Lost in the hoopla of Oregon's winning streak over Wash11ngton is that the Ducks are currently riding a six-game winning streak over the OSU Beavers, the third-longest streak in the history of the rivalry. Now, I am very aware that comparing the two rivalries is inappropriate; the energy between the fanbases is much different. With Oregon-Wash11ngton, there's a palpable vitriol between the green-shirted heroes and the purple-shirted dunderheads, like a couple who broke up after two years of dating, but still see each other all the time because they have the same friends. They know everything about each other, they despise each other, and they want nothing more than to see the other one gain 25 pounds and start dating a fry cook with halitosis and an ugly personality. We want Wash11ngton to be miserable, and they want the same for us. Not so with Oregon State.
The term "little brother" is a bit demeaning, to be sure, but it implies a family connection, and the theme of family is important in this rivalry. All over the state of Oregon, there are families and communities where members have gone to both UO and OSU, and they bring that rivalry back home with them. Countless dinner conversations have been had debating Yvenson Bernard vs. Jonathan Stewart, or how Oregon will never have a quarterback as swagtastic as Terry Baker. They used "swagtastic" in the 1960s, right? It's fitting that this game is played on Thanksgiving weekend, because it feels like the family Thanksgiving backyard football game. The late autumn air is crisp and biting, there are guys that went to the same high school on opposite sides of the ball, and you never really know how the game will turn out until you hit the field. But make no mistake; There may be blood ties, but this is still a war.
I bore witness to the last two Oregon State wins in this rivalry. In 2006, the Ducks travelled to Corvallis, and battled it out in a rainstorm. The game ended with Matt Evenson's game-winning field goal kick being blocked. I got home after the game, and found my cell phone had fallen to the bottom of my backpack, and was floating like a dead goldfish in a two-inch puddle of water. A year later, Oregon was still reeling from the loss of Dennis Dixon and the collapse of a national-title run, and the Beavers came into Autzen and took advantage. Oregon had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but Mike Bellotti and company massively botched their clock management, and the field goal team, after sprinting on and lining up at warp speed, missed the field goal. In overtime, James Rodgers did James Rodgers things, and the Beavers stopped the Ducks response.
A year later, the Ducks came into Corvallis as the beaten-up ones, and the ones with no shot at a Rose Bowl. And then...
The Beavers haven't won since.
So we may feel a kinship to our bucktoothed brothers and sisters up the road, and we may want them to hold their own against the rest of the college football world. But this is Civil War week, and little brothers deserves ever purple nurple, wedgie, swirly, noogie, and Hertz donut they have coming to them.