I must say upfront I have nothing against the Beavers. In fact, my father was an OSU grad and there is photographic evidence of me sitting on the Easter Bunny's lap sporting a Benny the Beaver shirt, circa 1989. That said, I am an Oregon grad and I spent four of my best years braving the student section and bleeding green and yellow.
Five minutes till noon last Thursday, I boarded the Duck bus and was warmly greeted with the friendly tune Oregon alums know and love - the fight song. As I walked down the aisle to my seat one man played the tune on his yellow Duck lips - without taking a breath - as others sang and clapped along. "Let us gather round a cheer her, Chant her glory Oregon." When our last passenger arrived he took his seat next to me and at 12:03pm we were on our way to one of the biggest Civil War games the state of Oregon has ever seen.
My seatmate introduced himself as Anthony, Oregon alum '05. He opened his duffle bag, grabbed a Coors Light for himself and offered one to me. We soon discovered we both spent time as children living in Littleton, Colorado and even bonded over Casa Bonita, a restaurant few people outside of the Denver metro area would recognize, unless you've seen it on South Park.
Along for the ride were a handful of Beaver fans, brave enough, and dedicated enough to ride along with a bus filled with their rivals. There was no bad blood or fighting, maybe a little heckling, but only in the name of friendly competition. One young Beaver fan was even paid $40 to glamour walk down the aisle of the bus sporting an OSU flag around his neck, giving everyone a good laugh.
While on board I got a chance to talk with Amanda Gow, the organizer of the Duck bus. As a season ticker holder, she was always driving over for games, so she thought, why not start a bus to safely transport fans to the valley? And the Duck bus was born.
"It's been a great year, we've had so much fun. Every bus is just packed with great Ducks fans, this time we had a couple Beavers, but we love them anyway. And next year we'll actually be doing a Beaver bus as well," says Gow.
The rest of the ride was filled with Duck football trivia, a few jokes at the Beavers expense, game highlights, at least one more fight song sing along and many wishing to hear the now famous "I Love My Ducks" song.
We arrived in Eugene three hours before kickoff with plenty of time to tailgate. Walking through what seemed like hundreds of RVs, canopies and BBQs you could see the civility in the Civil War - Ducks and Beavers all huddled together around beer pong tables and fire pits. There was definitely one thing both sides could agree on - it was freezing cold. You would think after attending many home games over the past six years I would know better, but in a rush that morning I only put on one thin pair of socks. By the end of the game my feet were ice blocks and I had acquired a pair of overpriced gloves to keep my hands warm.
A number of both stuffed beavers and ducks hung from ropes and there was plenty of fill-in-the-blank signage, but overall the game seemed to go pretty smoothly, at least from where I stood. We're all Oregonians after all, unlike in other games, a fan in the opposing teams colors very well might be related to you. Though, I did witness one fight break out early on between two Duck fans - a petite girl sucker punched a rather large dude. Both were kicked out.
After the big, but close, win, we rode home in a bus full of talk of how LaMichael James is a god, the return of LeGarrette Blount and possible plans to attend the Rose Bowl. Strange Brew played on the bus' little TVs and most people drifted off to sleep, dreaming of roses, no doubt.