Inside The 115th Civil War

The annual clash between Oregon and Oregon State - "The Civil War" - is the seventh-most contested rivalry in the nation and dates back to 1894. Oregon leads overall in the match-up 58-46-10 and has a three-game win streak. For some insight into the rivalry, esteemed Oregon State and Oregon bloggers Andy Wooldridge ( and David Piper ( rehash some of the big games in the rivalry's history.


Three consecutive losses in the Civil War, which not-so-coincidentally coincide with Chip Kelly's time as head coach at Oregon, have cost Oregon State a couple of Rose Bowl trips, and generally spoiled the fun for the Beavers. Meanwhile, the Ducks have enjoyed the greatest era in the history of the series, which dates back to 1894, with back-to-back conference championships, and trips to the Rose Bowl and the BCS National Championship game.

But recent years have seen some of the best wins ever, from an Oregon State perspective, in the series.

Possibly the most exciting game in the history of the Civil War has to rate as the greatest one in the eyes of Beaver fans. And it didn't even come in a winning season. But Ken Simonton's run into the dark corner of the end zone - where the Valley Football Center now stands - that produced the 44-41 win in double overtime in 1998 didn't just end the longest game in the history of the rivalry, it was the turning point in modern Oregon State football history.

Oregon entered the game with an 8-2 record and ranked No. 15 in the country. Oregon State, in its second season under coach Mike Riley, was already assured of its 28th consecutive losing season. But the Beavers wouldn't give up, and Simonton's touchdown gave the Beavers a 5-6 record, which was the best the Beavers had done since 1971. More importantly, it showed players and fans alike that Oregon State could play with the big boys, and could be relevant. It would be 13 years before a Beaver team failed to produce at least 5 wins in a season again.

The 2007 Civil War was another overtime classic, and again, it was one that carried significance beyond the game. The series had been so close that the home team had won the last 10 battles. The Beavers hadn't won at Autzen in 14 years.

Oregon came in 9-2 and ranked No. 18. Oregon State was 7-4, and while everyone expected another of the typical all-out wars, few felt the home field advantage wouldn't prevail again.

An Oregon State freshman from Texas named James Rodgers had other plans, though.

Rodgers would go on to have one of the greatest careers in Oregon State history, and more than a few of his best plays would be fly sweeps. Not unlike the one that gave the Beavers a touchdown in overtime, and a 38-31 win.

Of course, this rivalry has played a major role in Oregon's rise to prominence as well, and some of the school's greatest seasons were punctuated by big Civil War victories.

Going into the 1994 season, the Ducks and Beavers were national also-rans. But big victories over Washington and Arizona put Oregon in a position where a win in Corvallis would seal the program's first conference title and Rose Bowl berth since 1958.

The Beavers nearly spoiled Oregon's season, holding a 13-10 lead late in the fourth quarter. But with 3:37 to go, quarterback Danny O'Neil hit running back Dino Philyaw on a screen play for a 20-yard touchdown pass, propelling the Ducks to Pasadena, and setting the foundation for Oregon's rise to national prominence.

And while there would be many great games in between, no Civil War will top the 2009 contest in Autzen Stadium. In what will live on as the biggest Civil War in history, this game was a matchup of the top two teams in the conference - 13th-ranked Oregon State and 7th-ranked Oregon - with the winner securing a spot in the Rose Bowl. While a number of Civil Wars have impacted the Rose Bowl, 2009 was the only time both teams had the same clear path: win and go, no matter anything else.

Touchdown plays by both James and brother Jacquizz Rodgers brothers and four Justin Kahut field goals would give Oregon State a nine point second half lead, until LaMichael James' third touchdown run finally gave Oregon the lead.

The Beavers would have one more chance, but after turning the ball over on downs, the Ducks bled the last 6:09 of the game off the clock. That '09 game-winning drive included two gutsy fourth down conversion runs by Jeremiah Masoli and Kenjon Barner, which knocked Oregon State out of the Pac-10 Championship for the second year in a row, sent Oregon to the Rose Bowl, and earned the first of what could be three consecutive conference titles.

These were some of the times when the Civil War rose from being the most important event of the year in the state of Oregon to a contest that all of college football now notices.

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