The Big Game between California and Stanford -- or is it Stanford and California? -- kicks off our season-ending series of rivalry weekends, so the Big Bosses in the palace in Bristol, Conn., wondered: What has been the best rivalry in each conference from 2000-2009?
As usual, when my bosses ask anything of me, I was thrilled to cogitate over the assignment. My reply: The Civil War. Without question.
Start with this: It's competitive. Oregon and Oregon State have split their last 10 games.
Further, it's been important, starting on Nov. 18, 2000, which was a horrible, no-good, rotten, very bad day for the Ducks. Not only did the Beavers win the Civil War 23-13, the loss knocked the Ducks out of the Rose Bowl. And not only did the Ducks get knocked out of the Rose Bowl by their in-state rival, their loss allowed the hated Washington Huskies, whom they had beaten, to go to the Rose Bowl instead. Meanwhile, the Beavers went on to whip Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, the Huskies won the Rose Bowl over Purdue, and the Ducks had to settle for beating Texas in the Holiday Bowl. Ah, but things haven't always been rosy for the Beavers in the rivalry. Not by a long shot. In the last two Civil Wars, an Oregon State win would have earned it a Rose Bowl berth for the first time since the 1964 season. The Beavers lost both. In 2008, the Ducks blew out the Beavers in Corvallis, 65-38. In 2009, with the Rose Bowl going to the winner, the Ducks again prevailed, but this time in a 37-33 nail-biter.