Awesome Autzen: The Day the Ducks Destroyed Nick Saban!

PittDuck Editorials

My FishDuck Friends, we have a wonderful article contributed by PittDuck about his favorite Autzen memory. Oh how sweet that game was, and the unusual circumstances for him surrounding that delightful game 22 years ago.  We thank him and invite you to write about yours as well!  Charles Fischer

I’ve been an Oregon Duck fan since I was a kid in the ’60s, and while I have not been able to attend nearly as many games as I would have liked, I do have memories of watching some great games at Autzen. I was sitting about 15 rows from the field in 1990 when eventual Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer was sacked by Marcus Woods (the Belly-Bop) right in front of me in the end zone during the No. 4 ranked BYU Cougars’ 32-16 loss to the unheralded Ducks! In recent years, I bring grandsons and granddaughters to at least one game a year at Autzen, where the gameday experience absolutely rocks.

My future Duck fans have had the opportunity to witness Marcus Mariota magic and Joey Harrington heroics while building lifetime memories with grandpa.

I have a lot of great Autzen memories, but one of my favorite has got to be the September 5th, 1998 game against No. 23 ranked Michigan State in Eugene.

My daughter was in the award-winning Grants Pass High School (GPHS) Marching Band from 1997 through 2000, and in those days, the GPHS Marching Band (through connections with the Band Director) got invited to Autzen to play the half-time performance for the first home game, before the Duck Band members returned to school in the fall. As the pit boss (guy in charge of getting the equipment on and off the field), I was the lucky guy who got to drive a quad, pulling four equipment trailers full of pit equipment down the ramp and onto the turf at Autzen! Not everyone can say they got to drive a quad around Autzen stadium in front of 43,634 fans …

While I had to miss the last half of the 2nd quarter and the first half of the 3rd quarter (taking care of band equipment), I got to witness some awesome moments in this game. This includes the 4th and 3 play on the Ducks’ opening drive when Akili Smith threw a 20 yard reception to Tony Hartley. Another great moment was Reuben Droughns’ 75-yard touchdown run off left tackle in the 2nd half. The Ducks were up 48 to 0 before they let the Nick Saban-led Spartans get 14 garbage points to end the game.

The Ducks’ defense was nothing short of spectacular that game. They intercepted two, if not three, passes and didn’t allow a single 3rd-down conversion until the 4th quarter. The D-line denied MSU on three 4th-and-short situations. On the final MSU possession, they shut them down with three sacks in a row!

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon for the Ducks, as they gained 572 offensive yards. Droughns finished with 202 yards rushing and 2 TDs in his first game as a Duck! Akili Smith had a great game, completing 15 of 25 passes for 266 yards and 4 TDs, most of it in a masterful first half.

This was so much fun to recall, and I would be very interested to read about some of your favorite Autzen memories!

Portland, Oregon
Top Photo by John Giustina

Andrew Mueller, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.

New 2024 FishDuck Publishing Schedule….

During the off-season the publishing schedule will consist of articles on Mondays and Tuesdays. Do keep checking as new articles could be published during the week when a writer has something to say.

In mid-August of 2024, we will go back to the seven-days-a-week of articles during the football season as we did in the football season of 2023.

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there.  At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.

Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

OBD Forum members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!