Today, I watched two NFL teams play patty cake football against each other in their first preseason game, which led me to take solace in a single thought — there’s only 17 days until college football.
There is no other sport like college football — none. Yes, professional sports are great and I’m a fan of many of them, but no professional sport can compare to the pageantry and pride of college football. No other sport has the intense rivalry, marching bands or cherished traditions that college football does, nor does any other sport compete weekly for office bragging rights and regional superiority. Also, we do not see other teams play for all the marbles in every game quite the same way as college football.
In only 17 long days, the world’s greatest sport will be back and marching bands will be marching, cheerleaders will be cheering, uptempo offenses will be scoring, and the Duck will be doing push-ups. With college football so close, here are 10 reasons to look forward to college football’s official kickoff on September 3rd and Oregon football back in our lives:
Traditions: From the Duck riding the motorcycle leading the team onto the field, to watching the Duck do push-ups after touchdowns, to dancing to “Shout” in Autzen Stadium with 60,000 of your closest friends after the 3rd quarter ends, to hundreds of other traditions played-out before home crowds at college football games across the country; tradition is what makes college football so special.
Marching Bands: They are the soundtrack to the games and their fight songs and halftime shows play an extremely important role in the pageantry of the sport. At the Ducks’ first game against Eastern Washington, fans can expect to hear “Mighty Oregon,” traditionally played after every Ducks’ touchdown, enough times to make up for the nine months without hearing it — and have it stuck in your head, forever.
New Faces and the Return of Old Ones: For the last several years, the Ducks have been able to replace and reload their offensive talent, and this year should be no different. With new faces emerging at the quarterback and running back positions, it will be fun to see what kind of new offensive stars the 2015 season brings.
However, it’s not just new faces we look forward to. The 2015 season will see stars like Bralon Addison, Tyler Johnstone and Pharoah Brown make their return to the field after suffering from season ending injuries last season, and Oregon fans can’t wait to welcome them back.
Student Sections: The students are the loudest and rowdiest part of any fan base, and the heart and soul of any collegiate program. The students lead chants, wear crazy costumes, heckle opposing players, and help make Autzen Stadium one of the loudest stadiums in college football.
The Duck: After a couple months of rest, the best mascot in sports, the Duck, is set to make his return to Autzen. Comedic timing, motorcyle and push-up abilities are traits to be admired in such large fowl birds, and they are qualities the Duck possess at all times. Whether he’s entertaining fans during blowouts or furiously doing hundreds of push-ups on game day, seeing the Duck return is certainly a reason to look forward to the start of college football.
Uniforms: With a little help from Nike, the Ducks constant uniform changes have become a staple in the Ducks brand of football and, at times, the team’s uniform combinations have become almost as interesting as their games.
Upsets That Will Change the College Football Landscape: With such an emphasis placed on every loss, getting through a college football season is almost like a trip through a mine field, any loss could cost you the season and every opponent is a threat. The question isn’t whether top ranked teams will lose this season, the question is which losses will shake the college football landscape to its core and which teams will find a way to fly under-the-radar.
Continued Dominance of Major Rivalries: Rivalries are arguably what separates college sports the most from the pros. In the pros, due to so many transactions in free agency and team trades, rivalries have become somewhat diluted because players sometimes play for teams once considered rivals. In college sports, players can’t move from team to team, so these rivalries stay deep seated and mean something to the players as well as the fans, which have produced some of the greatest moments in sports, such as “The Pick.”
What Duck fans should be excited about is the opportunity to extend win streaks vs. Oregon State and the University of Washington to 8 and 12 games, respectively. Duck fans have enjoyed bragging rights in the office and the community for a long time, and there’s no reason that should change this year.
An Incredibly Strong Pac-12: This year, with the improvement of the Arizona schools and the expected re-emergence of USC as a powerhouse, the Pac-12 features as much top to bottom talent this year as any conference in the country, with six teams ranked in the Preseason Coaches Poll. The divisions, however, should have a very different balance of power.
Last year was a crazy year for the Pac-12 South. With multiple games decided by Hail Mary passes, the division played some of the best college football games of the year, and with four of six teams ranked in the Top-25, fans should expect the same kind of parity and craziness this coming season.
Luckily for Oregon, it gets to play in the best conference in football, but face a much easier road to the Pac-12 championship. With the only other ranked Pac-12 North team being Stanford at 21, the Ducks are the clear favorite to take the North.
Most importantly for the conference is that after a bowl season that saw the SEC miss out on the title game and lose all of its important bowl games, the Pac-12 is on the precipice of claiming the SEC’s seat on throne as college football’s best conference in the eyes of the national media.
A Fresh Slate: The best part about any new season, however, is the extreme optimism. At this point in the season, Jeff Lockie and Vernon Adams both have perfect passer ratings with no losses and limited injuries. Also, the Ducks hold a top rank in the polls. This year will be another special one for college football and the Oregon Ducks, because every college football season is special.
Top photo by Kevin Cline