Despite team statuses, the Civil War pushes new records

The Beavers take on the Ducks in the 120th meeting of the Civil War on Nov. 26 at Reser Stadium.

Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporters

Yeah, sure. Oregon State is not a great team this year.

Yeah! Sure! Oregon also is not a great team this year!

I think that’s the best way to characterize OSU fans’ assessment of the in-state teams in 2016.

The Beavers and Ducks are both mediocre this season—sure, both teams are coming off wins before the Civil War for the first time since 2009, but for most of this season both teams have been unexceptional. Beaver fans are grouchy about their own team’s performance and elated about their rival’s (lack of) effort. Unless you’re one of those platypus-types that roots for both teams, but that’s a different discussion.

I’m not saying OSU isn’t headed in the right direction or that Gary Andersen isn’t making progress in Corvallis; that’s also a different discussion. But it’s true that wherever the Beavers hope to be, they aren’t there yet.

And wherever the Ducks wish they were… I don’t know, maybe call 2011 and ask it to come back?

Point being, this Civil War maybe lacks the luster from previous years. The Beavers and Ducks are both 2-6 in the Pac-12. The OSU-Oregon rivalry was a glorified play-in game for the Rose Bowl not long ago, and now it’s a glorified Toilet Bowl.

But it’s gonna be the best dang Toilet Bowl there is.

And I’m not referencing the 1983 Civil War, which was dubbed the Toilet Bowl because of the 11 turnovers and four missed field goals. The 2016 Toilet Bowl will be much better.

Why? Because records coming into the Civil War doesn’t matter. It’s the Civil War. It’s the most important football game in the state of Oregon, no matter what.

Take the 2004 Civil War for example, one of the more memorable rivalry games from OSU’s perspective due to Derek Anderson’s 351 pass yards in the 50-21 win.

Both teams entered that game at 5-5, and Oregon ended with its first

losing season since 1993.

Or how about 1991? OSU hadn’t won a game all year and Oregon was 3-7, but the Beavers’ 14-3 win was still meaningful. Why? Because it’s Oregon State versus Oregon. Good versus evil (it’s up to you to decide which team is which).

Who cares if both teams couldn’t beat a team of 4th graders beforehand? If OSU wins, it gets bragging rights for 364 days.

For the record, both of these teams would destroy a 4th grade team.

My point is, Civil Wars aren’t defined by what the teams did before the game. It’s defined by what happens in the game.

Plus, there’s a lot of other storylines that add intrigue to this year’s Civil War that aren’t related to the combined 5-15 records from both teams.

The Beavers haven’t beaten the Ducks since 2007. They have two chances, this year and next, to avoid losing a decade’s worth of Civil Wars, and that streak is on the line regardless of wins and losses in non-Civil War games.

Also, OSU is trying to build a program and go from 2-8 in Gary Andersen’s first year in 2015 to something much better. Winning the 2016 Civil War would provide a boost in that rebuilding process; losing it would throw a wrench in the gears.

Let me close with an analogy.

This year’s Civil War is like a guy and a one-meter diving board. It’s not as tall as a three-meter board —that’s if OSU and Oregon were undefeated. But since both teams are pretty pedestrian, it’s a one-meter board.

But you know something about one-meter spring boards? You can still bounce pretty high on them.

The team that loses the 2016 Civil War is the board itself. The guy may bounce real high in the air, but the board stays put. The winner is the jumper, who uses the board topropel himself upwards.

So the question is, can OSU beat Oregon, using the Ducks as a spring board to push themselves to the next level? And, almost as gratifying, can they turn Oregon into the Diving Board Ducks?

That’s what matters, not what these two teams’ record is before the rivalry matchup. Records haven’t been the only thing making the first 119 Civil Wars important, and that remains the case for the 120th on Saturday.

Well, it’s the 121st if you count the actual thing. You know, the actual Civil War from the 1860s? And how many Pac-12 wins did the North or South have before that? None, but we still talk about that Civil War in history class!

OK, I digress.

If OSU beats Oregon, it’ll be 1-0 against the Ducks this year.

That’s the only record that really counts.

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