A LOT IN COMMON (AND SOME NOT)
Oh, I know the Ducks and Badgers will have their differences in Monday’s Rose Bowl game. For one thing, some degree of clash in style of play still exists —so it’ll be high-tech, irreverent, colorful west coast ball versus smash mouth, old-fashioned, cold-weather gridiron action. Think Dan Fouts vs. Alan Ameche, for those of you who are football historians, or just plain old. But I, for one, am willing to bury Paul Bunyan’s Ax (which goes to the Wisconsin-Minnesota winner) or whatever hatchet is available to see if we can find common ground —beyond the grass playing field in Pasadena, of course. And my extensive research — OK, Wikipedia, Google, a couple of local dairy farmers — has unearthed a shocking number of similarities between the two combatants in this year’s “Granddaddy of Them All.” You’d better sit down, because I’m here to tell you that the U of O and liberal Eugene don’t necessarily have a lot on the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Both are urban campuses, and their cities (both the second-largest in their states) apparently love their beer, progressive politics (current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker notwithstanding), right to protest (dating to the Vietnam War), bicycles, milk (the official state drink for both) and did I mention beer? Both states have voted Democratic in every presidential election since Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale in 1984 like the Ducks whipped Missouri State this season. Some other “game notes”: Early 1900s school histories: UW scientists discover vitamins A and B, and invent a way to add D to milk. … Oregon loses its School of Engineering to Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis. 1917: The Badgers begin playing in Camp Randall Stadium, still their home and former site of Civil War training for the North and the northernmost Confederate cemetery in the United States. The Ducks win the Rose Bowl, something they haven’t done since. Rankings: The Badgers are No. 10 in the BCS standings, No. 9 in the AP coaches poll and No. 8 according to USA Today —but that’s nothing that will go to their cheeseheads. Wisconsin is No. 1 in the nation … in cheese production. And No. 2 in both milk and butter. Other sports: Wisconsin wins easily in ice boating, ice skating, ice fishing and ice hockey, but Portland might have the edge in women’s football (the Portland Shockwave and Madison Cougars both are members of the International Women’s Football League) and roller derby (the Rose City Rollers and Mad Rollin’ Dolls both compete in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association). And you can quote me: Oregon has had eight Pulitzer Prize winners from its School of Journalism and Communications, but two Wisconsin students founded The Onion in 1988. Ouch, that hurts: Last year, Playboy magazine named Wisconsin the No. 3 party school in the United States. Oregon didn’t make the top 10. But is that the best they can do?: “National Lampoon’s Animal House” was filmed on the UO campus in fall 1977. Wisconsin’s feeble counter? “Back to School” with Rodney Dangerfield in 1986. It’s WHAT?: Oregon has the lovable Duck, as cute as any Disney character (it IS in fact, a Disney character) and fitter than Jack LaLanne. Wisconsin has Bucky Badger (short for Buckingham). By the way do you know that the badger is “a short-legged weasel” with a “rather short, fat body,” and one version of the species, the stink badger, belongs to the skunk family? So, memo to Chip Kelly, staff and players: Please be on guard. Big-time Badgers: Perhaps you remember these Wisconsin football greats —Mike Webster, Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, Jim Bakken, Al Toon, Ron Dayne, Ron VanderKelen., Pat Harder, Pat Richter and Tim Krumrie. Portland connection: Old-timers may remember Rufus “The Roadrunner” Ferguson, standout running back for the World Football League’s Portland Storm in 1974. He was Wisconsin’s MVP in 1972. Bowl scoring: Wisconsin is 3-5 in its last eight bowl appearances, but the games have been close and relatively low-scoring, with the Badgers averaging 18.1 points and allowing 21.8. Most people expect a lot more offense in Monday’s 98th Rose Bowl. QB ratings: Wisconsin senior transfer Russell Wilson has been great this season, but he isn’t even the best quarterback in his state! Right, Aaron Rodgers?