Tonight a good number of televisions in and around the Columbus, Ohio area will be tuned to a football game featuring two Oregon teams. That doesn’t happen very often. In fact, much of tonight’s “Civil War” will be unprecedented. Never before in the history of this rivalry has the Pac 10 championship been up for grabs. Never have Oregon and Oregon State both been in a position to win a right to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl. I guess you should never say never.
Oregon (9-2) is a 10 point favorite in this one, and is playing at home. Oregon State (8-3) has been a good road team this year however. Of their 3 losses only one has been on the road and that came in a close game at USC. Oregon State beat Cal pretty handily on the road, but the environment Thursday night will be much more intense.
So who would Ohio State rather play? I suppose that depends on who you talk to. Obviously the players and coaches for Ohio State are going to be PC and say it doesn’t matter, they are both high quality opponents, blah, blah. Rob Oller of the Dispatch wrote what most people are probably thinking about this one-
On the scale of how it best helps Ohio State, the weight of winning needs to tip Oregon’s way. So for one night, “Go Ducks!” should replace “Go Bucks!” among Ohio State fans. Playing No. 7 Oregon instead of No. 16 Oregon State in the Rose Bowl would give No. 8 Ohio State a better opportunity to obfuscate if not obliterate the bad national vibes from its recent history of losing bowl games.
Is Ohio State still trying to repair it’s national reputation? Sure, but let’s not get too carried away here. If you ask around the country I would be willing to bet that everyone would share the opinion that the Big Ten is going through a down period right now, but that Ohio State is clearly the class of the conference and has been for several years. Even the craziest of Ohio State fans would have to submit that this team isn’t a National Championship caliber team this year. That we are outright Big Ten champs still comes as a bit of a surprise given the way the season was going for a spell. A loss to Oregon/Oregon State or a win against either isn’t going to matter much for OSU’s ‘reputation’ in my opinion.
Oregon would be a very tough game for the Buckeyes. They run an offense that we have some trouble with. They are fast and deceptive. Masoli makes excellent reads. Freshman LaMichael James is outstanding. So the question is Buckeye fans, would you rather have the toughest game, or the better chance to win?