Civility It's Not

It's the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi; a game that didn't used to mean much to anyone outside the state of Oregon for decades. It's also a game that has literally divided families, mine included.

If you’ve lived in Oregon for any substantial amount of time, you know of course that I’m talking about the Civil War. No, outsiders, not the battle between the Union and the Rebels, but the battle between the orange and yellow. For those of you not in the know, I’m talking about the Oregon State Beavers versus the Oregon Ducks, and it’s anything but civil.

For just a little over 100 years, the annual Oregon State/Oregon football game has meant bragging rights for 365 days in the Beaver state. In the last five years, this game has had Pac-10, and at times national implications. Both programs have done extremely well in that time frame and this year is no exception.

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Steven Jackson will be looking to chew the UO secondary in what could be his last Civil War.

Neither team has met the high level of expectations placed upon them at the beginning of the season, but both squads are playing extremely well right now, with the Beavers looking to be in the drivers seat.

Oregon State is coming off a blow out win of a young and struggling Stanford team, demolishing them by 40 points in a game that could have been worse for the Cardinal. A week earlier the men in black equally crushed the Arizona Wildcats in a lopsided 29-point victory.

By comparison, the University of Oregon is also coming off a strong win against a Pac-10 California school, UCLA. The Ducks dominated the hot and cold Bruins 31-13 in the Rose Bowl. A week earlier the green and yellow pulled out a come from behind victory over California in Eugene.

A quick comparison of the two teams from Oregon may draw some parallels for some, but the Beavers haven’t had the complete failure by their offensive unit as consistently as the Ducks.

Of the three losses Oregon State has weathered, only the Washington Huskies have beaten them by more than six points (21). The Ducks on the other hand, have been trounced by their competition in three of their four losses (39, 45, and 32 points). In those games, the Ducks offense managed to only put 16, 14, and 10 points on the board respectively. But this is also the same Duck squad that managed to upset the currently fifth ranked Michigan Wolverines.

The Beavers are averaging 33 points a game, and that number includes two losses where they were only able to put up 14 and 17 points. In their last three games, the orange and black has averaged 42 points. Combine that with a defense that ranks number one in the Pac-10 and you’ve got a team to be reckoned with. You read that correctly, the Beavers have the number one defense in the Pac-10.

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Bill Swancutt and the Beaver defense hope to thrown down the Duck quarterbacks all day.

You thought it was USC? Consider the following. The Beavers have allowed fewer passing yards (2,132), total yards (2,895), average yards per play (4.0), average yards per game (289.5), and total number of plays (719) than the Trojans (2552, 3216, 4.3, 321.6, and 746 respectively). The Beavers have allowed only one more touchdown than USC so far this year. In fact, the only defensive categories that USC bests Oregon State is rushing defense by just 10 yards a game (66.4 to 76.3), scoring defense by less than a field goal (17.5 to 20.1), and sacks (36 to 24).

The Ducks defense, in contrast, rates in the middle of the Pac-10 in nearly all statistical categories.

What ray of light does this shed on the upcoming game? What conclusions can we draw from this insight? What does everything I’ve written mean regarding the Civil War? Absolutely nothing!

You can’t predict, prognosticate, presage, or prefigure anything when it comes to this in-state rivalry. What you can expect is a high intensity, trash talking, hard-hitting contest that either team can steal from the other in any given year. And that, my friends, is exactly what makes it the game everyone in Oregon circles on his or her calendar every November. Whether you’re rooting for the Ducks or cheering for the Beavers, the Civil War is an event every year!

My thoughts? Well, I’m thinking the Beavers run all over the Ducks and laugh while their doing it, but that’s never been different from any other year.

Robert Nesta can be reached at

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