Its Civil War week, and most Duck fans are feeling awfully confident about an Oregon victory on Saturday. However, we know better, and its Juju, not rankings or point spreads, that will determine the outcome of this game--and Juju hates cockiness. Therefore, in order to ensure the proper amount of PANIC! and respect the power of the mighty Juju, I choose to relive some miesry at the hands of Oregon State.
Before the epic stakes of the last two Civil War games, the 2000 Civil War was by far the biggest game in the recent history of the rivalry. After a steady, ten year climb from mediocrity, this was supposed to be Oregon's introduction as a big time national player. The Ducks, unranked to start the year, were 9-1 and ranked #5 in the country rolling into Corvallis, the only loss being a narrow four point decision againt Wisconsin at Camp Randall. Oregon had run through the Pac-10, defeating the entire conference, including handing #6 Washington their only loss of the season at Autzen Stadium. A win would propel Oregon to the Rose Bowl, where the sheer mediocrity of the Big Ten that season would virtually ensure the Ducks' first Rose Bowl win in 83 years.
Oregon State was even more of a surprise that season. The year before, in Dennis Erickson's first year, the Beavers finished 7-5, losing the Oahu Bowl. It had been their first bowl game since the 1965 Rose Bowl, a shellacking at the hands of Michigan, and their first winning season in thirty years. But Oregon State, who didn't even enter the rankings until week 8, were now 9-1 themselves, their only loss coming in Husky Stadium. An Oregon State win would not only knock Oregon out of the Rose Bowl, but give the Beavers a shot at Roses themselves if Washington fell in Pullman later that evening.
Oregon marched down the field on the first possession but, in what would be a trend that day, Joey Harrington threw an interception to Jake Cookus at the Oregon five yard line. Beaver quarteback Jonathan Smith then connected with Robert Prescott for not one, but two first quarter touchdowns.
Oregon again drove into scoring range in the second quarter, only to see a 44 yard field goal missed by Josh Frenkel, and Oregon State turned that into a field goal of their own. Oregon was finally able to put some points up when Harrington scored on a quarterback sneak, giving the Beavers a 17-7 halftime lead.
However, the Beavers responded after halftime, and a Ken Simonton TD run put them up 23-7 (OSU missed the extra point). The Ducks were able to muster up one more score early in the fourth on a TD run by Maurice Morris to close to within ten (a two point try to get it to eight failed). Harrington was able to lead the Ducks deep into Beaver territory once more, but fumbled the game away for his sixth turnover of the game, dashing Oregon's dream of Roses for nine more seasons. It was Harrington's one truly bad game as a Duck, with five interceptions and the fumble costing Oregon a real shot in a game where they only lost by ten.
A three way tie atop the Pac-10 ensued and Washington, who throttled Wazzu later that evening, was awarded the Rose Bowl berth against 8-3 Purdue. Oregon State, with its 10-1 record, received an at-large bid to the Fiesta Bowl where, despite grumbling from a 9-2 Notre Dame team about having to play such an unprestigious opponent as the Beavers, they throttled the Irish 41-9. Oregon was sent to the Holiday Bowl, where they would eek out a five point win over Texas.
Despite Oregon knocking the Beavers out of the Rose Bowl two seasons running, it wasn't that long ago that the positions were reversed. Is there a greater pain in sports than your in-state rival knocking you out of the Rsoe Bowl, allowing your most hated rival to waltz into the game that should have been yours?. We beg of you, Juju, please do not give us that feeling again. We know that the power lies with you alone.