When Oregon and Oregon St. get together for the Civil War, its always much more than a rivalry, its a clash, never mind contrast, in, well, just about everything.
Green and gold vs. orange and black. Spread vs. pro style. Vertical vs. horizontal defensive structure. Trendy vs. traditional. Brass colored horns vs. silver. A new standard in uniforms every week vs. special uniforms being throwbacks. Almost everything is different about a pair of similar sized state institutions located only minutes apart.
And over time, its proven its not a case of right or wrong, just different, and usually, as different as possible. While the Ducks current 4 game winning streak suggests that maybe the "era of Chip" might be definitive answer, right before that it was Mike "Jimminy Christmas" Riley that won 3 of 4.
More relevant than a history lesson this year is the question of whether this could be the last hurrah, or even a changing of the guard. There's considerable popular opinion that the "era of Chip" could be drawing to a close, and this could even be the last chapter of it. Meanwhile, Riley has already earned another year's extension to the contract for what he has publicly stated he wants to be his last job. Mike's not going anywhere, and there's no end to the theories of where Chip might go next, with any number of NCAA or NFL based possible reasons why.
Or Kelly might decide he's happy owning the region, and outlasts even Riley. There's really no predicting, because, just as with his approach to offense, there's no correlation between what anyone else thinks or does and what Kelly is apt to do. It's not that he isn't aware of what others are thinking and doing; Chip is smart enough that current events do influence him, but they do not define him, or his decisions.
There's also the thought that this Oregon St. team, one that could easily be 10-0 instead of 8-2 but for a few key events that the Beavers had the opportunity to make turn out different, could be the one best positioned to play spoiler as the 2008 Oregon team did to Oregon St., and then come back even stronger next season, with a roster full of multiple year starters.
We'll know the answer to some of these questions by tomorrow evening, and we won't know the answers to some of them for some time to come. But regardless of what those answers are, its bound to be another chapter in the colorful rivalry well worth experiencing.
It's Civil War time!