Monday, November 19, 2018

Oregon "Civil War" Football History

On Friday, November 23, 2018, Oregon State University football team will play the University of Oregon for the 122nd time. 

Oregon Agricultural College (as OSU was called then) began playing collegiate football in 1893 when the school had only 204 students.  Rules of play and eligibility were different then so OAC could field a team which included several people who were not current college students, such as a faculty member the son of the school president and some students in the preparatory (high school) division. 

The University of Oregon fielded a team the next year and the rivalry began. It is the seventh oldest rivalry game and the oldest on the west coast.  Oregon State won the first game 16-0. Over the decades, Oregon has won 64 games; Oregon State has won 47.  Ten games ended in a tie, including a 3-3 tie in 1914.
Oregon vs. Oregon State,  1914
The next year, OAC played its first game outside the western United States, when the team traveled to the Midwest to play Michigan Agricultural College (Michigan State). The Beavers won that game but not that year's  one against the University of Oregon.

During the remainder of the circa 1920 era, Oregon State won the 1917 game played in Portland and the 1923 and 1925 games played in Eugene.  The 1920 and 1921 games ended in 0-0 ties; Oregon won the remaining 5 games.

A series of  mounted footballs commemorate the 1925 season in which Oregon State compiled a 7-2 record.

In those years, the Oregon-Oregon State games was called the Oregon Classic or the State Championship.  It wasn't dubbed the “civil war” until 1929.
During halftime of the “civil war” OAC students would form a line, hands on shoulders of the person in front, and march in a serpentine around the field while waving banners and cheering.

After a victory, fans would assemble and on a march down to the Mary's River to watch Methodist minister J. R. N. Bell toss his top hat into the Mary's River.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

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