Reveling in Oregon Rivalries: Oregon State Beavers

Pat Pannu History

In all sports, rivalries are an essential part of what makes a sport fun to watch or participate in.  Whether its the Dodgers-Giants rivalry in MLB, the Lakers-Celtics in the NBA or the 49ers-Rams in the the NFL, rivalries are an important part of sports.

The Oregon Ducks have their own share of rivalries, some with a storied history, while others are more recent.  No matter how long the rivalry has existed, the rivalry makes the week of the game, that much more fun.

Oregon — Oregon State

Card commemorating the 1908 Civil War Game.

Card commemorating the 1908 Civil War Game.

The “Civil War” is one of the oldest rivalries in the college football world.  It started in 1894 and has been played 117 times as of the 2013 football season, which makes it the seventh- most contested rivalry in the NCAA.  The rivalry will rise in its ranking, as several above it are no longer played, and it is very doubtful that the Ducks and Beavers will ever stop playing each other.

The first game in the series was won by what was then known as Oregon Agriculture College, 16-0, though overall the Ducks lead the series 61-46-10.  Since the series started, the game wasn’t played only five years (1900, 1901, 1911, 1943 and 1944) and there were two years (1896 and 1945) when it was played twice.

When the rivalry first started, it was called the “Oregon Classic” or the “State Championship Game” and was called the “Civil War” for the first time in 1929, though it did not become the ‘official unofficial’ title until 1937.

1918 Civil War Game

1918 Civil War Game

The  location of the game is determined by the year, as most even-numbered year games have been played at home field of Oregon State and odd-numbered years have been played at the home field of the University of Oregon.

Throughout the series history, only nine games have been played at a place other than either university’s campus.  Seven of those games were played at Multnomah Stadium (now known as Providence Park) in Portland (1908, 1917, 1933, 1934, 1938, 1950 and 1952).  The other two games were played at neutral sites in 1912 and 1913 to try to prevent rioting, which had followed the 1910 game.

Throughout the series’ history, there have been many games that have become memorable for one reason or another.  The 1910 contest between the teams ended in a 12-0 victory for the Ducks in Corvallis.

Following the game, fans from both teams began throwing verbal spars at each other, leading to a valid fear of riots.  In Eugene, the UO publicity department gave stories of the Beavers’ hooliganism to the statewide press while leaving out all Duck fan involvement.

Oregon State students, angry at a perceived lack of respect, severed all athletic ties to the University of Oregon, leading to a suspended game in 1911.  The anger and response by both universities and their students led to the relationship between the two schools deteriorating to the point that the student bodies couldn’t tolerate one another.

Oregon vs. Oregon State 1941 football program

Oregon vs Oregon State — 1941 Football Program

In what was then the largest crowd ever for the series, the 1933 game was played at Multnomah Stadium, Portland, in front of 32,183 spectators.  Coming into the game, both teams were undefeated and stood a chance of going to the Rose Bowl with a win.

Oregon State scored first, but after that it was all Oregon Ducks, who were led by “Iron Mike” Mikulak en route to a 13-3 victory.  The Ducks ended up winning a share of the PCC championship but lost out on the bid to the Rose Bowl to Stanford.

There were great games or at least games with a lot of expectations in 1957, 1959 and 1969.  In 1983, the two teams played in what is not-so-affectionately known at the “Toilet Bowl.”  The game was held during a rainstorm and both teams were having a very mediocre season which was evidenced by the 11 fumbles, five interceptions and four missed field goals and ended in a scoreless tie.

As most Duck historians know, this Civil War became the last NCAA Division I football game to end in a scoreless tie.

1987 brought the largest margin of victory by either team when Oregon, led by QB Bill Musgrave, beat Oregon State 44-0.  In 1988, the Beavers hadn’t won a Civil War game in 13 years and Oregon Coach Rich Brooks hadn’t lost a Civil War game in 21 attempts.  Both these streaks were broken when the Beavers came into the game with a vengeance and posted a solid 21-10 victory.

1928 Oregon Football Schedule

1928 Oregon Football Schedule

In 1994, the Ducks just needed to get past the Beavers to reach their first Rose Bowl in 37 years.  In one of the most hostile crowds ever seen at Parker Stadium (predecessor of Reser Stadium) and the Ducks trailed 13-10 in the fourth quarter.

Danny O’Neil, the Duck’s quarterback led a 70-yard drive that resulted in a 19-yard pass to Dino Philyaw to give them the 17-13 win and a visit to the Rose Bowl.

The 1998 Civil War ended in a 44-41 win for Oregon State in double overtime, the first time a Civil War game ended in overtime.  In 2000, Oregon was ranked No. 5 in the country and Oregon State was No. 8, making it the first time both teams were ranked in the top 10 at the same time.

If Oregon won, they were guaranteed a spot in the Rose Bowl, while Oregon State needed a win to force a tie in the Pac-10 to have any hope of getting the bid.  Oregon State won the game 23-13 but were denied the Rose Bowl bid in lieu of Washington’s win over Washington State that same day.

The very next year, the Duck’s came into the game needing a win to secure their first outright Pac-10 conference title since 1994 and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl while Oregon State needed a win to have a winning season.

Though the Beavers initially took a lead, Oregon rallied at the beginning of the second half and won 17-14. In only the second double-overtime game in the series, Oregon State won 38-31 in 2007.

The Civil War games in 2008 and 2009 had the most at stake for both teams.  In 2008, the Beavers needed a win to get a bid to their first Rose Bowl in 44 years but were denied when the Ducks blew them away with a 65-38 win. Oregon set Civil War records for the most points scored by one team and the most total points scored.

The Duck living it up at Reser Stadium in 2012

The Duck living it up at Reser Stadium in 2012.

2009 brought the “War for the Roses” and had both teams coming into the game with a guarenteed Rose Bowl berth with a win.

In a back and forth game that was a nail bitter to the end, the Ducks won 37-33 and appeared in their first Rose Bowl since back in 1995.  In the history of the series, it was the first time the winner was set to appear in the Rose Bowl.

A year later, the Ducks went into Reser Stadium needing a win to secure a spot in the BCS Championship game, while the Beavers, at 5-6, needed a win to become bowl eligible.

With ESPN’s College GameDay on hand for the first time in Corvallis, the Ducks sailed past the Beavers, 37-20 and a spot against Auburn in the National Championship.

In 2013, in a impossibly close game, the Ducks won on a last-second Mariota-to-Huff connection for the TD and the win  36-35.

Win streaks in the series have been rare and both teams have had eight-win steaks in the past. Oregon is currently on a six-game win streak (2008-2013) and has the Platypus Trophy.

The Civil War is one of the best and oldest rivalries in the country and will stand the test of time — book it.

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