Asked about the significance of the Civil War, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota at first gave the stock answer that it’s just another game. But then the sophomore quarterback turned thoughtful.
The annual rivalry game with Oregon State may not mean as much for the postseason as it has in years past, but at the very least it means bragging rights for the winner.
“I know you’re going to hate this answer, but we always take it one game at a time. It’s a faceless opponent,” Mariota said with a laugh, before adding: “In all honesty, just talking around the community, this game does mean a lot. It means a lot to the state. It’s an honor to play in it.”
No. 12 Oregon (9-2, 6-2) has lost two of its last three to drop out of the race for the national championship, a BCS bowl and the Pac-12 title game. But the stunned Ducks are still looking for their sixth straight 10-win season, as well as their sixth straight victory over their in-state rivals.
Oregon State (6-5, 4-4) is looking to avoid a fifth consecutive loss, which would be its longest losing streak since the Beavers dropped six straight to conclude the 1997 season. Oregon State is also one of nine Pac-12 teams vying for a spot in the seven conference bowl games.
Last season, the fifth-ranked Ducks defeated the No. 16 Beavers 48-24. Kenjon Barner ran for 198 yards and two scores. Oregon went on to beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, and Oregon State fell to Texas in the Alamo Bowl. It was the fourth time in the series history that both teams were ranked for the game.
The Civil War is the seventh most-contested rivalry in football, starting in 1894, when Oregon State — then Oregon Agricultural College — won 16-0. In 1916, Oregon defeated OAC 27-0, giving the Ducks a 6-0-1 regular-season record and their first-ever appearance in the Rose Bowl, where they defeated Penn 14-0.
The 1933 game was notable because of the so-called “pyramid play.” Oregon’s extra-point attempt was blocked by Clyde Devine, who was lifted in the air by his teammates. The Ducks still defeated Oregon State 13-3, and the play was later banned by the NCAA.
In 1962, the Beavers and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Terry Baker trailed 17-6 at halftime but dominated the second half. Baker’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Danny Espalin in the fourth quarter sealed a 20-17 victory.
A week after defeating top-ranked USC and O.J. Simpson 3-0 on a muddy November day in 1967, the Beavers’ famous “Giant Killers” came back from a 10-0 deficit to win the first Civil War at the new Autzen Stadium, 14-10.
The Toilet Bowl, a 0-0 tie on a blustery and wet day in November 1983, featured 11 fumbles, five interceptions and four missed field goals. It would go down as the last scoreless Division I college football game.
Jerry Pettibone got his first victory as the Beavers’ coach, ending a string of 10 straight losses, in the 1991 Civil War. Quarterback Ian Shields, playing with a broken big toe, scored on a 6-yard bootleg for the go-ahead touchdown. Oregon State won 14-3, their first victory in Eugene in 18 years.
The Ducks entered the 1994 Civil War tied with Southern Cal for the Pac-10 championship and needed a win to clinch their first Rose Bowl berth since 1957. Trailing 13-10, Danny O’Neil drove the team 70 yards, hitting Dino Philyaw for a 19-yard touchdown with 3:47 to play, giving Oregon a 17-13 victory.
In 2000, the No. 8 Beavers denied the fifth-ranked Ducks a trip to Pasadena with a 23-13 victory.
The Beavers snapped a 10-game winning streak for the home team in 2007 when James Rodgers scored on a fly sweep in overtime for a 38-31 victory, Oregon State’s last in the series to date.
The next year the Beavers were looking toward their first Rose Bowl in 44 years with a victory in the final game when the Ducks romped to a 65-38 win in Corvallis. In 2009, the game was dubbed the “War of the Roses” because the winner was guaranteed a Rose Bowl berth. Oregon won 37-33.
Oregon was ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings going into the 2010 game and a 37-20 victory sent the Ducks to the national championship against Auburn.
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