The last time the Rose Bowl was so definitively on the line in the annual Civil War game, it was the Oregon Ducks that had aspirations of a New Year's trip to Pasadena.
CORVALLIS — The last time the Rose Bowl was so definitively on the line in the annual Civil War game, it was the Oregon Ducks that had aspirations of a New Year's trip to Pasadena.
The Oregon State Beavers dashed those hopes, 23-13 in Corvallis in 2000.
This Saturday it's the Beavers who are smelling roses. If No. 17 Oregon State (8-3, 7-1) defeats 19th-ranked Oregon in Corvallis, the Beavers will go to the Rose Bowl. And should they get there, they'll have a chance to avenge a blowout 45-14 loss to Penn State earlier this season.
But the Ducks come first.
Going into the Civil War in 2000, Oregon was 9-1 overall and 7-0 in the Pac-10. The Ducks were ranked No. 5.
But the No. 8 Beavers, then 9-1 overall and 6-1 in conference, jumped out to a 17-0 lead and the Ducks couldn't catch up. Quarterback Joey Harrington got intercepted five times and lost a fumble. Afterward, he cried on his father's shoulder.
"We knew what was at stake," cornerback Rashad Bauman said after that game. "We know as soon as the clock hit double-zero that the Rose Bowl hopes were gone."
Jonathan Smith threw for 246 yards and two scores, both to Robert Prescott. Ken Simonton ran for 113 yards and a touchdown.
The Beavers' win resulted in a three-way tie for the Pac-10 title. Washington, which beat Oregon State earlier in the season, went to the Rose Bowl.
Oregon State went on to the Fiesta Bowl, where they defeated Notre Dame 41-9. Oregon defeated Texas 35-30 in the Holiday Bowl.
The next year, Oregon was also playing for the Rose Bowl, albeit in a more roundabout way. The Ducks had already clinched a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. For the trip to Pasadena, they needed a victory in the Civil War (which they got 17-14), higher ranked teams to lose and the BCS computer rankings to swing their way. That's didn't happen, but Oregon did end the season with a 38-16 victory over Colorado in Tempe and finished No. 2 in the AP poll.
This is the first season since 2000 that both the Ducks and Beavers are ranked going into the Civil War.
The Beavers and USC each have one conference loss, but Oregon State wins the Rose Bowl tiebreaker if both teams finish that way because of the 27-21 victory over the Trojans earlier this season.
It would be Oregon State's first appearance in Pasadena on New Year's since 1965.
Oregon State is riding a six-game winning streak, the latest being a 19-17 victory at Arizona this past Saturday. The Beavers overcame a late dropped touchdown pass and a blown extra point, marching 73 yards in 1:19. It ended in the final seconds with Justin Kahut's game-winning field goal.
The Beavers have won five straight Civil Wars at Reser Stadium. They've won the last two Civil Wars, including last year's 38-31 double-overtime victory at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon State also an eight-game winning streak at Reser Stadium.
Should the Ducks win, everyone would have to wait. USC hosts Notre Dame on Saturday evening before visiting UCLA on Dec. 6. If the Trojans beat the Bruins, they'll claim the title and the automatic Rose Bowl berth.
If the Trojans lose to UCLA, that would set up a three-way tie with Oregon and Oregon State for the conference title. The Beavers would still go to the Rose Bowl based on the tiebreaker system.