This has been quite the season for Oregon football. Huge up and down swings in emotion, wins and loses. One word can be used to describe it: Tumultuous
The Justin Herbert injury was catastrophic, as was the shoulder injury to the greatest running back in UO history, Royce Freeman. Losing players like Charles Nelson for several key games like ASU, UCLA and WSU, prevented more victories. On the defensive side, linebacker, safety and defensive line hurts also weakened a vastly improved defense. But it is football though, everyone gets nicked up.
The coaching carousel success, is yet to be determined. Is it a positive or negative for our program? That reason alone, makes this bowl game Saturday by far the biggest game of the season. Indeed, the most important of Oregon’s last 24 games.
Why is this Las Vegas Bowl game such a big deal, you might ask? It has enormous implications going forward. Here are some cogent reasons.
1. This is the first game under new head coach Mario Cristobal. How will he, players, staff, fans, media and the opposition react to decisions made in the “heat of battle”? A seriously important tell going forward.
2. It will have a monster impact on recruiting. Win, and we swing some “fence-sitters” to our camp. Lose, and they most likely are long gone. A top 20 class, or even much higher, is quite possible, even expected with a nice win. Signing day could be sweet.
3. If the Ducks secure eight wins, it would be a double over last season’s debacle. That bad taste would evaporate and, going forward, we are back in the game here at Oregon. Better look over your shoulder ’cause here we come league.
4. A win will solidify some staff on the bubble too. They may very well say this program has staying power and the trajectory is up and away. They would want to be part of this action going forward.
5. A victory would be a springboard to even more wins next season (10 might be possible with everything falling in to place). A resounding yes.
6. Do you think some who have jumped off the Ducks bandwagon, will come scurrying back home? How do we spell season ticket holders returning, or even sellouts again? Ca-Ching!
7. How would 0-3 feel against our Idaho rival? Nausea to the max … talk me off the ledge. Because I, for one, will feel like jumping if we lose to those ponies again. Perish the thought. We will be floating on air by winning, defying gravity in this Yuletide season. Hey Santa, gift wrap this up for us. We have been good for most of the year!
8. A Ducks win will be a great way to reward our senior players for years of dedication to the Oregon program. They have experienced firsthand a Natty opportunity (the highs) to the blow-out loses (lows). A win leaves these players advocates of Ducks prowess. Future alumni will leave with a nice taste they certainly deserve, and Oregon’s stud left tackle Tyrell Crosby deserves it most in his own back yard.
9. Beating a top 25 team with a national TV audience carries weight and cache. ABC commentators will gush with glee about us and so will we. A preseason ranking will follow next August.
Am I forgetting other valid reasons why a victory is crucial? Tell me what I’ve forgotten in the comments …
Lose, and most points above and karma go poof, and serious momentum will vanish. Ouch, please no more pain this year.
There is heavy pressure on Coach Cristobal. Yes he knows and anticipated that, in taking this gig from sleep deprivation, limited family time, schmoozing recruits and coaching up his team. Glad-handing the boosters, media and fans is all part of the deal, and I, for one, think he is up to the task. He really needs to get this right for all concerned.
Come on, “Our Heroes, Beloved Ducks,” “Mighty Oregon,” make it happen. Saddle break those Broncos. Ride them into the dust.
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