The last time Oregon State played in the Rose Bowl — that was nearly 44 years ago — Medford's Dan Sieg lined up as a starter in the secondary.

The last time Oregon State played in the Rose Bowl — that was nearly 44 years ago — Medford's Dan Sieg lined up as a starter in the secondary.

In 2000, when arguably most meaningful Civil War in history took place between OSU and rival Oregon, tight end Marty Maurer of Jacksonville was a central figure in the Beavers' offense.

In between, the likes of locals Dick Maurer, who is Marty's uncle, and Don Pinkham toed the line of scrimmage when bowl games weren't at stake but state pride was.

They and other former Beaver players and multitudes of fans are geared up for what could be one of the most memorable moments in school lore. If OSU defeats Oregon in their annual clash at Reser Stadium on Saturday, the Beavers will make that long-awaited return trip to Pasadena, Calif., and the Rose Bowl.

"There were a number of years where it was obvious," says Sieg, who now lives in Shady Cove, "that those of us who did go (to the '65 Rose Bowl) would be the last to go until a new regime came in."

New coaches did come and go, and so did losing seasons, 28 in a row from 1971-98.

It's no wonder the anticipation level this week is off the charts.

"I kind of think the Beavers are having a magical season," says Marty Maurer, who owns a heating and air business in Medford.

Last week's victory over Arizona was a case in point, he says. OSU missed a late extra point, leaving it down 17-16 with less than four minutes to go. With the lead, Arizona turned conservative, was stopped on downs and punted the ball to the Beavers, who then marched to the winning field goal.

The missed extra point might well have been a blessing, he says. Taken with OSU's 21-2 record the past three seasons from early October on and its two straight victories in the Civil War, he believes the good times will continue.

Pinkham, who, like Dick Maurer, played in the early 1970s, expects a high-scoring game and, ultimately, a Beaver win.

"Expecting and hoping are two different things, certainly," he says. "I hope the Beavers win, and I sort of expect that a little bit with it being at home."

"You're always concerned with Oregon, it's always a tough game," he adds. "Like they say, you're battling for the right to live in Oregon, so the kids are playing hard."

Now, both teams are ranked heading into the Civil War for only the second time, matching 2000, when Oregon was fifth and OSU eighth.

This year, it's the Beavers at No. 17 and UO at No. 19. Both are 8-3 overall, and OSU is tied for first with USC in the Pac-10 Conference at 7-1, one game ahead of the Ducks.

A win over USC and its "five-star" talent, says Dick Maurer, proved the Beavers could play with anyone. But questions arose prior to that as OSU started out 0-2, including a conference-opening loss at Stanford.

"We figured we had a pretty good team," says Dick Maurer, who traveled to Penn State for Game 2 and witnessed a 45-14 Beaver beating. "Then we had that start and kind of said, uh-oh, something's going on here."

But the pieces fell together and his team is still turning heads.

Dick Maurer remembers how fervent his coach, Dee Andros, was when it came to this game. Maurer had two brothers who played for the Ducks — one being Andy Maurer, Marty's father — and that heightened his passion.

The Civil War "had big meaning and it still does," he says. "I get really cranked up this week. You're in the state of Oregon and you have to take a side of the fence. You've got to be on one side or the other. But it's great to have two teams second and third in the Pac-10 playing for something big."

The game was as important five decades ago, says Sieg, who graduated from Medford High in 1961 and started at defensive right halfback for OSU coach Tommy Prothro for three years.

Sieg played in 1962, when the Beavers defeated Villanova in the Liberty Bowl, 6-0, behind Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker, and was still around New Year's Day, 1965, when Michigan rolled to a 34-7 victory in the Rose Bowl.

Sieg's Beavers won two of three against the Ducks, however, including a 7-6 decision in 1964 that sent OSU to Pasadena.

"The Civil War was always the big game of the season," he says. "Nothing has changed then to now. The favorite was probably the one who won the least. You never knew what would happen in the Civil War."

His memories include OSU stopping Ducks star Mel Renfro close to the goal line to preserve the aforementioned one-point win and overcoming a deficit in a 20-17 victory in 1962. Both triumphs were at home.

The Rose Bowl loss to Michigan was a combination of OSU not playing well, some questionable play calling and the belief it was Prothro's last game, says Sieg. It wasn't announced until after the game that Prothro was leaving for UCLA, but the players knew, he says.

"He was a very respected coach, a great coach," says Sieg. "He was the type of coach who strictly went by the odds. He didn't take a gamble. Whatever odds proved to be the winning combination, that's what he went with. He was a great gin player, and that's the way he coached, too."

As this Civil War nears, Sieg is worried that star running back Jacquizz Rodgers is unlikely to play and other injuries will limit the Beavers' firepower. The outcome, he believes, will hinge on them holding down Oregon in a low-scoring affair.

Marty Maurer doesn't particularly care how it happens, so long as the Beavers get it done.

"I can speak for myself and all my uncles," he says. "Our favorite teams are Oregon State and whoever is playing the Ducks."

He remembers well 2000, when the Beavers won 23-13 in a game that wasn't that close, he says, knocking the Ducks out of the Rose Bowl and putting OSU in the BCS mix. The Beavers routed Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

"That right there was the biggest home game in the history of the program," says Marty Maurer. "There's never been a game played at Reser that had more riding on it. Everyone talks about the Giant Killers (of 1967), but that was just an upset."

Without the win over the Ducks eight years ago, OSU probably would have been in the Sun Bowl, he says, and a surge in fundraising and facility improvement that followed might not have happened.

The Beavers had a chip on their shoulders for that Civil War.

"We were playing really good football going into that game," says Maurer, "and we got absolutely no respect. (Oregon coach) Mike Bellotti isn't one to give credit to another team. Even after the Civil War, he said the best team didn't win today. Oregon was going to the Rose Bowl and we were a bunch of overachievers. We didn't get respect before or during the game and no credit after, even though we beat them pretty good."

There will be a show of respect on Saturday. The Beavers' 1998 team, of which Maurer was a part and which won a wild, 44-41 overtime decision in the Civil War, will be introduced at halftime as part of a reunion.

They no doubt would like the celebration to carry on through the ensuing two quarters and well into the night.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com