Oregon vs. Oregon State: Your Civil War Primer
This will not be a who/what/when/where kind of article. If you are reading this, you already know it's Civil War week. Especially if you live in the state of Oregon.
Civil War week means that natural foes, Ducks and Beavers, will go at it for the 116th time—this year in Corvallis at Oregon State's Reser Stadium. And this year, people from outside Oregon actually care about the result.
There are things about Civil War week you need to know, especially if you are a Ducks fan who has jumped on the Chip Kelly bandwagon in recent years—not that there is anything wrong with that.
My parents took me to my first Civil War game when I was two weeks old, according to my mother. That explains a lot. The Ducks won...not that I remember. No, I'm not going to tell you the year.
So I figure that there is no one more qualified than me to fill you in on everything Civil War. Pay attention; you may need some of this info.
You Cannot Be Neutral
Chances are your Oregon or Oregon State loyalty was pre-determined at birth. Most of you grew up in a household that was either yellow or orange-leaning.
Although, I have heard of recent instances when young children of Beaver parentage have gone over to the dark side, purchasing a Ducks tee with their lemonade-stand money and hiding it from dad. These are very brave, very smart children.
If I hear any Oregonian say: "Oh, I don't really care who wins the Civil War, I like both teams," I know immediately that they are not a college football fan. Or, they are living in a fool's paradise and are a complete wuss.
You must be for the Ducks or for the Beavers—there is no safe middle ground. Pick your team, if you haven't already, and give it 100 percent.
You Must Have A Car Flag
If you do not have either a Ducks or a Beavers flag waving proudly from your car, stop reading and go get one right now.
You can't possibly drive around Oregon without declaring your allegiance to your fellow drivers. Receiving comradely honks and thumbs up as you run errands will make you feel like a part of your community. Of course, you will occasionally receive other gestures, but it's all in good fun.
Just today I noticed that there are many, many more Beaver flags waving from cars (oh, OK, pickups) than there were last year at this time. Duck fans should consider that an ominous sign: It means that the Beavers believe they can win and the Beaver-Believers are coming out of the woodwork so they don't get left out of the eventual celebration.
Where were all these orange and black people last year, I ask you?
Although I've never actually known any personally, I've heard it reported that there are mixed marriages around the state. You know, a Beaver married to a Duck.
These marriages cannot possibly last. I mean, what about the children? Do you just slice them in half?
If I were invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at one of these mixed households this week, I would be very careful. I can only imagine what a Duck fan could do with a boat of gravy if aggravated.
Select Your Clothing Carefully
Between now and Saturday you must plan ahead to make sure you wear your orange or your yellow at the appropriate time.
In Portland, we have an annual event early Thanksgiving morning called the Turkey Trot. It's held at the Oregon Zoo, and it is a four-mile run/walk. My family does this every year (I only do it so I can eat more pie).
The Turkey Trot is an appropriate place to display your team allegiance. Many people wear Beaver or Duck hats, and almost everyone is in either orange or yellow. Runners are good-natured types, so there are never any fights at the Turkey Trot, even though it takes place only two days before the big game and the tension is building.
I discovered recently that it's not a good idea to wear your team apparel to the local Farmer's Market. I actually had a vendor refuse to sell me apples because I was wearing "the devil's color." Fortunately, his grandmother intervened and I went home with my Golden Delicious.
Just another football game? Hardly.
My friendly neighborhood liquor store guy tells me that this is the busiest week of the year for his store. Busier than New Year, busier than Christmas, busier than Halloween.
One can only hope that the peeps making my liquor store rich are staying home and watching the game on TV. But we both know that is not the reality.
Beaver fans like to think that they are blue-collar, hard-working people who can hold their liquor. They can't.
Duck fans just like to party. They can also be obnoxious, like the two women in front of us at last year's LSU vs. Oregon game in Dallas whose nasty fight my husband had to break up. I'm sure they don't remember it.
If you go anywhere near Corvallis on Saturday, stay with your clan. If you are yellow, don't stray into orange, and vice-versa.
I'm not kidding.
All Bets Are On
In offices all over Oregon, fans are making bets with each other. I'm sure the Presidents of each University also have a bet on the outcome.
You must be able to put your money where your mouth is during Civil War week.
When I was a child, my father was the ultimate Civil War bettor. He ran an office pool where he worked. But his best bet was always with our neighbors. We lived on top of a hill at the end of a gravel road, and the neighbors directly across the street were Oregon State fans, which was repulsive to my father.
I recall that when Oregon won the Civil War, my father would paint a bright green stripe right down the middle of our shared road. When the Beavers won, that stripe was the brightest orange you've ever seen.
My childhood friend, Sharon, is still a Beaver fan, but I like to think we are much more civilized about it than our fathers were.
What Does It All Mean?
Well, this year it means quite a lot.
The sentiment that the Ducks might lose two games in a row is blasphemy. The idea that the Beavers could end their magical season by beating the Ducks is almost too good to be true for long-suffering Oregon State fans.
Even though both Oregon and Oregon State teams are loaded with Californians, Texans and players from even further afield, they are taught early on what it means to rule the state of Oregon for a year. While Oregon, in particular, has developed other rivalries in recent years—a certain team wearing cardinal and gold about 1,000 miles south of Oregon comes to mind—bragging rights in the state are still highly valued.
And then there's that little matter of BCS bowls. Both the Beavers and Ducks still have tantalizing bowl opportunities in front of them, with all the visibility and $$$ they could want to bring to their respective programs.
The stakes are higher this year, but most fans just want to beat the Beavers. Or beat the Ducks. Simple and fun.
PREDICTION: It will be a hard-fought battle with both teams, coaching staffs and fans giving it their all. Oregon 36 — Oregon State 28
Kay Jennings is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.