It's not often that you'll find Buckeyes, Hawkeyes, Spartans, Wildcats and other Big Ten fanbases all coming together on something, but that's exactly what you'll see when the Civil War kicks off Saturday night. For one night at least, millions of Midwesterners will be bona fide Ducks fans.
Should Oregon win, USC with games against Notre Dame and an equally bad UCLA, slides into the Rose Bowl, freeing up a BCS spot for the Buckeyes. Should that happen, Iowa likely gets the nod over Sparty to move up into the Capital One slot due to the state of Iowa's ability to empty out for a bowl game. Shonn vs. Knowshon? Give the people what they want to see!
Michigan State would then move up to the Outback to tackle another SEC team (LSU would be fun) and Northwestern would be heading to San Antonio to take on someone from the Big 12. It's a win for the Buckeyes, a win for the conference's balance sheet, a win for the teams upgrading their destinations and Penn State fans appear to want the matchup with USC* as well. So call them Duck fans as well.
As for the Buckeyes, I realize there are some fans that want to avoid playing an elite team in a BCS game. Based on the last few of times the Buckeyes have ventured out of conference to play in big games, I can understand why they might think that. But, like the fool doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, I am liking Ohio State's chances in one of these games more and more with each passing day. Florida and USC, the only two schools I wouldn't exactly look forward to matching up with, will be spoken for if the Ducks win and the Gators capture the SEC championship as expected.
Alabama and Utah would likely meet in the Sugar, the ACC Champion would meet Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl and the Buckeyes would then be left with Oklahoma or Texas in the Fiesta. Both are great football teams and the Buckeyes would be underdogs, but this Ohio State team is playing well as of late and that freshman quarterback is going to be downright salty come January.
Despite the Big Ten turning on their televisions en masse to cheer on Oregon, the Beavers are favored at home and have won the last two in the rivalry. They'll be hungry for the school's first Rose Bowl in 43 years and the seven senior starters on the Beaver defense understand what's on the line. However, they will have to get it done without Jacquizz Rodgers, the Pac-10's leading rusher and he-who-slayeth-the-Trojans. He is unlikely to play because of a shoulder injury, so we have that going for us.
If the Beavers do manage to win the game and every bowl-eligible team in the Big Ten not named Penn State slides down a spot, it's not exactly bad news for the Buckeyes. A matchup with Georgia is compelling in many ways. Beanie vs. Knowshon is good theater. It's a battle of the top two teams from the preseason poll and a matchup of programs that I think mirror each other in a lot of ways. Each received a boost from slaughtering an overvalued opponent in a BCS game in recent years, both teams like to piss on themselves in big ones, and both coaches cultivate squeaky-clean images, save for a moment or two.
Either way, I'm looking forward to what could be Beanie's last show. One more hurdle and a couple of more stiff-arms, please.
* Be careful what you wish for.