Beavers, Ducks try to balance holiday and hype

EUGENE — Oregon and Oregon State are trying to keep preparation for the Civil War completely normal, even though the game itself is anything but ordinary.

The No. 10 Ducks will host the No. 16 Beavers next Thursday, with the winner earning the Pac-10 title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. The long-standing rivalry has never before solely determined the conference's representative in Pasadena.

The Ducks (9-2, 7-1) have not played in a Rose Bowl since 1995, when they lost to Penn State 38-20. Oregon State (8-3, 6-2) last played in the game in 1965, losing 34-7 to Michigan.

The anticipation for the 113th edition of the Civil War is palpable across the state.

Attorney General John Kroger issued a release warning citizens about counterfeit tickets, while one fan put a pair of authentic Autzen Stadium seats on for $1,000. A couple of Oregon State fans paid to have Portland's Morrison Bridge lit by orange lights.

Oregon State coach Mike Riley and Oregon coach Chip Kelly were giving their teams a bit of a break, similar to a bye week. Both teams got Thanksgiving off and will return to practice on Saturday.

In other words, business as usual — or as usual as possible.

"We always say during a regular week that we win the game on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We have to stick with that recipe," Riley said. "We can't jump ahead in any of that stuff."

Kelly said the game was as big as any other — and they're all big.

"Every game is the Super Bowl for us," he said. "If we didn't treat it that way we wouldn't be where we are."

The winner next Thursday will face Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

While they may pale in comparison to this season's game, the past two Civil Wars have been also been emotionally charged.

In 2007, the Beavers snapped a decade-long winning streak for the home team with a 38-31 victory over the No. 18 Ducks. James Rodgers scored the winning touchdown on a fly sweep.

A year later, the Beavers were headed to the Rose Bowl with a victory, but the Ducks came up the road to Reser Stadium and romped to a 65-38 win.

Riley said part of the challenge this year is controlling his team's emotions.

"You can't jump ahead to the game without going through the day-to-day detail, preparation," he said. "We have to have detailed preparation — that's been the key to what we've done to get here. We can't bypass any of that and get caught up in the emotion of the game too early."

Kelly, who was offensive coordinator at Oregon for the past two seasons before taking over for Mike Bellotti as head coach, said he has no doubt his players will be able to keep their emotions in check given what they've already been though this season.

Oregon headed into its national televised opener with an offense that was considered one of the most potent in the nation, but the Ducks got humiliated 19-8 on the blue turf at Boise State. To make matters worse, running back LeGarrette Blount punched a Broncos defensive end, bringing him to his knees in an embarrassing incident for the school.

Blount, who ran for 1,002 yards last season, was at first suspended for the season, but Oregon recently brought him back after he met certain academic and behavior requirements.

However, he has not played in a game.

"Our players have done a great job at handling everything we've been a part of. It started with Week 1 for us," Kelly said. "So I'm not worried about this team at all in terms of their focus and attention to detail."

So between the holiday and all the hype, what's a Duck — or a Beaver — to do with the downtime? Backup quarterback Nate Costa was going hunting.

"Me and (offensive lineman) Jordan Holmes are going to go hunting for some turkeys and some ducks and hopefully knock something down and eat something for Thanksgiving," he said.

Huh? Ducks?

"I don't feel bad," he said. "They taste pretty good."

Share This Story