Oregon and Oregon State are a study in opposites
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Separated by only about 45 miles, Oregon and Oregon State couldn't be more different when it comes to football.
The flashy Ducks meet the more understated Beavers on Saturday in the 116th Civil War rivalry game, putting the spotlight on the contrasting programs.
With the help of mega-booster and Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Oregon is known for its state-of-the-art facilities and a myriad of flashy uniform combinations. The No. 5 Ducks have backed up their swagger in recent years by winning, going 44-7 under coach Chip Kelly.
On the other side is No. 16 Oregon State, nicknamed "Lunch Pail U" for the team's hard-working blue-collar mentality — which has helped it stage a striking turnaround this season.
Beavers coach Mike Riley and his Oregon counterpart seem as opposite as their teams.
Kelly, a no-nonsense New Englander who runs his team almost like a business, closed his practices and made injuries classified information. Known for his "Chipisms," sayings like "Every game is our Super Bowl," sometimes his approach is regarded as obstinate.
Riley grew up in Corvallis as the son of a former Beavers assistant coach and was a star quarterback at Corvallis High. He lets reporters and boosters into practice, and he openly discusses injuries. If there's a knock on him, it's that he's seen as too soft.
But there is a great deal of mutual respect among the two divergent programs.
"Oh gosh, I always think Mike Riley does a great job, I really do. It's not lipspeak, not coachspeak, it's not because it's the right thing to say. I think he has a good offensive mind," Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said.
Riley often praises Kelly and points to the up-tempo Ducks as altering landscape of college football: "They're talented and well-coached," he said.
For three weeks in October, both Oregon and Oregon State were the highest ranked teams from the same state in the AP Top 25.
The Ducks (10-1, 7-1) appeared to be cruising toward a berth in the BCS championship game until a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford last weekend at Autzen Stadium.
The loss — which toppled Oregon from the top of the AP rankings — kept the Ducks from clinching the Pac-12's northern division for a spot in the conference title game on Nov. 30. Oregon has won the last three Pac-12 championships.
To get to the league's title game, Oregon will have to beat the Beavers (8-2, 6-2) and hope that No. 15 UCLA (9-2, 6-2) beats No. 11 Stanford (9-2, 7-1) in Los Angeles on Saturday. By virtue of their victory over the Ducks, Stanford holds the head-to-head edge if they finish with the same division record.