If you were born in the state of Oregon, there’s no denying it: you’re either a Beaver or a Duck. This place is an interesting toss-up when it comes to sports allegiance. Sure, we’ve got the Portland Trail Blazers and regionally the Mariners, Seahawks, and 49ers, but above all else, an Oregonian’s heart is either orange and black or green and yellow. Being a Beaver or a Duck goes far beyond cheering for your team; it’s an identity, a stout fidelity spanning multiple generations of devout fans, supporters, and alumni.
The University of Oregon and Oregon State University have existed for over 130 years, and throughout all this time they’ve been battling for flagship status. The competition’s pageantry is derived from deep rooted provincialism, “culture versus agriculture” as a t-shirt slogan once wittingly put it. It’s the clash between the progressive, liberal arts institution and the small-town, engineering and farming college. More recently, it’s been the battle between UO’s flash and OSU’s tradition. Which ever way you see it, it’s a rivalry, a Civil War as it’s appropriately been named.
It’s hard to say that this is a hate-based rivalry. It’s more along the lines of a heated contest between bitter foes. I’ve always held that the Beavers are our rivals, but the Huskies are our enemies. You have to come to terms with friends, teachers, colleagues, and even family members who are Beavers. We coexist peacefully for the most part, the close knit nature of the fan bases contributing to the aura of the enmity.
The Ducks and Beavers meet one day a year on the football field to determine bragging rights for the other 364. I like to see the Beavers do well until the Civil War so they have that much more to cry about when we crush their hopes and dreams at the end of the season. On the other hand, one of the toughest parts of being a kid was having to go to school the following Monday after a Duck loss in the Civil War. If you grew up in California, you didn’t have to deal with all the smug Beaver fans, each one making sure to remind you of the final score and which post season aspiration they screwed you out of.
On Saturday, the two teams will go head to head for the 116th time. Here’s hoping for an exciting game and a victorious conquest of Corvallis.
Good news, blog fans: I’ve finally made it through finals, so now I have plenty of free time to belt out new material.
I’m going to make it a goal to post at least two articles a week during the break, along with fleshing out some other features similar to the “Learn the Fight Song” page.
On Saturday night, quarterback Robert Griffen III strolled past the big boys and hoisted the hardware in Times Square. The redshirt Junior became Baylor University’s first Heisman Trophy recipient, relegating Stanford QB Andrew Luck to the runner-up position for the second straight year after he was defeated for the award by Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in 2010.
Following the presentation, AddictedtoQuack.com writer dvieira made a telling observation about an emerging trend in college football:
“-part of me [feels] like Griffin’s path to Heisman immortality was paved by Dennis Dixon’s 2007 season, and the era of the modern dual-threat quarterback now has two consecutive Heisman winners to hang its hat on.”
To be a successful quarterback in college football today, you have to be able to throw AND run. In 2007, Dennis Dixon set the bar for dual-threat QBs, passing for 2100 yards and 20 TDs, rushing for nearly 600 yards and 9 TDs…and let me remind you that he did this in 10 games before suffering a torn ACL which unfortunately ended his Heisman campaign a couple weeks early (but that’s a story for another day). In order to appreciate his style, you have to realize that when Dixon took off running, he was weaving through the secondary Black Mamba style. When Darron Thomas keeps it, he doesn’t come close to the speed and agility that DD was showcasing back in the day. Before the national scene was all about RGIII, Cam Newton, or Denard Robinson, Dennis Dixon was the big man on campus.
If you read my last post, you recall Dixon’s game winning performance against Oklahoma in the final minutes, going perfect through the air and making a couple of huge plays on the ground. I couldn’t find the clip I REALLY wanted which was Dixon on a 80 yard keeper for a TD against Houston in 2007.
Instead, here’s a interview with Dennis Dixon discussing being a dual-threat QB, complete with some highlights of his 100 yard rushing performance against the Fuskies in 2007.
It’s September 2006, the first time I would see a game live in Autzen Stadium. The #11 Oklahoma Sooners led by star running back Adrian Peterson marched into Eugene looking for their third win over the Ducks in 3 years, 7th in the series. Oregon lost a close one to the Sooners in the 2005 Holiday Bowl via interception on a potential game tying drive 17-14. In 2004, the Ducks were obliterated in Norman 31-7 in front of a national audience.
Oregon jumped out early and took a 7 point lead into halftime behind Paul Martinez’s clutch 41 yard field goal as time expired in the 2nd. Adrian Peterson stole the show in the second half and found no trouble showing the country why he was in the Heisman race, running all over the Ducks for 211 yards on the day and a crucial touchdown late in the game.
Oklahoma capitalized on a pair of Oregon interceptions in the 4th quarter and extended their lead to 33-20 with 3:12 to go. Faith shattered, Duck fans made their way for the exits. In a post game interview, Coach Bellotti told the media “I noticed some people leaving… I saw 10 to 15 fans walking out and I thought, ‘They’re going to be really mad when we come back and win.’” Let’s just say I’m happy I stuck around.
Enter Dennis Dixon. With just over three minutes left, Dixon goes 4-4 then scrambles untouched into the endzone to cap a 65 yard drive. 33-27
With 1:12 left on the clock, Oregon was forced to try an onside kick.
Thanks to a little flub by the video review team, Oregon “recovered” the ball after clearly touching it before it went 10 yards AND not even coming out of the pile with possession. This is a sore subject with Oklahoma fans to this day. Oregon was helped out again by a questionable pass interference call, and then Dixon hit Spencer Paysinger with a 24 yard touchdown to take a one point lead on the Sooners.
The game wasn’t over yet, however. On the ensuing kickoff, Oklahoma safety Reggie Smith took the return 54 yards all the way down to the Oregon 27, setting up kicker Garrett Hartley (4-4 on the day) for a game winning field goal with :02 remaining.
Final Score: Oregon 34, Oklahoma 33
Welcome to my series: “Ducks101: Rise to Prominence” I’ll be presenting moments that have defined Oregon football from the beginning of the Spread Offense era (circa 2005) to present. This is an intro to the recent history of the program for the newcomers, and a look back at the greatest moments for the long-time fans.
I felt the obligation to start this blog after standing around in the student section at games this year and finding that a whole lot of people couldn’t tell you who Kellen Clemens is, much less how they felt when he broke his ankle at Arizona. Living in Eugene and being a lifelong supporter of Oregon football, it is my duty to share my memories with those just finding out what it’s like to be a fan.
You have to know your history to Love your Ducks!