Civil War game Q & A

Reser Stadium

Noah Nelson, News Contributor

Nov. 23 will mark the 122nd clash between the Oregon State Beavers and the University of Oregon Ducks on the gridiron. When the two teams first met, OSU was still called the Oregon Agricultural College. With 121 total meetings, this is one of the oldest rivalries in the history of college football. The first use of the term “Civil War” was 1929, but it wasn’t commonly used until 1937. Before then, this match was usually called either the “Oregon Classic” or simply the state championship game.

The Director of Special Collections & Archives Research Center, Larry Landis, answered a few more questions about the history of our civil war football game.

When was the first Civil War and what are any details that would make it notable?

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The first football game between what used to be Oregon Agricultural College and UO took place on Nov.  3, 1894 in Corvallis. OSU won the game, 16-0, which is certainly notable. However, what made it the most notable is that it was the first game in an enduring gridiron rivalry, which today is one of the longest in college football. 

What are some old traditions the schools and teams have for the Civil War?

For many years in the early 20th century, this game was a Beaver’s homecoming game played in Corvallis. Another tradition from the early 20th century is when fans do a serpentine at halftime. For many years, former board of regents member John Richard Newton Bell would throw his hat into the Marys River after a victory over the Ducks. 

Which school has won more games?

UO leads the series 64-47-10. Six of those ties ended with a 0-0 score.

In your opinion, what are some noteworthy/unique games?

There are numerous standout, noteworthy games. Here are some of them:

1. 1910 — The Beavers lost to the Ducks 12-0 in Corvallis. Bad behavior on the part of some fans resulted in the two schools suspending football contests against one another. The series resumed in 1912, but on a neutral field, in Albany (same in 1913).

2. 1941 — OSU closed out the season with a 12-7 win over UO to secure their first Rose Bowl berth. The Beavers went on to beat Duke 20-16 in that Rose Bowl game (Jan. 1, 1942) on Duke’s home field — the only Rose Bowl game to be played outside of Pasadena, CA.

3. 1956 — The Beaver’s first televised game was against the Ducks that year — a 14-14 tie.

4. 1983 — This game, dubbed the “Toilet Bowl” and played in Eugene, was the last major college game to end in a 0-0 tie. Both teams were inept, combining for a total of 16 turnovers and four missed field goals. The game was, perhaps, the nadir of Oregon State’s 28 consecutive losing seasons.

5. 1998 — OSU beat UO 44-41 at home in double overtime on Ken Simonton’s 16 yard touchdown run. This victory set the stage for OSU’s 7-5 season in 1999 — the first winning season since 1970.

6. 2009 — This was the first time that the two teams met, with the winner guaranteed a trip to the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, UO won 37-33.