I'd like to say Oregon State is going to march into Autzen Stadium tomorrow afternoon and give Oregon's Ducks all they can handle in the annual Civil War.
I'd like to say that because it would be great to get back to the days of the Civil War being a competitive game. The days of it being a game that holds your interest to the very last second.
But I just don't think I can say that.
With all the strides the Beavers have made this season under Coach Jonathan Smith, they still aren't on the level of Oregon. And with that said, I see OSU as overachievers this season and Oregon as underachievers.
Underachieving when you've won the Pac-12 North and have a chance to capture the conference championship? Yes. And I say it based on all I heard this season from the Ducks.
The narrative this year out of Eugene was that this was a special team, capable of competing for a national championship. A team with a legitimate candidate for a Heisman Trophy playing quarterback. A team with the best offensive line in the country. A team with a defense unlike any since the glory days of Gang Green.
And then after their opening game, when they went out and blew a halftime lead to a true-freshman quarterback playing in his very first collegiate game, the hype still didn't stop.
I heard so much about how physical this team was. That was going to be the hallmark of these Ducks – they weren't going to be pushed around by anybody on either side of the ball.
Well… they did win the Pac-12 North, but in part because the other two traditional powers – Washington and Stanford – had uncharacteristically poor seasons. I've felt for the last several years that the reason the Ducks don't get as much national respect as they think they deserve is a backlash to their hype machine, which is nurtured by a local media/blogging community that walks into a post-game news conference and asks the coach questions like, "How great was your defense today?"
Sometimes it's best just to go out and prove your worth on the field and let the hype take care of itself. In the end, Oregon's chase for a national playoff berth ended in the desert, where another freshman quarterback picked them apart late in a game. The Ducks lost to Arizona State, which, with the win, snapped a four-game losing streak to the likes of UCLA, USC and the Beavers.
The Ducks are good, though. Make no mistake about that. Good enough to handle Oregon State by at least three touchdowns, I'm guessing. Good enough to give Utah a go for the conference title. All in all, a pretty good team.
But their problem has always been that they're never quite as good as they think they are.
Which may be what's keeping them from being the very best they can be.
Who will win the Civil War? The underachievers or the overachievers? originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest