CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Mike Riley thought he was missing something on the field.
Just a couple minutes after Brandin Cooks had run in a 48-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter of Oregon State's 62-14 demolition of California Saturday night, a roar went up through cold, drizzly Reser Stadium.
"I was back on the bench talking to someone and I heard the crowd go crazy," Riley said.
Fans were cheering not because anything was happening on the field, but because the scoreboard flashed a final from down the road in Eugene: Stanford 17, Oregon 14. The top-ranked Ducks had gone down to defeat and the stage was set for the 116th Civil War.
Oregon State (8-2, 6-2) will be hoping to knock off the Ducks for the first time in the rivalry game since an overtime thriller in 2007 at Autzen Stadium. Oregon (10-1, 7-1) needs to beat the Beavers and hope for a Stanford loss against UCLA in order to keep its hopes for a fourth-straight Pac-12 championship alive.
"There's a little more at stake," against the Ducks this year, Beavers cornerback Rashaad Reynolds said of the past two Civil Wars, which Oregon State entered with a losing record.
This year, the Beavers are poised for a decent bowl berth, and they enter the Oregon game coming off their most complete performance of the season, a total domination of the Golden Bears. Quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 325 yards after regaining the starting job he lost to Cody Vaz early in the year. A big night (128 yards) from Terron Ward helped establish the running game. All told, the Beavers rolled up 559 total yards against Cal, and the defense forced two lost fumbles and an interception.
"I feel like we are peaking at the right time," Ward said.
Despite the big win, the Beavers dropped a spot to No. 16 in the Associated Press poll on Saturday. The Ducks fell to No. 5 after having the nation's longest winning streak stopped at 13 games. Oregon also dropped to No. 5 in the BCS standings, while Oregon State was No. 15.
Oregon State has been competitive in only one of the last four Civil Wars — a 37-33 loss in 2009. The Beavers were not even a speed bump for the Ducks in 2010 and 2011. Oregon won 37-20 two years ago en route to the BCS Championship game and 49-21 last year as a prelude to the Rose Bowl.
For the past two seasons, the Beavers haven't had a bowl game to play in after falling to the Oregon juggernaut. There is a distinct feeling around the team that this year could be different.
The Beavers are the third-ranked defense in the conference and they could possess the run-stopping ability and experience in the secondary to slow the Ducks high-powered offense, which is averaging 51.1 points per game even after getting stuck in neutral against the Cardinal.
The game will be played at Reser, where the Beavers are 5-0 this season. And unlike the Ducks, who have pretty much taken on the company line about no one game being more important than any other, Oregon State's players are open about how motivated they are to take down their rivals.
"It is unexplainable how much it means to me," said senior receiver Markus Wheaton.