“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us …” – Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities
Dickens’ seminal quote reflects the dichotomy of opinion on this site when it comes to the current state of Oregon football. Some of us consider our 9-4 record in 2018 “just ducky” — a big first step in the right direction for Coach Mario Cristobal. Others of us believe that, with last season’s out-of-conference cupcake fest, catching Stanford and “That School Up North” at home, and the Pac-12’s collective football fortunes on the downswing, 9-4 was par for the course at best. After all, against programs with the same number of scholarship athletes on the roster, the Ducks went 6-4.
Eking out a win over a mid-level Big Ten team, Michigan State, in the stadium where UW and Utah played for a Pac-12 Championship. and Clemson and Alabama battled for a National Championship, was nice for Duck fans but troubling at the same time. In Santa Clara, the Sparty D made the Duck offense look decidedly dysfunctional. Hats off to Oregon’s defense for doing the same to Michigan State, but many the defense shut down the Spartans’ lethargic offense in 2018.
From a national perspective, the RedBox Bowl was a meaningless game in which two mediocre teams played for a dreadfully dull 60 minutes. Perhaps most disconcerting, the Ducks’ futile offense bore no resemblance to the high-flying unit that once made the nation wake up and appreciate Oregon football.
But yesterday’s gone. So, with the help of Charles “FishDuck” Dickens, allow me to ponder the fortunes of Cristobal and his squad’s second go-round. Will the venerable Autzen Stadium descend into a Bleak House or ascend to Great Expectations in 2019?
The Ducks’ 2019 Slate
Game 1: Auburn (Neutral Site)
Which Ebenezer Scrooge will show up? The ‘bah-humbug’ curmudgeon or the man who, with the help of a turkey, brightened the Cratchett0s’ Christmas?
With a veteran QB (Christmas present) going against a newbie (Christmas future) I see the Ducks turning a Tiger into … a turkey?
Prediction: Auburn fans prematurely throw toilet paper all over the town, and Gus Malzahn gets a 20-year contract extension for “making progress.” Oregon Wins (1-0)
Games 2 and 3: Nevada and Montana (Home)
Two Jenny Wrens (Our Mutual Friends) visit Autzen in back-to-back games. As Jenny was fond of saying: “My back is so bad and my legs so queer.”
Prediction: Oregon wins by so many points that fans begin to ask, “Chip who?” Oregon Wins (3-0)
Game 4: Stanford (Away)
Dickens biographer John Forster described Betsey Trotwood (David Copperfield) as “a gnarled and knotted piece-of-timber, sound to the core.”
That definition could well be applied to David Shaw’s Stanford Trees. But after having to chop wood against Northwestern, USC and UCF, I think the sap will have run dry and the Ducks will soar high above the Cardinal forest.
Prediction: Oregon gets sweet, sweet revenge. Oregon Wins (4-0)
Game 5: Cal (Home)
Sairey Gamp (Martin Chuzzlewit) didn’t drink much, just steadily. This character of polar extremes exemplifies the Golden Bears: great defense, zero offense.
Prediction: First one to 10 points wins. (It’ll be the Ducks.) Oregon Wins (5-0)
Game 6: Colorado (Home)
Wilkins Micawber (David Copperfield) was constantly in debt and continually looking “for something to show up.” The Buffs show up every four seasons or so. (Checks calendar). Nope, not this season.
Prediction: At least 100 “The Ducks Are Going to the Playoff” articles are written by now. Oregon Wins (6-0)
Game 7: Washington (Away)
Fagin (Oliver Twist) is a crafty old man who runs a school for thieves. Washington’s “Fagin,” Coach Chris Petersen, “stole” a QB back from the Right Coast Gang of Dawgs.
“Eason” the pain after this one will be tough.
Prediction: The loyalest Oregon fans will remain adamant that they only lost because of the biased “hometown refs.” Oregon Loses (6-1)
Game 8: Washington State (Home)
Jack Bunsby (Dombey and Son) was a seafaring man. He and The Pirate will both, for the first time in five long seasons, hit the shoals in Autzen.
Prediction: The Ducks are able to lift the thousand-year curse of Mike Leach and beat Washington State for the first time in centuries. Oregon Wins (7-1)
Game 9: USC (Away)
Seth Pecksniff (Martin Chuzzlewit) is a sanctimonious architect who never actually designed or built anything. As the above-referenced Forster opined, “Some people likened him to a direction post, which is always telling the way to a place, but never goes there.” Something similar will probably be written in Clay Helton’s autobiography.
Prediction: It’s a false alarm! USC isn’t back after all. Who’d have guessed? Oregon Wins (8-1)
Game 10: Arizona (Home)
I would like to inquire of Inspector Bucket (Bleak House) how in the name of Puddles did the 2018 “Sumbags” shoot down the Ducks?
Prediction: Ducks’ 2019 Revenge Tour claims its latest victim. Oregon Wins (9-1)
Game 11: Arizona State (Away)
Madame DeFarge (A Tale of Two Cities) exhibited the same hatred for her foes, both imagined and real, that I have for Ducks’ football opponents in the state of Arizona!
Prediction: The Grand Canyon State becomes the new place where opponents’ dreams come to die. Oregon Loses (9-2)
Game 12: Oregon State (Home)
When considering the Beavers, evil dwarf Daniel Quipp (The Old Curiosity Shop) comes to mind, no? The Beavers don’t even pretend to pose a challenge.
Prediction: Oregon will play every single player listed on their official roster and all of the equipment managers during the game in the name of sportsmanship. Oregon Wins (10-2)
So, what say you friends? Are the above prediction a Heep of Uriah? Or, will it indeed be the best of times for Coach Cris’ and crew in 2019?
Georgetown, Texas Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
Jon Joseph grew up in Boston, Massachusetts but has been blessed to have lived long enough in the west to have exorcised all east coast bias. He played football in college and has passionately followed the game for seven decades. A retired corporate attorney Jon has lectured across the country and published numerous articles on banking and gaming law. Now a resident of Aiken South Carolina, Jon follows college football across the nation with a focus on the Conference of Champions and the Ducks.
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