The Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers are two universities that are located in Oregon. Each year, they play each other in a football game. Football, as it happens, is a very popular sport that many people seem to enjoy.
Rumor has it that the winner of this game each year gets control of the state. The state actually gets renamed after the winner. You may not know this, but Oregon has actually been called “Duck State” for the last few years. Everyone has been required to wear green or yellow. It’s really bizarre that we all agree to this, but it’s what makes this state so great!
This rivalry really fascinates me. I didn’t attend either school, so I don’t have a dog in the fight. But after digging into the history of the game, I’ve become utterly hooked. Here are a few of my favorite highlights.
First, like all my articles, we begin in 1899. The Ducks won 38-0. Coincidentally, a few weeks later, Oregon State’s board voted to ban all athletics to save money. They were beaten so badly they just stopped playing the sport. Can you imagine that happening now? I feel like that should be a rule of the rivalry. If one of the teams loses by more than 30 points, that team has to stop playing the sport for at least a year. The two teams would not play again until 1902. OSU really had to do some soul searching. (Or just properly figure out how to play this brand new sport called football).
Next, we jump to 1910. The Ducks won that year 12-0, but the fun didn’t begin until after the game. Wikipedia lays out what happened, “fans of both teams began a verbal argument that escalated into exceedingly rowdy behavior as Ducks fans returned to the train station to leave. The UO’s public relations department spread stories of Oregon Agricultural College hooliganism to the statewide press, offending students of OAC and causing the rivalry to be suspended for 1911.”
I want in. I wish I was there for that. I have always wanted to be accused of hooliganism. I’d rather be called a hooligan than a millennial. What were they arguing about that caused the game to be canceled the next year?
“Excuse me sir, your team did not play up to snuff. I laugh at your inability to score points. The newspapers will have a field day with your misfortunes! Just you wait, 100 years from now, a successful shoe company will make us one of the most popular destinations for college athletes!”
1915. There were 47 punts in this game. How is that even possible? Did both teams just give up after first down? Maybe this was an actual punting contest? Football was still pretty new at that point, so it’s entirely plausible that both teams agreed to a friendly punt competition? Punting could have been the flavor of the month. Like how today almost every team is running the spread offense, back then, every team was obsessed with punting. I mean, can you blame them? Imagine the punting trash talk back then.
“Gee, opposing players, it looks like you have the ball at a spot in the field that is inconvenient to you! I can’t hear you all the way from the other side of the field! 100 years from now, our baseball team will win multiple national championships, and be the talk of the town! However, they will not be properly compensated for their actions. What a shame.”
1920-1921. Both games end in a scoreless tie. I think this is the greatest accomplishment by either team in this rivalry. It feels like both teams put their differences aside, and really respected each other for these two years. I like to think they shook hands at the coin toss, and said, “Hey, we traditionally don’t like each other, but it would be a real hoot if we actually worked together, and didn’t score a single point this year! I mean hey, it’s the 20’s, and things are going great!”
The winner of the game is awarded the platypus trophy. That’s cool and all, but I feel like we can add some things. Here is a quick list of some ideas I had:
The losing team has to transfer to the other school.
The losing team has to take care of the other team’s mascot in real life. For example, if the Ducks lose, every player on the team has to take care of a beaver. And vice versa.
The winning team gets to pick one player on the other team to join them next year. Not sure how that would work with scholarships or FAFSA, but they can figure it out.
The losing team has to do an actual civil war reenactment for the winning team at the time and location of their choice. History is fun!
The losing team has to change their name to the winning team’s name. For example, if the Ducks lose, they now become the Oregon Beavers, and if Oregon State loses, they now become the Oregon State Ducks. Think of all the merch opportunities! Did you think about them? I really liked the mugs! Alright! Moving on!
The game is this weekend will be another chapter in the long, interesting history of the Civil War. I hope the game will go down as a classic, and maybe, just maybe, the word hooliganism will make a comeback.