Sitting here in Springfield, this guy without a ticket sits just over a mile away from Autzen Stadium with friends awaiting the start of the Civil War with the biggest stakes ever in the 113-year history of the state rivalry. It's fun to think that, just a few months ago, we were sitting on a Thursday night awaiting the start of the football season as the Ducks took the field against Boise State. That night, Oregon took a beating to the Broncos, falling 19-8... and set themselves up for a season of failure in the process. But Chip Kelly's team has persevered, just as Mike Riley's Beavers have rebounded from their now-traditional slow start to get back in the race for the Pac-10.
If history is to hold, the Beavers should come into Autzen as the favorite in this game. But after Jeremiah Masoli established his presence on the national stage with his breakout performance in last year's Civil War, this Ducks team appears poised enough to handle the pressure on their shoulders. After all, while Oregon State came into last year's game with everything to lose, both teams this year have the Rose Bowl at stake.
This game should come down to which offense can establish its style of play more quickly. The Beavers attack with Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield, playing a powerfully shifty game to unsettle defenses before his brother James torches secondaries with many a reception of well-aimed Sean Canfield passes. Oregon begins with Masoli, who executes the team's base zone-read option look with efficiency and poise to match or perhaps even surpass his predecessor, Dennis Dixon... then they throw opposing defenses off balance with the elusive moves of redshirt freshman LaMichael James and a subtly strong passing game centered around future NFL starting tight end Ed Dickson.
This should be a great game... one in which the state of Oregon can be proud regardless of the outcome. Here's to hoping it is a clean, hard-played game that results in a finish to remember for decades to come...