades.
A strong argument can be made that the rivalry between the Ducks and the Beavers has become increasingly competitive, and relevant, in the world of college football since the turn of the 21st century. You know what? It has.
The Civil War game, as of late, has been one of the featured Pac-12 games of the season. This will be the fifth straight year where the outcome will hold BCS implications. There are shades of the 2008 Civil War, when the Ducks marched into Corvallis and beat the Beavers out of a Rose Bowl birth, or the 2009 game that gave fans an epic high-stakes winner-take-all football classic. Beaver fans have tried to block out the pain from that loss, while Ducks fans have been able to boast for years now as they watch their high-powered offense rack up points, and wins.
So what does this game mean nowadays? Well right now it’s a must-win game for our Ducks and an all too familiar spoiler role for the Beavers. However, expect to see something unlike the last two years where the Beavers served as the final stepping-stone in the Ducks’ path to a BCS appearance. The question wasn’t if they would win, it was by how much.
Let it be said that no Duck fan should complain about past seemingly “guaranteed” victories, but no Duck fan should be ridiculed for wanting the “old” Civil War back. The kind of game where the trash talk between fans starts in early October. The kind of game that goes down to the wire and gives everyone a big knot in their stomach. And most importantly, the kind of game that shows the rest of the nation that there is some serious football going on up here in Oregon.
With the re-emergence of the Beavers (8-2, 15th in the BCS), expect to see this type of “classic” match-up once again. Another one of these games could do great things for the state of Oregon and Pac-12 football on the national landscape.
All knowledgeable Duck and Beaver fans should have been wishing the other team well up to now. Why? Because when both teams are winning and climbing up the rankings, there is a marked boost in morale and pageantry. Everything is more fun and entertaining. Football is the talk around the towns, fans have their game day flags up all week long, and everybody is looking forward to their respective teams’ Saturday game.
While the entertainment effect is key, it is equally important to consider how having two top-25 teams makes the state look. Oregon has already made its national mark with the fast offense, flashy uniforms, loud fans, etc. But if Oregon State can prove itself to be a national contender (as it has a couple times in the past), who can deny that the ol’ state of Oregon is one of the most talented states in all of college football?
And Duck fans, let’s be honest — beating a ranked Beaver team this week would be not only extremely satisfying, but it would give more validity to the Ducks being a national powerhouse, and hush the critics who call Oregon a gimmicky offense that can’t win outside of the Pac-12.
This epic matchup took a bit of a hit after both teams went down to Stanford, but we still have two top-25 teams kicking off in a mere 5 days. The time is now.
Oregon State’s 6-0 start, top-25 ranking, and talented squad were a surprise to everyone, Beaver fans included. How could this kind of start be expected after an off-season of injuries and “hot seat” talk about Mike Riley? Despite their flaws and two losses, they’ve proved themselves to be a dangerous team and have been interesting to watch this season.
As far as the Ducks, well, you already know about the Ducks. The offense has gained momentum all season, the defense has remained intact despite countless injuries, and things are lining up nicely for the Ducks in route to a fourth straight BCS appearance. Chip Kelly wouldn’t even acknowledge any other game besides the Civil War, but Duck fans should keep an eye out for the Stanford-UCLA game. If Stanford wins, Oregon doesn’t go to the Pac-12 championship. It’s as simple as that. But if UCLA wins, then we get to host the Bruins in Autzen with the Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl birth on the line. Now how sweet is that?
The glorious “natty” might be out of reach after losing to Stanford, but keep your spirits high. Five years ago, any Duck fan would have salivated at a chance to take on a top-10 team on national television. So let’s not slight the Rose Bowl, and if the stars align, prove to the nation that the Ducks are still a force to be reckoned with, and will be back in the national title hunt in 2013.
I, along with most Duck fans, have complete confidence that Oregon can come in and roll over the Beavers, no problem. But that is beside the point. The Civil War never went away, but a highly anticipated match-up between the two teams in 2012 could be just what this rivalry needs to establish itself as a marquee game year in and year out.