Oregon State: The Rivalry Trap

Darren Perkins Editorials 67 Comments

Of course, I hope I’m wrong.

The Ducks have (for the most part) dominated the Beavers over the past decade, so like any green-blooded Oregon fan, I’d like to see the carnage continue. But the Ducks have played with fire so far this season by slipping and stumbling past supposedly lesser opponents in Stanford, WSU, and UCLA. A revamped offense and notable opt outs are sure contributors to the Ducks’ underwhelming start. Yet the outstanding recruiting classes that head coach Mario Cristobal has contributed to the program should be able to get it done against said lesser programs.

Unfortunately when the Beavers check the Ducks’ tape from a week ago, they’re going to see a team that couldn’t run the football effectively, a special teams unit that was mistake-ridden, and a defensive unit that couldn’t play consistently down the stretch.

But above all that, the most dangerous thing the Beavers will see? Hope.

As they smell Duck blood in the water, the Beavers are going to perhaps be more confident than they’ve ever been since the 2016 Oregon meltdown in Corvallis to close out the Mark Helfrich era. Beavers head coach Jonathan Smith would love nothing more than to poach a win against the state’s glamour program that is loaded with four-star and five-star talent, and ruin any chance (albeit against seemingly insurmountable odds) at a playoff bid in this condensed season.

Kevin Cline

Beavs HC Jonathan Smith shakes hands following a 24-10 loss in 2019

Conversely, hopefully the Ducks will take the OSU game as an opportunity to step-up and live-up to their talent and expectations. Knowing that they are the superior program recruiting, coaching, and talent wise, it’s time to put on their big-boy pants and make a statement.

In the first rivalry game since the name being changed–which team will rise up, and take advantage of the opportunity before them? Are the Ducks poised for a get right game, or is this a potential trap game against a Beavers squad dangerously hopeful with nothing to lose?

Darren Perkins
Spokane, Washington
Top photo credit: Tom Corno

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Nice article. Wow, no matter their record or past performance the Beavers always make me nervous. Maybe it’s because as a kid I can recall watching good Oregon teams having decent seasons soured by inspired Beaver teams ( Jerry Frie basically lost his job because he couldn’t beat the Beavers ).

During the dark years , when both programs wandered in the college football wilderness, any hope for Duck fans hinged on the season’s final game with the Beavers. It was usually a toss-up going into those games, home field often the critical factor.

Even though it’s obvious to anyone, excepting those poor souls infected with Beaver Fever, Oregon has out paced Oregon State in fund raising, marketing, and most of all quality of athlete and athletic facility , the game itself has remained oddly hard to predict. This week’s game is no exception. J. Smith seems a good fit in Corvallis. I hesitate to heap too much praise on his offensive genius, however. He has yet to win the critical game against the ranked team.
Still, as Darren points out strange things happen in rivalry games like the Civi…err the game which dare not speak its name.

But in the end I say, “ We will,
March, March, March down the field
Fighting for Oregon
OSU May fight to the end
But we will win
Go Ducks!


All I know is Ducks 35 Beavers 24–We Win!!!


First “Playoff Top 25” USC #18, Oregon #15, BYU #14, Indiana #12, Oklahoma #11. Miami #10. Northwestern #8, Cincinnati #7. Florida #6 Texas A & M #5. Ohio State #4 Clemson #3 Notre Dame #2 Alabama.


Yeah this playoff is no better than the old BCS. In the real world Clemson and OS wouldn’t be in the TOP 4. You know the Ducks if they’d have been number 1 team the year before and they say lost by 3 points to a PAC 12 team that was say ranked like 5th the pollsters wouldn’t have even let them sniff at the top 4 and probably would be ranked like 11th. That’s why the playoffs for it to be legit it needs to be at least 8 teams because each D-1 conference should be sending their Champion to the Playoff’s every year. For some reason D-1 Football has pretty much always been the odd ball.

There is way to much power in this scenario that favors the SUCK, Big Ten and I believe the Suck is the most powerful contributers to this joke and it’s totally unfair. Its basically CHEATERS that win it mostly because of their deep pockets. Of coarse our Ducks have come OH so close a few times and if Dixon doesn’t hurt his knee I’d bet the house that Oregon would have won it that year. To me this year is all about Oregon finishing as the Champion of the PAC 12 regardless if they get to the playoff’s because next years team should be the contender real deal. Either way they have to get it done to ever be considered a Championship program. Were so close and in a lot of other sports now.

Thank you Mr and Mrs Knight because if not for you we wouldn’t be able to have this dream. Hopefully for Phil he will still be alive to see all that money pay off for Oregon sports and especially our Beloved Ducks fighting Football team now loaded with yes 4 and 5 star talents. We need one more 5 star this class so JT Come on down south.


Chip Kelly gave everyone the roadmap against the Ducks. Hopefully our coaches recognize and adjust. And I agree and echo (through paraphrase) what has been stated many times on this site: Set Joe Free!

Running around the end or quick screen passes opens the middle. Just have to go back and look at the FishDuck videos to see that happen.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

“You will continue to see a successful strategy against you until you defeat it.”


For as much as the Ducks have beaten the Beavers over the last 10 years this game is not much of a “Rivalry” anymore. I hope they can do better so as to make this game more exciting, with a Ducks win of course.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

We almost lost last year and the defense had to win it in the end. We do not have the same defense this year….


Could get exciting.

David Marsh

But our offense on the whole is much better…


Battle for WOTS! “Who Owns The State”


The Vengeance in the Valley Bowl.
Anyway, not sure I’d say it’s a trap game. With only 3 games before a possible Pac12 Champ game I think every games serious. OreSt will be fired up for this so I hope MC gave a wake up call to the team. Tackling should be a priority.
Ducks should be #10 after todays rankings come out. It’s time to play like a top ten team.

Jon Joseph

Reiteration: The NIKE Game – winner receives the Phil + Penny Knight Trophy

Oregon + Oregon State – one of the few rivalries where both teams wear NIKE. And a great way to keep on honoring a man and spouse who have been more than generous to Oregon and generous to Oregon State.

NIKE is the premiere company in Oregon.


All is as it should be.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I like it, but it would never fly and is not “politically correct.”


The Swoosh Bowl.

David Marsh

Interesting tidbit in yesterday’s practice report… https://goducks.com/news/2020/11/23/football-practice-report-nov-23.aspx

Henry Katleman as the backup place kicker was 4-of-4 in practice on Monday… I think there is a good chance we see him this week in place of Lewis for any field goal attempts.

Jon Joseph

David, your keyboard to the special team’s coach’s ears!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Thanks David, and what have we got to lose? Lewis was only 1-4 this year and two of the misses were very, very ugly.

Santa Rosa Duck

I cannot believe all you people still talking about war. How about the Kumbaya Bowl? or how about the Reefer Bowl?

Jon Joseph

The Scotch and Soda Game?

Or, The Oregon IPA Bowl?

War Ducks!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Oh you knew the second one would get a reaction from me! Heck yes!

Jon Joseph

Trap game issues?

OT – Notre Dame’s starting center and a starting guard are out versus UNC. A tricky road game for The Irish is now more tricky.


It’s really, really hard for me to root for UNC…but this one time, I can.

Jon Joseph

Congrats! You just passed an on-line Tar Heels course!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

After watching OSU play–I am convinced that we should win, but they can certainly beat us.

How about “Willamette War” for a rivalry name?

Jon Sousa

I wanted to just call it the War, but since that´s a no-no how about the No-No Game.


The Oregon Grand Disagreement Bowl?


How many people outside of Eugene and Corvallis know where the “Willamette” is ?? Remember the Oregon Ducks are a national brand so we need something that the nation can relate to and know about.

Jon Sousa

Did anyone in the country know where the Red River was before the Red River Rivalry?????


Yes, it was first made popular with the Western movies staring Roy Rogers, George “Gabby” Hayes, Sally Payne, Trevor Bardette. Titles like “Red River Valley”. Even John Wayne had one titled “Red River”. Robert McGinnls wrote one in 2020 titled “Red River Valley”. Not to mention TV shows.

Definitely a national known place.

Jon Sousa

The Participation Medal Game??????

David Marsh

We could put a bit of an English spin on it can call it the “Willameette Wobbler”


It’s the initial Willamette Valley Classic. I’m excited.


Golf tournament?


That’s the Willamette Valley Open. Easy to get them mixed up.


Platypus Feud?


How bout “Civil unrest”

Jon Joseph

Game would have to be played in Portland?

Jon Sousa

The Law and Order Bowl?


Peaceful Demonstration Game


or maybe the Cybill war?

Jon Joseph

Sorry, but I’m not giving the Beavs any strokes.


The Fur or Feather Feud part 1.


I think it comes down to do the coaches what they do best. One coach is the CEO of a burgeoning elite program, the other a shrewd offensive mind.

Can the astute head coach at OSU out maneuver the Ducks. CK came back to haunt the Ducks with his clever abilities and probably should have beaten the Ducks if it wasn’t for the turnovers. This indicates a coach can school the Ducks if they play smart.

The real question is can Cristobal get out of the way of the talent Oregon has on the field and sideline? Moorhead is just as adept at calling a game as Smith, but will he have control to do this? Hopefully Cristobal will roll a game plan which negates his tendencies. If not he may get schooled again by a sharp coach with a plan.

It would seem the Kryptonite to Cristobal’s tendencies is the DC who has become a head coach like Herm Edwards. This projects to the dawg or cal game being our trap game. I hope we rise up and beat the beavs, and grow into a force that put the hurt on the bears and dawgs, stay tuned.


Tough not smart, translation tough and foolish. There is no reason Oregon can’t be tough and clever, now that is a dangerous combination.

I think the problem is he wants to be physically dominating to a point where he can do what he wants at will. The whole astute thing seems to allude the dominating mentality. I don’t know exactly what it is exactly, I admit, but it is frustrating to say the least.

Football, at it’s essence, is a physical game where the mental side decides the game. The mental side of the game might just hold Cristobal back until he makes a shift away from a purely dominating focus.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

MC already knows he is smart….so it really isn’t that “he’d rather be thought of as tough rather than smart,” but being tough on offense is very, very important to him.

He would rather to “barely win” that way, than easily with a higher scoring offense, IMHO.

Unfortunately, as hard as it is to make sense of that, it certainly seems to be the case. Against UCLA, the Ducks had the chance(s) to go up by 17 and force UCLA to change their plan.

But Mario likes the bend but don’t break offense. “Just win, baby” is what Al Davis preached, but he didn’t mean by as little as possible. A week ago, a player deliberately didn’t score a touchdown as part of time management. Mario doesn’t want to score period.


Your right 30Duck. To much playing not to lose rather then playing to win. The late 4th quarter O and D are not beneficial for the Ducks. Attempting to “just hold on” during the late 4th quarter is a good way to lose.

Mario played on the great ‘smash mouth’ although well rounded, Miami teams. And he coached at Bama before Saint Nick went airborne.

I believe he would rather win a 10-7 game than a 38-35 game?

He has to let JM do his thing. Unencumbered, but for Mario’s outstanding work with the O line.

Widen the O line splits, go shot gun and mix it up with 4 wide outs and an O that incorporates both of our solid TEs.

Where last week were the screen passes and the wheel routes?

Last week’s O played right into the hands of an OK, not great, UCLA D. Karl Dorrell had a far better plan to attack the UCLA D.

Unleash the athletes.

With the opt outs, the Ducks has to outscore other teams.

David Marsh

In yesterday’s press conference Cristobal said he was “a little bit stubborn or a lot stubborn” (roughly at the 6:40 mark)

He is certainly “a lot stubborn” though I think we have seen some things loosen up a lot this year. The amount of pistol has gone down as I think the pistol in certain situtaitons has its value and a lot of teams use it. Oregon just needs to stop being so wedded to it for every run play. I think Moorhead is working on Cristobal and I think running game plan against UCLA didn’t work because the offensive line hadn’t seen that much pressure and the pistol really works as a change up OR against a tired defense that is getting man-handled by the offensive line… UCLA was in the backfield and made an already over used tool in the Oregon offense completely useless…

There was a couple series where Oregon did attack the edges enough that lead to some decent (but not great) runs up the middle. Though the offense needs to put consistent pressure everywhere on the field to ensure there is always somewhere for the ball to go. That just didn’t happen against UCLA.

More shotgun please!


You’re absolutely right, Darren. The Beavs come in to the game after rousing win, Beaver Nation is dancing in the streets with their 1-1 record. Meanwhile the Ducks and their 3-0 are hoping things can still get fixed.

This is another of the cliche ridden gut check games. Who wants it more? It was like that the last two Bowl games when the Ducks “proved” they wanted it more than did Michigan State & Wisconsin. But these are the Beavers, and the Ducks are gonna have to dig deep to match the energy level and emotion that the Beavers are going to bring to the game.

The true mark of how good a team is how they play on the road; especially against their nagging in state nemesis. The Ducks need to take control early and step on the Beaver’s neck, and bring the torque. We don’t want a pretty game here. Domination, crushing, relentless need to be the plan.

Jon Sousa

Beavers’ record is 1-2.


I stand corrected, thank you, as it makes my point about how happy Beaver Nation is, with their 1-2 record, compared the apprehension Oregon fans have with their 3-0 #9 Ducks, even more curious.

Jon Joseph

Thanks for the take Darren.

This will be a hard fought rivalry game. Not sure it is a ‘trap game’ per se coming after playing UCLA and before playing at CAL?

BTW, Apple Cup canceled. UW offered to play BYU. BYU demurred because the Pac-12 may have another conference team available to play UW? BYU also wants to see where it stands in tonight’s released committee rankings.

I wonder if BYU would have said ‘no’ if Arizona offered the Cougars a game?

If UW cannot pick up a game, it is now down at best, to a 5 game ‘regular’ season.

In case you hadn’t noticed. All the other P5 conference teams are available to go bowling regardless of record. The Pac-12 requires a school to finish .500 or better to go bowling.

Will the conference of champions (chumps?) ever stop shooting itself in the foot?

I’m chiming in early but will reiterate on Mr. FishDuck’s pre-game take: Ducks 45 – Beavers 31.

Jon Joseph

Truth! Unfortunate but the conference has to have a big time player in the LA market.



Jon Joseph

Is that you Gary, (Beban?) Or is it Slick Rick?

1 thing I think UCLA should do? Move to the new LA stadium?

Amazing that a school with UCLA’s resources didn’t once upon a time build a stadium on campus. Of course, that compared to where the Coli is located is some prime real estate.

Miami is in the same boat.


Not much elbow room when your in the center of things.


Neither USC, Coliseum, or UCLA, the Rose Bowl, have their own stadium. It’s actually kind of the way in LA. The Dodgers have their own stadium, but the Lakers & Clippers share the Staples Center, the Lakers definitely have top billing though, and the Rams & Chargers both play in the new SOFI Stadium.


I agree that the Pac-12 really needs USC to be good, but it hasn’t even been just in, “their standards” that they’ve been in mediocrity. They haven’t just been underperforming, they have been mediocre. Helton wasn’t picked out of load of big time coaches, he was the best USC could get.

Jon Joseph

He was hired by default and for some reason has hung in year after year,

Next up? Luke Fickel?


Yep, USC is struggling to stay relevant, forget about being a power program. Kiffin, Sarkisian, both big flame outs. They had Orgeron, he wanted to stay, but USC didn’t think he was the right look, so good bye Ed, hello, Clay.

The columnists have turned on them, Leinart, Bush are Oregon fans. Fickel will take the job if its offered, Cincinnati isn’t USC.