For many fans in the state, this is the biggest week of the year. With Thanksgiving in the rear view, the Ducks and Beavers will take the field for the 118th time this Saturday in Corvallis. The Civil War is one of the premier rivalries on the west coast and across the country. When looking at the impact of this game, look no further than a national broadcast featuring a team that may not even play in a bowl game this season.
Being immersed in the rivalry is not something unfamiliar to many Ducks. Several Oregon and Oregon State players called this state home as they grew up, many of them found themselves in divided households. One of those players was Oregon offensive guard Doug Brenner. Brenner recalls having a flag with both the Beavers and Ducks logos on it, demonstrating the struggle within the family for the Brenners.
“I’m really excited, especially with being a guy from Oregon. It’s an honor to play in it. I have a family that is divided; one of my sisters went to Oregon State and one that goes to Oregon. One was trying to recruit me to OSU and the other was trying to recruit me here. To play in the Civil War is awesome, it is one of the best rivalries in the country,” said Brenner.
With Oregon and Oregon State in such close proximation, the fanbases have a lot of crossover for who is a fan and where they currently live. The colors fly, regardless of record this week and you are just as likely to see orange and black in Eugene as you are to see green and yellow in Corvallis. Fans find a way to get after one another all week long and for many fans, winning this game is a heavy focus when the season starts.
“To me, one of the unique things about this is our fans and their fans dislike each other more than the programs do,” said offensive coordinator Scott Frost.
Visiting teams feel the hostility of the Beaver faithful from the moment they leave the locker room. The Ducks walk from near Gill Coliseum down a sectioned off part of the street between the arenas until they get to the gate to enter the stadium grounds. From there, they walk down a ramp toward the field, in full view of the home faithful.
Rumors of things being thrown at the visiting team ran rampant through players memories this week, but one that was a bit less malicious stuck out in Marcus Mariota’s memory.
“It is kind of a fun atmosphere for a lot of us, we get to feed off of it a bit. I had a kid stick out his hand and he pulled it away. He was wearing a neutral color so I thought for sure I was going to get a hand shake but it turns out he was a Beaver fan,” said Marcus Mariota.
While it may be downplayed in the locker room, there is a palpable sense of animosity when the Ducks and Beavers take the field. The energy in whichever stadium the game is played is often magnified, simply because the heated rival is in town. For running backs coach Gary Campbell, there is more than simply a tally in the win column.
“I think it’s bragging rights for the state. Every family is either a Beaver or a Duck and some of them are both, so families get split this time of year. It’s all about who gets that year to be the champion of the state,” said Campbell.
Gary Campbell is the longest tenured coaches with the Ducks and has seen his fair share of Civil War meetings. Since Campbell came on as an assistant coach for the Ducks, Oregon boasts a 21-9 record. To Coach Campbell, the Civil War is a game that has an effect for the rest of his year in the state.
“I just want to win the game. When I first got here, we had won for several years in the Rich Brooks era. Then we went through some years when we lost it, and that was a bad feeling. It was hard to live in this state if you lose. There is a bunch of Beaver fans here and if you lose they let you know it for twelve months,” said Campbell.
When the ball gets teed up on Saturday, none of the talk will matter as the teams battle for in state supremacy. The talking is sure to continue, regardless of the outcome but it really cannot be overstated. For the Beavers, this is a rush the field kind of game that will last as an indelible mark on the rivalry. For the Ducks, their sights are set on a grand prize and taking the seventh straight Civil War will be a nice feather in the cap for the seniors who have never tasted defeat at the hands of the Beavers.
Civil War Divides State, Family, Friends
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