Friday, November 18, 2005

Hundred Years (and more) War

It's Rivalry Weekend in the Pac-10: Wazzoo/U-Dub, Berkeley/Stanford, USC/UCLA, UA/ASU, and of Course, Oregon Vs. Oregon State.

Rivalries are, in my mind, the best part of college football. And UO/OSU is as intense a rivalry as you can find. Oh, sure, there are longer running rivalries, older rivalries, rivalries between bigger teams, more storied teams. USC/Notre Dame comes to mind. The Army/Navy Game is America's rivalry. Texas/Oklahoma. The list goes on. But for all their fame, when it comes to a deep-seeded, intense rivalry, ours can't be topped.

Don't believe me? Think that just because we're not as legendary of programs as other teams, our rivalry can't be as intense? You're wrong. And I submit to you my proof:

Think about what most rivalry games are calleD: The Game. OK, that's impressive, using the definitive article -- "There is no game but the game...." Or The Big Game. Other teams have trophies or symbols of the game: The Oaken Bucket, the Axe, the Apple Cup. There are rituals and activities, etc. surrounding these games.

Now let me tell you what WE call OUR rivalry, and have for generations:

The Civil War Game.

That's right. We have a war every fall, have since 1894. This is a game that temporarily divides families, communities, ruins friendships for an entire weekend. This is the Must Win Game every year, regardless of the win/loss records of the teams coming in to the game. This is the game that produced the NCAA's last recorded scoreless tie, in 1983's "Toilet Bowl". This is a game traditionally played through mud, and fog, and rain, a game that breaks hearts or makes spirits soar. I hate to give the Beavers and publicity, but this article from the OSU Alumni Association has some interesting information on the rivalry, including the year it wasn't played due to a riot after the previous year's game (that was in 1910 and 1911).

This year, the game actually has postseason implications. OUS is at .500 and need the game for a winning season. UO is at 9-1 (6-1), and ranked in the polls and the BCS. A win would give them a shot at the Fiesta Bowl, and pretty much Guarantee the Holiday Bowl for them (especially if USC defeats UCLA, a likely outcome). So this year, what happens in Autzen Stadium means something in the rest of the country.

But of course, it ALWAYS means something here.



Thanks to Blogfather Rusty for pointing out that USC actually plays Fresno State this weekend. Apparently, two of the PAC-10 Rival games (USC/UCLA and ASU/UA) aren't until NEXT weekend. My Bad.

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