Members of the Southern Oregon Duck Club listen in on a call from Oregon football coach Mike Bellotti on Tuesday at the Rogue Valley Country Club.

UO fans hope Ducks play spoiler

There was lots of green.

There was lots of yellow.

There were balloons and streamers, the Oregon head coach on speakerphone and staunch fans at their luncheon tables.

What there wasn't was much of was sentiment favoring an Oregon State win in the Civil War football game Saturday against Oregon, a result that would put the Beavers in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1965.

This was, after all, the weekly meeting of the Southern Oregon Duck Club at Rogue Valley Country Club.

"I'm no USC fan," Steve Williston of Medford said Tuesday at the gathering, "but it would be sweet for us to knock them (Beavers) out of the Rose Bowl. It would be real sweet."

OSU and Southern Cal are tied for the Pac-10 Conference lead with 7-1 records, one game ahead of Oregon. The Beavers have the tiebreaker edge over the Trojans by virtue of a 27-21 victory in September, and the only thing between OSU and a New Year's Day trip to Pasadena, Calif., is a formidable Oregon team.

"I think they're (Ducks) gonna play well," said Williston, a season ticket holder for 20 years. "They've played well, they're rested and the Beavers are going to choke. They're going to feel the pressure."

Chuck Costanzo of Grants Pass stood nearby and was in agreement. He rooted for the OSU baseball team in the College World Series in recent years and was happy to see USC fall to the Beavers two months ago.

But if the Ducks stick a needle in Oregon State's Rose Bowl bubble, that's just fine.

"You know what," laughed Costanzo, "I always beat my little brother up, and I loved it."

He anticipates a difficult time for Oregon.

"I think the Ducks are going to beat them, but who knows," he said. "The Beavers are pretty motivated."

Ike Eisenstein has been a Duck fan for 37 years, a result of his son and daughter attending Oregon. They got him started on football games and he's been hooked since.

It will be an Oregon victory, he said, remembering 2000, when the Ducks were in the same position to go to the Rose Bowl but lost out because of a 23-13 setback in Corvallis.

"They are just gonna get revenge for the game we had back in 2000," said Eisenstein. "I hope they survive this game and spoil it for the Oregon State fans. A couple have been very obnoxious. I've got a lot of friends who are Oregon State fans, too."

One Duck fan who won't have even "the least bit" of sympathy if the Beavers lose is Chad Cota, the former Ashland player who starred for the Ducks when they played in the 1995 Rose Bowl against Penn State.

He acknowledged it would be good for the state if the Beavers were there, but that's not where he places his rooting interests.

"It would be fun to play the spoiler this week, for sure," said Cota. "And that's what I'm looking for the Ducks to do. It's not like Oregon isn't playing for anything. We're playing for a better bowl, and we're having a heck of a season ourselves."

A win would put the Ducks in the Holiday Bowl. A loss could land them in the Sun, Las Vegas or Emerald bowls.

When UO coach Mike Bellotti got on the speakerphone, he told Cota — who played safety in the NFL for nine years — to feel free to suit up for the game, drawing laughter from the audience.

Bellotti concurred there's plenty to motivate his players, including payback for last year's 38-31 defeat to the Beavers in Autzen Stadium and a chance to tie for the conference title, should USC lose its final game to UCLA.

Bellotti said a point of emphasis for the Ducks, who haven't played since a 55-45 win over Arizona Nov. 15, has been improved third-down play — on both sides of the ball.

"The good thing for Oregon is they've had two weeks to prepare," said Cota. "I'm sure (defensive coordinator Nick) Aliotti will have the troops ready to stop that offense."

"Again," he added, "it's a rivalry game, and anything can happen. I think it'll be a hard-fought battle; a close game is what I'm looking for. It's kind of been the visiting team, at least in the last few years, that's won, so I'm hoping we do it again this year."

There were those who said they prefer an Oregon win but would otherwise root for the Beavers in the Rose Bowl.

Michelle Johannes of Medford and her sister, Reena Bernardo of Bend — their maiden name is Eklund — experience "an un-Civil War" week at this time of year. Michelle went to Oregon, Reena to Oregon State, and the latter might not be able to see the game.

"She's mad," said Michelle. "I'll keep her updated on the Duck scoring."

But Michelle roots for all the Pac-10 teams in bowl games, and that won't change this year.

Ray White of Medford said if the Beavers win, "hats off to them, and it'll knock USC out of the Rose Bowl. That's the good part.

"I used to always dream of a game when Oregon and Oregon State would be playing for the Rose Bowl, when both were 2-9, so it's fun to have it mean something rather than just being an afterthought in the Pac-10 races. It really makes the game much more interesting."

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail

Share This Story