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Talking quack

Based on New Year's Day television ratings, tonight's College Football Championship game pitting No. 2 Oregon against No. 4 Ohio State could draw more than 30 million viewers.

Had the Harry & David marketing staff got an inkling the Ducks and Buckeyes would collide in Dallas, the marketing mavens may have showered the nation with championship-game products.

The contest, however, has sparked a series of wagers among politicians, and Harry & David's Medford headquarters and its Hopewell campus in Hebron, Ohio, have followed suit. The loser will have to fly the flag of the winning school on its flagpole.

 "I just hope Ohio is ready to get quack-smacked," said Jeremy Rich of the purchasing department.

Gordon Hodges, a marketing analyst from Medford, reduced the match-up to a mathematical theorem along the lines of: "If (Buckeyes are greater than Ducks), then (Fiery Subterranean Locale) equals Frozen over."

Of course, wrote Karen Lollis of Medford, "By definition, If (X=Frozen), then (X≠Fiery). As a result, (Buckeyes are not greater than Ducks).

"Logic never lies," Lollis posted.

Lollis, a corporate sales administrator, received plenty of flack from apparent Ohio State fans sending stock art photos of camouflaged hunters taking aim at high-flying ducks.

Whether or not he's a duck hunter, Jeffrey Rath passed along a photo of an Ohio State fan that could put a scare into just about anyone. The fan, dressed as a Tolkienesque orc-like creature is accompanied with a caption, "Fear the Nut," referring to the Buckeyes' nickname.

The rejoinder, of course, for the less-scary Duck fan, Pamela Kalista:  "Time to quack some Nuts!!!"

David Lemmon, who hails from Columbus, Ohio's largest city,  appeared to take the high road. Buckeye fans, after all, have history on their side.

"Who needs smack talk when you have math?" puzzled Lemmon. "Oregon vs. Ohio State has occurred eight times. Oregon has won none of those meetings. Total score? 190-89. Ohio State has won five National Titles, five more than Oregon has ever won. 

You guys have a Heisman Trophy winner? That’s awesome.  We’ve won seven, including the only guy to ever win two." (That would be Archie Griffin.) 

"Heismans aren’t everything though. You guys have also had five Consensus All Americans.  We’ve had 78. You know how many weeks Oregon has spent ranked No. 1 by the AP?  Eight. That’s super close to 94. But yeah, other than all that, it’s a pretty awesome rivalry."

James Thadeus, playing the History Channel, approach noted "The last time we met an 'unstoppable' Oregon, they got stopped."

If one is to decide the issues merely based on the nickname and mascots, James Owens of Ohio sizes it up succinctly: "One is poison, the other is a Disney character."

For some, the game isn't the primary thing, maybe not even secondary.

"I would just like to say that I don't care who wins," says Ohioan Erika Molyneux, who figures her Oregon counterparts have inside information. "But can she get me Mariota's phone number?  He's hot."

So tonight, a team with a long history of success, but recent NCAA probation issues, faces ascending Oregon, still looking for a crown jewel to place in the trophy case.

"History, schmistory," Lollis said. "On Tuesday, the only history that matters will be what happened on Monday."

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have put their egos on the line.

If Oregon beats Ohio State on Jan. 12, Brown and Portman will learn how to “throw the O” sign with instructions from their Oregon colleagues. If Ohio State defeats Oregon, Wyden and Merkley have agreed to help their Ohio colleagues spell “O-H-I-O.”

“The waterfowl of Eugene will put up a strong and respectable effort but will ultimately migrate back to Oregon empty-handed," Brown said.

“We of course look forward to showing our friends from Ohio how to make the universal symbol for Ducks’ dominance,” Wyden and Merkley said in a joint statement.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

Harry & David employees, from left, Jeremy Rich, Teri Taylor and Erik Hall show their support for the University of Oregon football team. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell