Saturday, December 4, 2010
Stakes again big for Civil War
By Ted Miller
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon coach Chip Kelly has said -- over and over and over this season -- that every game is a "Super Bowl" for the Ducks. Well, with the Civil War, he's got a point.
Coach Chip Kelly and Oregon can reach the BCS National Championship Game by beating rival Oregon State.
Perhaps the battle with rival Oregon State is closer to the NFC championship. If the Ducks win, they advance to college football's Super Bowl: The BCS National Championship Game in Glendale on Jan. 10.
The Ducks have never finished a season unbeaten in the modern era, nor has the program won a national title. This, therefore, is uncharted territory. But for the laser-focused Kelly and his Ducks, it's just the next game. At least, that's the official word.
"Nothing has changed," Kelly said. "We feel we've got a formula that works for this group. It's worked 11 times and hopefully it will work a 12th."
The stakes are also clear for Oregon State. If it wins, it not only delivers an axe wound to its rival's season, it also reaches 6-6 on the year, which means bowl eligibility. The Beavers this week leaned on that as a primary motivation, not crushing the Ducks dreams (though the consolation prize for Oregon is the Rose Bowl, which typically ain't too shabby).
"There's no hatred," Beavers running back Jacquizz Rodgers said when asked if he were jealous of the Ducks' success. "When you win games, you get that attention."
So, for a third consecutive year, the Civil War is a high-stakes affair. The previous two seasons, it had major Rose Bowl implications. In 2008, the Ducks blew out the Beavers in Reser Stadium, which knocked Oregon State out of the Rose Bowl. Last year, the stakes were the Rose Bowl, and the Ducks won again in Eugene.
The Beavers, however, have won five of the past six in Corvallis, so home field has mattered of late in a series where the teams have split their past 12 meetings, though the Ducks actually have a better all-time winning percentage in Corvallis (.573) than in Eugene (.519).
Most prognosticators believe Oregon should roll. Even if Oregon State keeps things close, it's hard to believe a team that lost to UCLA and Washington State can keep up with the point-a-minute Ducks.
The Beavers will need to play a near-perfect game and hope that the Ducks are out of sorts. Perhaps the largeness of the moment finally gets to Oregon?
And you know what they say: You throw out the records in rivalry games.