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State of Oregon polarized by War of the Roses

EUGENE — It is being dubbed the War of the Roses.

The 113th Civil War rivalry game between 10th-ranked Oregon and 16th-ranked Oregon State this Thursday night will decide the Pac-10's representative in the Rose Bowl. And the state of Oregon has never seen anything quite like it.

During his tenure as Oregon coach, Mike Bellotti — borrowing a quote from predecessor Rich Brooks — used to say that come Civil War time every one in the state was either a Beaver or a Duck. That seems especially true this year.

"I feel it in the street, I feel it in class, a guy who loves across the street says 'You better go get those Beavs!'" said Oregon linebacker Spencer Paysinger. "Stuff like that. And I feel like it's only going to pick up as the game gets closer."

A black T-shirt on sale at Portland's Duck Store proclaims "War of the Roses" with a yellow rose for the Ducks, an orange for the Beavers and a red for the Rose Bowl. Florists in Eugene were stocking up on all three colors for game day.

Last season, Beavers fans descended on local florists in anticipation of the Civil War game because Oregon State, with a victory, was headed to the Rose Bowl.

But many of those roses ended up discarded in the Reser Stadium stands after the Ducks romped to a 65-38 victory, spoiling the party. A photo from the night shows the Ducks mascot handing one of those roses to coach Bellotti.

Bellotti is now athletic director at Oregon, and Chip Kelly, his offensive coordinator, has taken over as head coach.

A New Hampshire grad, Kelly tried — albeit unsuccessfully — to play down the significance of this year's Civil War.

"Every game we play is the most important one," he said. "There's not one that's more important that the other one."

Uh-huh, sure.

Tickets for the game reached $500 apiece on Craigslist.org this week. One pair, offered for $1,000, included an unpaid reservation for the night at a nearby hotel, an additional $159 cost.

The frenzy over tickets prompted Oregon Attorney General John Kroger to issue a warning over counterfeit tickets.

"Con artists and scammers routinely try to capitalize off of highly anticipated events to pad their own wallets," Kroger's office said in an advisory that offered tips for spotting scams.

Autzen Stadium seats more than 54,000. Oregon officials also sell some 5,000 standing-room only tickets. All were long ago sold out.

Eugene officials put together a comprehensive traffic plan to deal with the Thursday night game because the bulk of the traffic into the city will likely hit at rush hour for the 6 p.m. local time game.

Players on both sides were given the Thanksgiving holiday off, returning to practice on Saturday. Both Kelly and Oregon State coach Mike Riley closed practices in an effort to shield the teams from all they hype.

Oregon (9-2, 7-1) hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since the 1994 season, and Oregon State (8-3, 6-2) hasn't been there since the 1964 season.

It is the first time in the history of the rivalry game that both teams are playing for a trip to Pasadena.

"This might be the craziest it has been all year. USC was pretty crazy," Oregon safety T.J. Ward said. "But there's nothing like the Civil War."