The Beaver Beat (November 21, 2006)

With the Civil War coming up in just three short days, why not bring out a little Orwell? "Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."

At several points during this season, your intrepid reporter has put his vast quantity of journalistic integrity on the line with certain predictions. Predicting easy wins over traditional powerhouses like Eastern Washington, Idaho and Stanford can be risky business, but The Beaver Beat likes to live life on the edge.

But if you thought that was machismo, consider this: Oregon State will not only win, not only cover, but walk away from Reser Stadium on Friday with a victory of at least three touchdowns.


Oregon finds itself in a familiar situation. Well, to Beaver fans at least.

The offense is sputtering. The starting quarterback is starting to look like he couldn't break the two-deep up in Montlake. The backup quarterback is looking hotter than a ewe at the Seigert non-denominational holiday get-together. Words like "effigy" are being said in the same sentence as the head coach's name.

A quick look in Eugene should make all Beaver fans grateful that October is gone and can never return.

Oregon's football team hasn't looked quite so pathetic since the glory days of the Seattle Bowl. Offensively, the team has taken the Derek Anderson approach to playing football, countering the league's best offense with the league's worst tendency of turning the ball over. At least DA had the dreamy good looks of a pop idol.

Defensively, the Ducks are last in the Pac-10 for stopping the run when employing the Stanford Rule (which assumes that Stanford will naturally be ranked last in every statistical category because, well, they're Stanford).

(SIDE NOTE: How cool would it be if the NCAA were to employ a postseason playoff, but for the teams with the absolute worst records in each conference? Would Stanford be able to beat Temple on a neutral field? Would attendance for the Duke-Florida International contest be higher or lower than the temperature at kickoff? Does anyone have any proof that Utah State has actually shown up to any games this year?

I declare this the greatest idea ever. Nike could sponsor the whole thing and use it as an exhibition for their latest uniform ideas. Would Eastern Michigan play any better with racing stripes and fins? "Find out tonight on ESPN8, THE OCHO!" Winner gets to trade any three players with the Oakland Raiders. Someone please call Tom Hansen.)

The Civil War is sold out on Friday (the first since Reser's expansion) and Duck fans are crowing about how many Oregon fans will be attending the game. Most of these people probably don't live in Eugene, where three people impaled themselves on those God-awful Oregon flags on my way to work today. I'd buy the argument if fans weren't reaching Roboduck-like levels of desperation.


Oregon will not win on Saturday. In light of what Sammie Stroughter has already stated once this year, "God has written this day long before". And since God and I play beershoes on the weekends, here's what I know:

Dennis Dixon will be broken in half. Literally. It is my sincerest hope that this doesn't jeopardize his career or future, and that the pain isn't agonizing, but it will happen. Dorian Smith and Jeff Van Orsow will simply reach him at the same point and crack him like the wishbone at dinner the night before.

Jonathan Stewart will seem to be having the game of his life on the first drive until he goes to sit on the bench and ends his playing days. He won't have an actual injury, but they'll be over just the same.

James Finley will wear the Darth Vader mask while Coye Francies "jams him at the line" repeatedly.

"But, Intrepid Reporter, you're being unduly arrogant!" You bet I am. Listen, since 1999, there have been two rules. The first is that the team with more momentum wins the Civil War. The second is that, in the case of the teams having equal momentum, the home team wins.

In 1999, Oregon and Oregon State came into the Civil War with seven wins apiece, and the home team (Oregon) won. In 2000, both teams were good, the game was at Reser and the Beavers won. In 2001, Oregon State sucked and ended up losing to the Fiesta-bound Ducks (though it was close). In 2002, Oregon sucked and OSU blew them out. In 2003, both teams were decent, but Oregon won at Autzen. In 2004, Oregon sucked and OSU blew them out (again). In 2005, the same held true vice versa.

How "unpredictable" is that? The last time it DIDN'T happen this way was in 1998, when the Beavers beat a ranked Oregon team to notch their fifth win. If you don't remember this game, then I send my regards to all of your neighbors in Kazakhstan.

If you want to go back even further, the trend holds true for 1997, 1996, 1995 and 1994. In other words, in 11 out of the last 12 times these teams have met, the rules have held!

Sure, Oregon and Oregon State have identical records. But where as the Beavers are a train now surging ahead with a full head of steam, Oregon's boiler has blown, its boxcars are on fire and the bridge ahead is out. The two teams are polar opposites in momentum right now.

Could Oregon jump out and surprise everyone if Oregon State plays lax football?

No. God and I have hashed out the numbers, and the approximate likelihood of this happening is 0. Sorry, Duck fans, try next year.


Here's a quick look at the current Pac-10 standings, with the number of expected returning starters for 2007 in parentheses. We don't need no stinkin' kickers or punters:

1. USC (7 offense, 9 defense)
2. Cal (7 offense, 5 defense)
3. Oregon State (8 offense, 8 defense)
T4. Oregon (7 offense, 6 defense)
T4. UCLA (10 offense, 10 defense)
T4. Arizona (10 offense, 10 defense)
7. Washington State (7 offense, 5 defense)
8. Arizona State (10 offense, 6 defense)
9. Washington (6 offense, 7 defense)
10. Stanford (9 offense, 10 defense)
The teams I would really like to be, looking at the returning talent, would be UCLA and Arizona. This isn't just because of the number of starters returning, but because of the number of DEFENSIVE starters returning. In a league where teams are, on average, retuning eight players on offense, I want to be the team that is going to be able to play defense early on in the year.

With both teams returning starting quarterbacks, the outlook is even brighter. However, I'd much rather be Mike Stoops than Karl Dorrell if past performance is any indicator. Stoops has had to infuse talent – Dorrell finds new and interesting ways to mishandle it.

The teams that look the best after those two are USC and Oregon State. With OSU's defense being as strong as it is, they would be in the first group, but losing Matt Moore will probably mean growing pains early on (wow, never thought I'd write those words). For USC, their all-world receivers will be departing, and Booty/Washington isn't quite Leinart/Bush. USC will be favored again, but if Canfield comes out and lights the world on fire, OSU will be the dark horse candidate to win the Pac-10.

Cal and Oregon have very similar stories heading into next year. Both return relatively low numbers of starters (though both with starting quarterbacks), both will be hit hard on defense and both will enter next season fresh off a year where a talented squad saw the wheels come off coming down the home stretch. Both can recruit well, both are well-coached…but are they too mentally weak? One of these teams will be in the top three or four next year, the other will probably be on the bubble for bowl contention.

Washington State, Washington and Stanford will fight for the bottom of the scrap heap next year, if their returning talent (or lackthereof) is any indication. I encourage all Cougar fans to attend their bowl game, if possible, since it may be the last one for a few years. Returning only five defensive starters in an offense-happy league will probably mean big-time struggles. If there was one team in the league I would really, REALLY not like to be, Wazzu would be it.

Arizona State? They'll be rated third in the Pac-10 during the preseason and have to scramble to bowl eligibility. Sound familiar?

Oregon State's main concern should be its quarterback play. If Sean Canfield is Jonathan Smith, the returning talent on both sides of the ball is good enough to beat just about anyone. If he is Derek Anderson or Matt Moore, Beaver fans will probably feel, again, like they missed out on a chance for something big.

Here's hoping Five is closer to Nine than Eight or Fourteen.


1. USC (The unholy combination of the Vatican, Karl Dorrell and BCS computers stand in the way of another BCS championship appearance)
2. Oregon State (Only one team is scarier to play right now, even with the loss in Pasadena)
3. Arizona (This would be that team)
4. California (Almost single-handedly screwed the Pac-10 out of another few million dollars (and OSU/Oregon out of the Holiday Bowl) thanks to its breakdown against the Wildcats. If you want to hate a team, hate these guys)
5. UCLA (Still not terribly impressed by these guys)
6. Arizona State (Even less impressed by these guys)
7. Washington State (From Hoover Cup candidate to the eighth bowl-eligible Pac-10 team. What's that term again?)
8. Washington (YAY BASKETBALL!)
9. Stanford (We couldn't have been bowl eligible without you!)
10. Oregon (Only here because there aren't eleven teams)

(The Beaver Beat continually revels in the pain and displeasure of ChazReingold, ASundevilfan and all other message board doubters of Oregon State.


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