A Fine Little War: Oregon State, Oregon Aren't Fuzzy Little Animals Anymore

Nov. 18, 2000

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Everybody knows about Auburn-Alabama,Michigan-OhioState, UCLA-USC and even Army-Navy going back a couple generations.

Then there's Oregon vs. Oregon State, the Saturday morning cartoon ofcollege football rivalries: So many Ducks and Beavers running around, tryingtoact like the big critters - Tigers, Wolverines and Bruins, oh my - whoreallydecide the balance of power in this sport.

All of a sudden, however, this quaint little game they call the CivilWarmeans a great deal - not just to the players and fans who wear the Ducks'greenand gold, and the Beavers' orange and black. Oregon is ranked No. 5, theBeavers No. 8. Both teams are 9-1, and they'll enter the Civil War with achance to go to the Rose Bowl.

Throughout their histories, the teams have taken turns being awful.This isa rare year when both are outstanding.

'I don't think there's every been a time when they've each had suchwonderful opportunities staring them in the face,' said Terry Baker, the1962Heisman winner who helped Oregon State win twice and tie once against theDucks. 'It's great for the state of Oregon.'

If the Ducks win, they'll wrap up a perfect 8-0 season in the Pac-10and goto their first Rose Bowl in six seasons. The Beavers appear to be the bestall-around team in the conference, but they need a victory, combined with aloss by Washington to its rival, Washington State, for the Apple Cup, toearntheir first trip to Pasadena since 1965.

'To lose this game would be heartbreaking,' said Oregon StatelinebackerRichard Seigler. 'They'll be able to celebrate the Rose Bowl on our field.Wecan't let that happen. That would be too much to take.'

The mild-mannered home cities of Oregon's two largest universities -Eugeneand Corvallis - find it hard to hate each other. They're just 54 miles awayfrom each other, and both have peaceful, pastoral settings in the fall. Butevery year, fans from both cities get a little carried away.

'In this state, you're either a Duck or a Beaver,' said Oregon StatecoachDennis Erickson, who lost his first and only Civil War game last season,25-14.

In the previous century, OSU students used to caravan to Skinner Butteoutside Eugene to paint the yellow 'O' a Beaver shade of orange. On morethanone occasion, the cement letter was dynamited by some resourceful OSUengineering students.

Just good, clean fun.

The 1937 Civil War produced one of the most memorable incidents of therivalry. Two days after their team went to Oregon and won 14-0 to spoil theDucks' homecoming, Oregon State students packed into cars and drove toEugene,intending to roam the campus and do a little gloating.

UO students got wind of it, they met their rivals on campus and turnedthemaway with firehoses. When the OSU group retreated to a nearby cafe to deviseaplan to steal the Ducks' 'victory bell,' the UO students showed up andblocked the doors. While worried police stood by, the Beaver believers wereallowed to leave, but only if they agreed to be tossed into a nearby creek.Afterward, everyone partied at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house.

On the field, the Oregon-Oregon State game has been a dud as often as athriller. Since Oregon State won the first game in 1894, 16-0, there havebeenfive 0-0 ties - in 1904, 1906, 1920, 1921 and 1983, a futile contest playedina deluge that came to be known as the 'Toilet Bowl.'

'It's a weird game,' said Oregon state linebacker Jared Cornell. 'Weirdthings happen.'

There have been fantastic moments in the series. In 1962, a refereeruledthat a punt went off the foot of Oregon's Mel Renfro, and Oregon Staterecovered at the Ducks' 13. Baker hit Danny Espanlin for a touchdown with11:24to play to win it 20-17.

The punter on the controversial play was Rich Brooks, who coached the Ducksto their last Rose Bowl, in 1994. That season, Danny O'Neill hit DinoPhilyawon a 19-yard pass to help Oregon win the Civil War, 17-13, and secure thetripto Pasadena.

The 1998 game still goes down as the most exciting Civil War inhistory.Oregon State, at the tail end of what turned out to be the final season of a28-year streak of losing records, won 44-41 in double-overtime on KenSimonton's 16-yard touchdown.

'I will never forget that day - ever,' said Oregon quarterback JoeyHarrington, who was a freshman then. 'Every time I think about it, I getsickto my stomach. It was the most humiliating experience of my life.'

Both Erickson and Oregon coach Mike Bellotti have said that the CivilWar'divides families,' and they're right.

Harrington is just one of several players on both sides who have familytiesto the rivalry. The Portlander's father, John, played quarterback for Oregoninthe late 1960s, when the Ducks were mediocre. Oregon State tight end MartyMaurer's father, Andy, played at Oregon during the same time as JohnHarrington. When Bellotti refused to give his son a scholarship, the Maurersthrew away all their Ducks memorabilia.

'My dad has ties, but I don't hold that against them,' the youngerMaurersaid. 'The Ducks are the Ducks, and I don't like them. My favorite collegefootball team is the one that's playing the Ducks. That's who I'm rootingfor.

'Things change. It's a good time to be a Beaver.'

By LANDON HALL
AP Sports Writer

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