With the new era of Helfrich football just over the rise, I thought it would be a good time to look back at the Chip Kelly era.
Specifically the most gut wrenching parts of it. As we are all huge Ducks fans, some of the most vivid memories we have over the last four seasons are the losses. Chip Kelly was such a good coach for the Ducks that any losses under his regime were both devastating and could potentially have cost us a National Championship. While it is hard for me to look back at these losses, I personally feel the need to clear the air before moving forward with Coach Helfrich. Since the sample size of losses under Kelly is extremely small (only seven losses in four seasons) it was particularly hard for me to choose the most devastating five. The following are my rankings of the top five most gut wrenching losses during the Chip Kelly era:
5. September 3rd, 2009: Boise State 19 – Oregon 8
From the perspective of personal tragedy, this game could be higher on my list. However this was the first game under Kelly and nobody really knew what to expect. We weren’t yet spoiled with the thought that every season could be THE ONE. This was a hard game for Duck fans to watch as we struggled to get the offense going and didn’t look like ourselves. Then, there was the meltdown after the game that the entire nation remembers. I literally had tears of anger in my eyes. A period of time was spent consoling myself because the season was over after our first game, little did I or any other Duck fan know that the team would go on to make their first appearance in the Rose Bowl in 15 years.
4. November 19th, 2011: USC 38 – Oregon 35
This game is one of the three games on my list where I was actually in the stands. Oregon fell behind big time in the first half. They then stormed back into the picture to get within range of having one of the best comebacks ever. This was almost the best game I had ever attended. If Oregon could have pulled it out, it would have been. This game is number four on my list also because there were national title implications. Had Oregon won this game there was no guarantee that they would have played for the Natty, but the odds were in their favor.
3. January 1st, 2010: Ohio State 26 – Oregon 17
The first Rose Bowl appearance in 15 years for the Ducks. I was at this game, sitting so close to the field that I could barely see over the lineman’s head. It should go without saying why this game is number three on my list. It took a few quarters for Oregon to get going, but they eventually did. A few key mistakes were pivotal in the outcome of this game. Also, I just kept asking myself; Why did Terrelle Pryor have to pick this game out of any other game, to play the best football of his career?! Adding to the disappointment of losing the game and not knowing when we would ever be back to the granddaddy of them all, was trying to get out of the stadium. Few things are more discouraging than having your hopes dashed, then having to endure the other team’s happy and cocky fans are after the game.
2. November 17th, 2012: Stanford 17 – Oregon 14
This was the third game on my list that I was fortunate enough to attend. I would have put the Rose Bowl loss at number two on my list, but the implications in this game were just too high. Throughout the season there was a power struggle atop the rankings with multiple undefeated teams. At this point there were only three eligible teams left with no losses. Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon. Earlier in the day Kansas State suffered their first loss of the season, guaranteeing Oregon a spot in the National Championship that season if they could just win out. The offense struggled to get going but did just enough to stay in the game. Adding suspense to an already unbearably suspenseful game, the contest went to overtime. I won’t touch on the controversial call as that would be beating a dead horse. All of these things combine to make this the second most gut wrenching game for me personally.
1. January 10th, 2011: Auburn 22 – Oregon 19
Ah, good ol’ number one. This was the game every Duck fan alive had been waiting for their entire life. I always said if Oregon could just win a National Championship, I would be happy for at least 10 years no matter how the team was playing. Just when you thought that Oregon wasn’t going to have a chance, Casey Matthews came up HUGE and poked the ball out of Cam Newton’s arm forcing a turnover. The Ducks were then able to put the ball in the end zone with 2:33 left on the game clock. They still needed a two point conversion to tie the game however. That came in the form of Jeff Maehl. I can’t even describe how ecstatic I was when he caught that ball. We all know what happened next. I personally went from the highest high to the lowest low in a matter of minutes as we had to sit, watching the clock tick down, waiting for Auburn to kick an easy field goal. Need I mention the Cliff Harris interception that was negated by the same rule that helped Auburn’s final drive? This was without a doubt the most gut wrenching game of the Chip Kelly era.
I understand that these are very touchy experiences for many Duck fans to relive. However, talking about them helps me personally with acceptance and to put it behind me. Clearing the way to submerse myself in this new era of Duck football. Any comments on your own experiences with these games would be great to read!
Do check the new Expert QB Analysis of UO Commit Morgan Mahalak on the front page and don’t miss our Chip Kelly Update every Friday!