Wednesday, November 28, 2001/lk
Something tells me there's a football game this weekend.
Seahawks versus Chargers, right?
Just kidding. I may be from Washington, but I still understand the significance of the famed Civil War -- especially the past few years. No true Northwest football fan could ever forget the double-overtime thriller in Corvallis three years back.
Last year's game was nothing short of spectacular either -- depending on who you were rooting for. Although I claim no loyalties to either the Ducks or Beavers, I traditionally pull for the underdog in virtually every scenario.
Seeing as how the Beavers were the perennial bottom-feeders in the Pac-10 for the better part of the last century, it should be no secret toward which side I was leaning (hint: rhymes with "believer").
But at the risk of offending many a local Duck fan, I plan to remain objective for this year's battle for state bragging rights. Being a new fish in these waters, I shall decline my podium of pontification and remain squarely on the fence.
May the best team win, I say. May the Ducks represent the conference well in whichever bowl game they are invited, be it the Fiesta, Holiday or Rose. May the Beavers qualify for any bowl, even if it is the Vicks Mentholatum Bowl presented by Spam. (At 6-5, Beaver fans should be so lucky.)
For the sake of this column -- not to mention my own personal safety -- let it be documented that I am now completely and totally indifferent. I prefer to stay out of this and any war, civil or uncivil.
So why write a column if you're not going to take a stand? Because Northwest college football is brimming with so many boiling hot topics right now that I can't keep a lid on it.
Huskies vs. Hurricanes
No doubt this game warmed the hearts of every non-purple-and-gold football fan the world over. Whether you're a Duck, Beaver or Cougar fan, you uncontrollably cheered the 65-7 pasting that the hated Huskies endured last Saturday at the hands of No. 1 ranked Miami. Talk about a shellacking! You can't even call that a shellacking. That sort of destruction almost deserves its own word: blistering, ravishing, plundering . . . flambe-ing?
No Husky fan can ever say anything to minimize the utter humiliation that shook their proud program to its very foundation. Say whatever you want to about the 51-3 hurting the Huskies put on my Cougars in the 2000 Apple Cup. Go on about how you "beat" the Cougs this year and almost every year. You still lost 65-7 on national television. Next.
Washington State vs. Iowa
Talk about a dud, right? Not so fast. Preseason maybe, but this year's Sun Bowl matchup might surprise the average football fan. If nothing else, you should see a full-scale offensive exhibition as the Pac-10's top passer, Jason Gesser, guides the 9-2 Cougs past the hapless Hawkeyes, whose most notable victory this season came against Penn State.
The only reason Iowa (6-5) is in a bowl is that every other team in the Big Ten collapsed along with them. They're in by default. Laying waste to Iowa won’t do much for the Cougars' final standing in the polls, but a New Year's Eve dismantling of the Hawkeyes should take the sting out of this year's Apple Cup collapse.
Portland State vs. The Numbers
Despite finishing the season with a four-game win streak, a 7-4 record and in second place in the Big Sky Conference, the Vikings were denied a bid in the NCAA 1-AA playoffs. In the end, it came down to the numbers, and unfortunately, the playoff committee didn’t consider offensive numbers.
The fact that Portland State ranked fourth in the nation in total offense (477 ypg) and seventh in passing offense (290 ypg) didn't help their cause, because the number that stuck out most for the selection committee was "4" -- as in four losses. Since two of those losses came against Idaho State and SW Texas State, the Vikings will have to wait until next season to try and overcome Montana.
Oregon vs. Texas -- The Rematch
Back to the real issue at hand. Which national powerhouse awaits the Ducks after this weekend's Civil War? No disrespect to the Beavers, but at 5-5, they will have to take a back seat.
This year, all eyes are on the Pac-10 champ and a possible rematch with No. 3-ranked Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. No one forgets last year’s 35-30 Holiday Bowl thriller, and if the Ducks continue their late-game magic on a national stage New Year's Day, this could go down as the most memorable season in Oregon football history.
But if last year taught Duck fans anything, you can never look past your rival. There’s a large den of Beavers outside Autzen Stadium who would love to spoil the party.