CORVALLIS, — Back in 2000, Oregon had a chance to clinch a Rose Bowl berth with a victory over Oregon State in the Civil War rivalry game. Instead, Joey Harrington threw five interceptions and the Ducks lost 23-13 in Corvallis.
There’s been some debate among fans this week about which loss was harder, that game 12 years ago or Oregon’s 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford last weekend. Only time will ultimately tell for the Ducks, but the stakes are high again for this year’s Civil War on Saturday at Reser Stadium.
Fifth-ranked Oregon (10-1, 7-1) needs a win over the No. 16 Beavers (8-2, 6-2) for a shot at its fourth straight Pac-12 championship. The Ducks also need the No. 11 Cardinal (9-2, 7-1) to lose to southern division winner UCLA in Los Angeles on Saturday.
While the loss to Stanford dealt a blow to Oregon’s national championship hopes, the Ducks could still be in the mix if USC can upset top-ranked and undefeated Notre Dame on Saturday.
But first, it’s the Civil War. And, as Oregon State coach Mike Riley often says about the game: “Anything can happen."
It is the seventh most-contested rivalry in football, starting in 1894, when Oregon State — then Oregon Agricultural College — won 16-0. In 1916, Oregon defeated OAC 27-0, giving the Ducks a 6-0-1 regular-season record.
The 1933 game was notable because of the so-called “pyramid play." Oregon’s extra-point attempt was blocked by Clyde Devine, who was lifted in the air by his teammates. The Ducks defeated Oregon State 13-3, and the play was later banned by the NCAA.
In 1962, the Beavers and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Terry Baker trailed 17-6 at halftime but dominated the second half. Baker’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Danny Espalin in the fourth quarter sealed a 20-17 victory.
The Beavers will honor the 50th anniversary of Baker’s Heisman-worthy season this Saturday with a pre-game ceremony.
A week after defeating top-ranked USC and O.J. Simpson 3-0 on a muddy November day in 1967, the Beavers’ famous “Giant Killers" came back from a 10-0 deficit to win the first Civil War at the new Autzen Stadium, 14-10.
The Toilet Bowl, a 0-0 tie on a blustery and wet day in November 1983, featured 11 fumbles, five interceptions and four missed field goals. It would go down as the last scoreless Division I college football game.
Jerry Pettibone got his first victory as the Beavers’ coach, ending a string of 10 straight losses, in the 1991 Civil War. Quarterback Ian Shields, playing with a broken big toe, scored on a 6-yard bootleg for the go-ahead touchdown. Oregon State won 14-3, their first victory in Eugene in 18 years.
The Ducks entered the 1994 Civil War tied with Southern Cal for the Pac-10 championship and needed a win to clinch their first Rose Bowl berth since 1957. Trailing 13-10, Danny O’Neil drove the team 70 yards, hitting Dino Philyaw for a 19-yard touchdown with 3:47 to play, giving Oregon a 17-13 victory.
In the aforementioned 2000 game, the No. 8 Beavers denied the fifth-ranked Ducks a trip to Pasadena with a 23-13 victory. Afterward, Harrington wept in the arms of his father, John, who played the same position for the Ducks in the late 1960s and never beat Oregon State in three tries.
The Beavers snapped a 10-game winning streak for the home team in 2007 when James Rodgers scored on a fly sweep in overtime for a 38-31 victory, Oregon State’s last in the series to date.
The next year the Beavers were looking toward their first Rose Bowl in 44 years with a victory in the final game when the Ducks romped to a 65-38 win in Corvallis. In 2009, the game was dubbed the “War of the Roses" because the winner was guaranteed a Rose Bowl berth. Oregon won 37-33.
Oregon was ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings going into the 2010 game and a 37-20 victory sent them to the national championship against Auburn.
This season Oregon is again the favorite going into the game, but Oregon State is likely to pose more of a challenge than it has in the past two seasons, when the Beavers couldn’t muster enough wins for bowl eligibility.
With one game remaining in the regular season after the Civil War, Oregon State has undergone a stunning transformation after finishing just 3-9 last season. And while the Beavers aren’t playing for a Rose Bowl berth, a win would improve their overall bowl position in the conference.
“I’m really excited about our team’s opportunity," Riley said. “I know we’re going to have to plat a super game in a lot of ways to beat (Oregon) because they are really good. We have a ton of respect for their team and what they do. But I’m really excited about our team and the way they’ve worked all year and gotten better."