This week we are going to look at some of the most exciting Oregon games of the past 10 years. There have been some extremely exciting and controversial games in the past decade, and some of them have resulted in losses. This is a list of the most exciting games, not the most exciting Oregon wins. Even though losses quelled some of the excitement, I’m not eliminating them from the list.
5. Wisconsin — 2011 Season: This was the Ducks’ first Rose Bowl win in 95 years. It was the highest scoring Rose Bowl ever. It was Russell Wilson, future Super Bowl champ, against Kiko Alonso, future NFL defensive star. What more could you ask for? How about an explosive 91-yard TD run, or a fumble that defied all laws of physics, or a controversial ending. This game had it all. It was a shoot-out … Oregon style.
4. Cal – 2007 Season: DeSean Jackson ripped apart the Ducks’ secondary for 161 yards and two TDs in this epic Cal win. The game pitted the 4-0 11th-ranked Ducks against the 4-0 6th-ranked Golden Bears, and College GameDay was in town. The Ducks led, 17-10, going into the fourth, but the Bears responded jumping to a 24-17 lead.
After the Ducks tied it up, Cal scored with 3:11 to go to lead, 31-24. With 2:20 left, Dennis Dixon threw an interception that looked as though it was going to be the dagger, but the Ducks got the ball back with 1:55 left to play. Dixon led the Ducks down the field and with 20 seconds left, Cameron Colvin fumbled the ball out the back of the end zone as he was trying to stretch for the touchdown. The play would be reviewed, but it did not go the Ducks’ way — an exciting, but heartbreaking loss for Oregon.
3. Arizona – 2009 Season: Once again, GameDay was at this game – but in Tucson. I remember watching this game and marveling at how Jeremiah Masoli ran the ball like a 240-lb running back. The Ducks were fighting to stay alive for the Pac-10 Championship. These two explosive offenses got off to slow starts as the score after three quarters was 17-14, Arizona. The Wildcats tacked on another TD to go up by 10, but the Ducks responded with 10 straight to tie it at 24 with 8:02 remaining.
Arizona took the lead with 7:41 to play on a 71-yard touchdown pass. The Ducks then turned it over on downs on the next possession, and Arizona had all the momentum with the ‘Zona Zoo’ going crazy. The Ducks regained momentum, however, on a miraculous interception in the end zone. Masoli led the Ducks 80 yards down the field and completed a pass to Ed Dickson with six seconds remaining to quiet the crowd. The two teams needed two overtimes to settle the score — the Ducks ending up victorious, 44-41, setting up a winner-takes-all Civil War a week later.
2. Auburn — 2010 Season: Everyone remembers this game. No, running back Michael Dyer’s knee was not down. Yes, that is an unfortunate way to lose a National Championship. Despite this play, the Ducks did not lose the game solely because of that play. They were outplayed and outmuscled in short-yardage situations on offense. The Duck defense kept them in the game with Cliff Harris and Casey Matthews making plays, but it wasn’t enough. I think I needn’t say much about this game — every Duck fan knows about it.
1. Oklahoma 2006 Season: After losing to the Oklahoma Sooners in the Holiday Bowl the year before, the Ducks beat the Sooners, 34-33, in one of the wildest finishes I’ve seen in a while. The Ducks, who contained Adrian Peterson – relatively speaking — for three quarters, were down, 20-13, at the end of the frame. Then the ”All-Day” Peterson show started, as he ran for 145 yards in the fourth quarter alone, finishing with 211 yards on the day. With three minutes left to play, the Sooners went up 33-20 and the Ducks’ chances of winning looked bleak.
With 1:12 remaining, Dixon scored on a 16-yard scramble that breathed a little life into the Autzen crowd. On the ensuing kickoff the Ducks recovered the onside kick on a blown no-call by the officials. Somehow, even after review, the play stood. With the football gods on the Ducks side that day, the Sooners were then called for pass interference when the ball was actually tipped by the Sooners before the personal foul occurred.
On the next play the Ducks scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass to go up, 34-33. On the kickoff, not wanting to kick it to Peterson, the Ducks tried a squib kick. Unfortunately, the Sooners returned it 54 yards to the Ducks’ 27. So much for the gods being on our side! — But wait … the Sooners’ game-winning field goal was blocked and the Ducks won, 34-33!
The Ducks were a part of some very memorable games in the past decade — in victory and in defeat. The losses haven’t slowed the Oregon juggernaut at all, though, as the Ducks have posted the fourth-best winning percentage, .808, in all of Division 1 football in the last 10 years. This is why we love college football and our Ducks.
Top photo from Kevin Cline