What a game. By now, most of you (the ones who didn’t stay up until almost midnight watching the game live, while suffering through possibly the most intense Oregon football game recent memory) have seen the highlights from the 61-55 triple overtime thriller against Arizona State last week.
Much like the entire 2015 Ducks season, the ASU game was a rollercoaster ride many fans have become uncomfortably familiar with.
Friday morning, only seven hours removed from the game, I told a coworker that it’s games like that make lesser seasons more meaningful and somewhat tolerable; our Ducks might not be great this year, but there is no doubt that was a great game to watch.
Sure there are things to improve on, but Oregon got its first back-to-back wins of the season, and are only one win away from becoming bowl-eligible. The performance wasn’t pretty by any means, but like the saying goes, a win is a win. It’s important to focus on the positives, even though it might be difficult at times.
With the season past its halfway point already, time is running out on the Ducks’ chances at winning the Pac-12 North Division. So, here is who to root for, and against, this week in college football.
The first thing all Oregon fans need to do is root on the Ducks against California this weekend. Our green and yellow still have a slim chance to win the Pac-12, but they can’t afford another loss the rest of the season.
That will be a difficult task with games against Cal, Stanford, and USC the next three weeks before finishing the season at home against Oregon State.
Considering that the Ducks have two conference losses, one more loss will all but certainly knock them out of conference championship contention. Root for Vernon Adams to continue his magic under center, root for Oregon to continue to keep their first winning streak of the season alive, and root for seven consecutive wins against California.
Last week, Washington State almost helped the Ducks out by pulling off the upset of No. 9 Stanford. Because the Cougars fell short, Stanford is still undefeated in Pac-12 play while WSU is now tied with the Ducks at 3-2 in conference (WSU holds the tiebreaker due to their win over Oregon earlier this year).
I know I don’t have to give many of you a reason to root against the Cardinal, but it is crucial they lose two conference games on the season, with one of those losses coming against Oregon. Stanford plays at Colorado this weekend, and CU has only won five conference games since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.
However, the Buffalos have been really close to pulling off upset wins in the past, and actually almost beat No. 24 UCLA on the road last weekend. So maybe they will finish what they started last week and upset Stanford on Saturday. Join me in rooting for the upset, and against the Cardinal this weekend.
Another game that I will be watching is No. 6 Michigan State at Nebraska.
Now, because the Ducks have zero chance to make the College Football Playoff, what Michigan State does is mostly irrelevant. However, they are playing a Mike Riley team, and I will (usually) never not root against a former Beaver coach.
Both these teams are looking for statement wins at this part of the season, but hopefully MSU handles Nebraska to finally show the nation they are a legit playoff team. If Michigan State gets the win, it will eliminate the Cornhuskers from bowl contention.
One thing to note: Nebraska’s six losses are by a combined 23 points, with all but one being a loss by one possession. If the game is close at the end, you can almost guarantee the Spartans will win the game. I’ll be rooting against Riley once again this weekend.
After all the turmoil and heartbreak Duck fans have endured this season, it’s pretty remarkable that they still have a chance to win the Pac-12. Conference title or not, Oregon just needs to keep winning in whatever way they can and they can finish with a respectable record and bowl berth.
Root hard for your Ducks this weekend, as they need all the good mojo they can get. One week at a time.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline