Monday’s weather, a sunny but chilly November day, reminded Jonathan Smith of one of his best moments as Oregon State’s quarterback.
It was 2000 and the Beavers and Ducks squared off in a Civil War game that had enough on the line that the late, great broadcaster Keith Jackson was on hand for the call.
“Probably one of my favorite memories of playing was taking the knee in that game to win the game and win the then-Pac-10 title,” Smith said of the 23-13 win at Reser Stadium. Oregon State went on to cap an 11-1 season with a blowout of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
As a player, Smith went 2-2 against rival Oregon. He gets a chance to add to the win total this Friday when he leads the Beavers into the Civil War for the first time as a coach.
Kickoff is set for around 1 p.m. inside Reser Stadium.
Smith is no stranger to rivalry games, having been a part of three Pacific Northwest contests in his time as a player and coach. In addition to his four Civil Wars as a player, Smith spent two years at Montana as the Grizzlies and Montana State competed in the Brawl of the Wild.
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Then he coached in four Apple Cups when he followed Chris Petersen to Washington. They teamed up to win all four games against Washington State.
“I think rivalries are one of the coolest things about college football,” Smith said. “I think what’s unique about some in the Northwest, because I’ve been able to experience a few of them, is their emphasis within the state.
“The state of Oregon you’re a Duck or a Beav. And (the same for) Washington or Montana. I think that’s a little bit unique compared to maybe some of the rivalries that are about a couple of states or shoot even in L.A. there’s so much going on that it’s not maybe the most important thing going on.”
Still, Smith doesn’t want the Beavers to put added emphasis on the game because it’s a rivalry.
“I want our approach to be it’s another opportunity and another game,” he said. “Because I think if you’re going to play your best you’re approach has to be consistent and your focus has to be on your technique and the details of the plan.
“Emotions do run high in rivalry games but once you get into the game it comes down to execution. So I don’t want to change it in regards to making this bigger than it is. It’s an important game like all those games are important.”
Oregon leads the series 64-47-10 and has won 9 of the last 10 games. The Beavers’ only win came at home in 2017, 34-24.
The Ducks (7-4, 4-4) are the favorites this season but have lost their last three games on the road.
“We’re excited about what this Friday game brings and to be a part of it,” Smith said. “It’s a good football team that plays physical, fast. They’ve got an elite quarterback.
“We know it’s going to be a challenge but we’re excited about getting ready for it and playing the game on Friday.”
The Beavers are wrapping up a second straight tough season, entering at 2-9 overall and 1-7 in the Pac-12. It will be the fifth straight season without a bowl game for OSU.
Still, there is plenty to play for.
“Anytime you win, it adds momentum to what you're doing,” Smith said. ”It would be very beneficial to win a game, but at the same time, it's one of 12 and our approach is going to stay the same. We're going to go out and play with some great effort."
The Beavers could be down a couple starters as Smith declared both linebacker Hamilcar Rashed Jr. and cornerback Dwayne Williams doubtful on Monday.
Linebacker Matthew Tago, who missed Saturday’s game at Washington, is also doubtful.
Defensive lineman Jeromy Reichner should be available and David Morris, who was in on special teams and recovered an onside kick, could see some action at safety in addition to special teams.