Oregon St. defeated Washington St. 42-10. Oregon defeated Arizona 44-41 in double overtime. As a result, the Civil War in twelve days will be for Pac-10 Championship, and the Rose Bowl. No strings attached. No tie breakers. No vote of college chancellors as was the case in 1964, the last time a similar showdown ensued, and the last time the Beavers went to the Rose Bowl.
ESPN will be there, and the college football world will be watching. The SEC, Big 10, and Big XII talk about how they have games like this, and that the Pac-10 rivalries really aren't that big a deal. Often, they are more right than most on the left coast would like to admit.
This is the chance for both the in state institutions. No beating the other guy just to spoil their season this time. Turns out the Pac-10 Conference has a Championship game too, and without bothering with divisional play. Both programs have arrived at the big time; are you really ready for some serious football?
Unlike the last two years, where the home team, with a lot on the line, lost to a spoiler that came in hot, both teams come in close to healthy. With no disrespect meant for either program, even the most rabid of fans have to recognize (whether they admit to it or not), that in both cases, the home team was damaged, trying as much to find a way to not lose as to win. The Ducks minus Dennis Dixon, and then the Beavers without Jacquizz Rodgers, were not close to at their best. Neither side would ever use that as an excuse, but it was a fact, and a huge factor.
The good news this time is that won't be the case. Both teams are reasonably healthy, especially in the key-player category.
Oregon St. may have suffered some damage to Brennan Olander, but that is about it as far as impacts on the current rotation. Oregon appeared to survive the duel in the desert with no new problems an extra week and a Turkey dinner won't solve as well.
As far as the exercise in Pullman goes, there really was nothing gained, and nothing learned. Sean Canfield completed 75% of his passes, Quizz carried for 165 yards, and totaled over 200 with receiving, and James Rodgers went over 100 in all-purpose yards as well. But anything less would have been cause for major concern.
Washington St. dressed only 58 players, and only 44 scholarship players. Further, 18 players in the regular rotation in last year's Cougar-Beaver game who did not graduate were not on the field today. Understand, that means that not only is Big Sky and Football Championship Series (D-IA) Eastern Washington, Oregon St.'s next opponent from the state to the north, better equipped right now to compete with the Beavers, so to is Central Washington! A Division II, NWAC Conference team. The Cougars are so badly outmanned right now that their opponents are lucky to be able to count the win as a DI win.
And it will take a while for Paul Wulff, or anyone else, to fix it. Injured players (rightfully) still get their scholarship dollars, and while those that have been bounced for bad grades, or worse, removed for legal reasons no longer absorb those dollars, you aren't allowed to just immediately spend them on another player. Assuming Pac-10 quality players are available and willing to come to Pullman, there still won't be as many there as in Seattle, Eugene, or Corvallis come time for spring ball.
The Ducks already knew about the challenges of playing a big game late in the season in Tucson, having lost Kellen Clemens and Dixon for the season the last two times they went down there. After last year, the Beavers could tell Chip Kelly, who is new to the deal, about how tough it is of late to play the ‘Cats in the desert in a big game.
What prompted Kelly's decision to gamble in his own territory on fourth down, which, along with a curious, and apparently phantom, or backwards, facemask penalty, almost resulted in the Civil War for the Holiday Bowl, may never be known. Fortunately, a portion of Oregon St. fans that openly proclaimed on the radio and the web this past week that they would rather see the Beavers go to that Holiday Bowl, or maybe the Emerald Bowl, than the Rose Bowl if it meant that the Ducks won in Tucson, won't have to answer to several hundred young members of Beavers nation for that view.
At least this time, it is the Beavers who had a breeze of a workout, and the Ducks had to empty the tank to get the win down there.