What to watch for in the 121st Civil War

How can this year’s Civil War game matter with so little on the line?

Oregon State is concluding one of the worst seasons in school history.

Oregon is bowl eligible, but a program that reached the national championship game a short three seasons ago no longer resides in the pantheon of college football royalty.

Still, the 121st edition of the Civil War matters, and it will continue to resonate with fans on both sides of an in-state rivalry where there is virtually no neutral ground.

You’re either a Beaver or Duck. Your favorite mascot is either Benny the Beaver or The Duck. It's a game that divides the state and sometimes households.

For me, growing up in Columbus, Ohio, the biggest event every year was the Ohio State-Michigan game in late November.

True confession: I once arrived at a Civil War game seven hours prior to kickoff so I could watch the Ohio State-Michigan game on television in the press box, sequestered in the stat crew room at Autzen Stadium.

It has often been said that you can throw out the records in rivalry games, so maybe we’re in store for another classic Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Even if it’s a dud, it has to be better than the 0-0 tie in 1983 known as the “Toilet Bowl.”

Here’s to hoping for a competitive game that comes down to a memorable play in the final minutes.

2017 Civil War: 5 things to watch

1. Justin Herbert trying to get revenge for losing against Oregon State last season. As a true freshman last season, Herbert lost in Corvallis. 

2. Royce Freeman's last game at Autzen Stadium. During his four-year career, Freeman has set school records for both rushing yards and total touchdowns. 

3. Ryan Nall has had two big Civil War performances, can he have a third? He scored five touchdowns combined in the past two Civil War games.  

4. If the Beavers win, a nightmarish season would be salvaged. It would be Oregon State's second Civil War victory in a row. 

5. If the Ducks win they would be guaranteed a winning season under first-year coach Willie Taggart. That might not sound like much after the school’s recent successes, but let’s not forget Oregon finished 4-8 last season.

How to watch the game

What: Civil War football game

Records: Oregon 6-5 (3-5 Pac-12); Oregon State 1-10 (0-8 Pac-12)

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene

TV: ESPN2

ghorowitz@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/ghorowitz

Oregon Ducks Insider Pete Martini also contributed to this story.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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