As many around here are well aware of there is a big State of Oregon football game coming up this weekend. And as many who bleed orange and black know it is not a game we are necessarily looking forward to. The Beavs are coming off a big win against the Huskies last week, and the UofO is coming off a big loss to the Trojans, but in reality I’m not sure it makes that much difference. So for a moment I want to look back and look forward all at once.
This holiday weekend, I will most likely be on the road during the game, which is the first time I may miss a live viewing of a CW game since 1998.
In 1998 I was also on the road for the game. I was helping my brother with a move to Portland, and because of this and that in the unpacking, we got on the road later than expected. As a kid with my family, and then as an OSU undergraduate with my friends, I sat through many a losing efforts, but there was always something in the basic tradition of the Saturday college football game that made it ok in the end. But once I left college, that sitting in the rain to watch the Beavs lose again and again did weigh down on my overall expectations, and as such in the late 1990s I wasn’t too engaged.
And in 1998 I was definitely not in the mood to sit through watching another possible CW loss to the then ranked 15th in the country UO Ducks. To be even more brutally honest I actually totally forgot that the game was being played at the same time as we were on the road South. It was when we stopped for dinner and the game was on the TV that I realized the game was even going on. Beyond just the game being on there was this buzz going on with the game. Going into the fourth quarter the game was tied and I became interested!
The game looked done with the Ducks scoring with only about two and half minutes left (to take a 31 to 24 lead). We had a schedule to keep and had to get on the road again, but this time we made sure to get the game on the radio.
Against the odds (or as a preview of things to come?) OSU drove the field and Jonathan Smith threw to Tim Alexander for the tying TD. No going for two this time though, that type of decision had to wait to become famous in 2006, PAT was good and the game went to OT. First OT went to another tie due to an interference call that gave the Ducks a second life. We went to the second OT, and this time the Ducks only scored a FG. Then the Beavs got the ball and, well the rest is history isn’t it?
The Beavs went into a game very much underdogs and came out winning. It was more than just one historical game against the in-State rival, for the win propelled the program into the Dennis Erickson years, and then the return of Mike Riley. 1998 gave us a sneak peak glimpse of a winning season for the first time in 28 seasons, and 1998 ushered in winning seasons, bowl games, NFL caliber stars, and yes, brought about expectations for Oregon State football not seen in Corvallis since the Giant Killers and Terry Baker years.
When I finally got home that night in 1998 things had changed in Oregon State football.
Ok, now just what the heck does this have to do with 2011? Am I saying that just because I will be on the road again during a Civil War game that the Beavs are going to win again? Well, hmm, I sure wish that is what will happen! I may have some very underlying implications that this is a Civil War game and anything can happen, but alas that really is not my true meaning. I think the 2011 Ducks are going to win this game.
So what is my main meaning here? What I’m thinking here is that we have seemed to come almost full circle to 1998 and the expectations are back down, for both this game and this football program. We are going into a Civil War game with basically no expectations to win. Even last year at Reser, and with a Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield, I really think there was a feeling the Beavs could play spoilers at some unconscious level.
To squeak out a little more mileage from this on the road analogy I believe that this game is harbinger of the past and is an indicator of the future. That said wherever it takes us is a road I’m willing to take, for I have been traveling with OSU football through a lot, and my expectations have taken many turns over the years. But whatever my expectations are this time, I will be sure to have the radio on.
Heck it is the Civil War game!
Go Beavs! Beat the Ducks!
Photo Credits: Jonathan Smith, Gazette-Times image; Sean Mannion, Andy Wooldridge