Video: 2013 Civil War preview
Oregon State (6-5, 4-4) trudges into Eugene to take on cross-state foe Oregon (9-2,6-2) Friday as losers of four in a row, but make no mistake, in rivalry games of this magnitude, anything can happen (especially after last weekend's debacle in the desert. Too soon?). From 0-0 ties to "Toilet Bowls," this rivalry has seen just about everything.
Series History: Originally referred to as "friendly practice" way back in the series' opening game in 1894, the rivalry has become anything but civil. The 2013 version of the Civil War will be the 117th time that the Ducks and Beavers (formerly Webfoots and Hay Miners, respectively) have met on the gridiron, making it the seventh oldest rivalry in all of college football. The Ducks own the advantage in the series 60-46-10, winning the last five straight while outscoring their in-state neighbors up Interstate 5 by an average of 20 points per game.
Memorable Moment: In 1998, an upset-minded 4-6 Oregon State team under the direction of second-year head coach Mike Riley welcomed 15th-ranked Oregon to Parker Stadium. A back-and-forth affair resulted in a tied ballgame at the end of regulation. In the first overtime after a Beavers score, an Akili Smith pass was broken up on fourth down and the Oregon State faithful poured onto the field in celebration. However, a dubious pass interference penalty was ruled on the play, giving the Ducks another shot. After taking nearly 15 minutes to clear the field, the Ducks scored, sending the game into a second overtime. On the first possession of double OT, Oregon kicked a field goal, setting the stage for the Beavers' freshman running back Ken Simonton. On second-and-one, Simonton took a handoff from quarterback Jonathan Smith and sprinted 16-yards up the right sideline into the end zone and into the widespread arms of fans for a game-winning touchdown.
Civil War Traditions: Relatively unknown outside of both fanbases, the winner of the annual Civil War game is awarded the Platypus Trophy. Deriving its significance from the fact that a platypus displays physical features of both a Beaver and a Duck, the Platypus Trophy was originally awarded to Oregon State after defeating Oregon 15-7 in the 1959 Civil War. Over the course of the following few years, the trophy was reportedly stolen multiple times and then disappeared for the next four decades. The trophy was apparently rediscovered in 2005 in a closet at Oregon's MacArthur Court. It is now presented annually to the winning school's alumni association.
Three players to watch for Oregon State:
1. Brandin Cooks – Cooks has nearly double as many receiving yards as Oregon State's total rushing yards on the ground (1,560 to 801) this season. The Pac-12's leading receiver will have to be a major factor as Oregon's stout secondary only ranks first in the conference in yards allowed through the air, holding teams to an average of 208.1 yards per game.
2. Sean Mannion – Afterall, someone has to get the ball to Cooks. Despite still leading the nation in passing yards, Mannion has struggled in the Beavers' four straight losses with a combined 10 interceptions to only five touchdowns. There's no question he'll have to improve upon those numbers for the Beavers to have a chance at shocking the Ducks.
3. Oregon State defensive line – I'm sure Scott Crichton and co. spent extra time this week watching what Arizona's line did to counter Oregon's vaunted read-option and rushing attack that ranks 10th nationally. Getting some pressure on Marcus Mariota and staying disciplined in their assignments is an absolute must.
Three players to watch for Oregon:
1. Marcus Mariota – All signs point to Mariota playing as he apparently passed all concussion protocol this week and his knee is holding up. If healthy, his running ability takes the Oregon offense to a new level. Remember his iconic 42-yard scamper in last season's Civil War game?
2. Thomas Tyner – With leading rusher Byron Marshall possibly out and De'Anthony Thomas' ineffectiveness last weekend, it might fall on the much-heralded freshman to shoulder the load on the ground this week for the Ducks. Up to this point, Tyner has put in a very respectable freshman campaign with 549 yards and eight touchdowns in a reserve role.
3. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – On Friday when Brandin Cooks lines up wide on the line of scrimmage and looks up at the defense he'll be staring at one of the nation's premier cover corners in Ekpre-Olomu. The leader of the Ducks' secondary, Ekpre-Olomu may be overshadowed statistically by fellow corner Terrance Mitchell's five interceptions and six pass breakups to his two, but that's only because opposing quarterbacks throw away from him.