Oregon State hasn’t defeated Oregon since 2007.
In the seven years since, the programs have gone in entirely opposite directions. The Chip Kelly era took the Ducks to new heights as they appeared in four BCS bowls, including one national championship game. The Beavers, on the other hand, have been inconsistent. 9-4 records in 2008 and 2012 have been their best seasons in recent memory, but they’ve only appeared in four bowls over that seven year stretch and haven’t reached a BCS game since 2000.
This year’s Civil War contest pits a 10-1 Oregon team against a 5-6 Oregon State team. While the Ducks are fighting to stay in the College Football Playoff race, the Beavers are just trying to earn eligibility for a bowl game.
But none of that will matter in today’s contest. If you’ve followed the Civil War prior to the Ducks’ current six game win streak, you know how important this rivalry game is historically to both teams, their fans and their schools.
Remember in 2009 when the game was deemed “The War of the Roses,” because the winner was guaranteed a spot in the Rose Bowl? It was Chip Kelly’s first season as Ducks head coach, and they were able to squeeze out a 37-33 win at Autzen Stadium. In the entire history of the Civil War, there had never been a game in which a win for either side carried such important postseason implications. At the time, it felt like a preview of neck-and-neck battles to come. But as the Ducks took several big steps forward in their program in successive seasons, the Beavers took several steps back.
Although the Ducks have been dominant in their current six game streak, it’s actually not the longest winning streak in the history of the series. Both Oregon (1975-82) and Oregon State (1964-71) won eight consecutive games during those years. Despite each team’s near decade of dominance though, the intensity of the rivalry persevered.
Going into today’s matchup, there is a certain expectation that the game will not be close and therefore somewhat anticlimactic. The Ducks are favored by a little under three touchdowns and figure to overwhelm the Beavers easily. The Beavers, though, would love nothing more than to ruin the Ducks’ chances of getting into the College Football Playoff, so don’t expect any lack of motivation on either side.
The Ducks were supposedly going to run over an inferior Beavers squad last year as well, but they barely escaped with a thrilling 36-35 victory in Eugene.
Ducks fans don’t want to hear that today’s game could turn into a barn-burner, but there have been several instances in the history of the Civil War where the underdog spoiled the favorite’s season. Not saying that it will happen today, but anything is possible; which is what makes this rivalry game so intriguing.
No matter if you’re a diehard Duck fan or just a fan of college football in general, the Civil War rarely disappoints. Despite the Ducks’ recent dominance, this annual game still remains by far the biggest football game played in the state of Oregon. The Civil War tradition is still going strong and will continue to as long as these two schools have football teams. Today’s game in Corvallis will be no different.
Feature Photo by Kevin Cline