Good gosh, I’m a mess!
So many mixed emotions as an Oregon fan. On one hand there’s the embarrassment over the conference’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, the anger of losing to two teams a great team should never lose to, the disappointment of a defensive regression far worse than anticipated prior to the season, and the frustration of getting hosed out of an opportunity to take our frustrations out on the cursed Huskies! But on the other hand, there’s the joy of getting slotted in to the Pac-12 Championship game. So I here I sit, in this whirlpool of disappointment and frustration, and yet here we are playing for a New Year’s Six-Bowl?
I’m a muttering mass of protoplasm! Or to quote the great Ron Burgandy, “I’m in a glass case of emotion!!”
We should have earned our way past Washington to be in this game … but then so should USC have earned their way past Colorado. David Marsh noted that Stanford has the same wobbly leg to stand on for being in the conference championship as the Ducks and Trojans do. It’s a disaster, and the league could not take another week or even two to make it right?
Then again, the Pac-12 has blown it so badly already–why resort to common sense now?
Since Oregon will be playing today in the championship, how do the Ducks make the most of it? Frankly, I do not like this match-up at all; the Trojans are going to score a boatload of points, Oregon can’t stop them, and the Duck offense will be held back (by you-know-who) from scoring as many points as needed to win. Coach Mike Bellotti said it well recently when he pointed out how USC scores their points by the air, while the Ducks have issues in the secondary and do not have much of a pass-rush. Yikes.
Can we Count on USC Being USC?
The Trojans have shown surprising heart and grit in their comeback victories, traits not usually seen from ‘SC teams. Certainly they are smarting from last year’s destruction in the Coliseum at the hands of the Ducks and will want revenge. Or are there some traditional USC emotions coming into play?
Such as hubris, bluster, arrogance and a disrespect of this 2020 Oregon team? I can just hear them now…
“How can you respect a team that lost to two lowly teams like that? We’ll obliterate them…”
There were tweets and murmurs of such sentiment already coming from Los Angeles, and I cannot help but wonder if that won’t help Oregon? If you were in the position of the Trojans … wouldn’t you feel confident? Clearly, this is the matchup at the beginning of the season we wanted, but the Trojans are much more of the team they pictured becoming than the Ducks morphed into.
Can the Ducks pull ANOTHER Pac-12 Championship MIRACLE?
You remember the scenario; Oregon lost in Tempe to a team they should not have and truly limped out an unimpressive rivalry win against the Beavers last year. The team vibe was not-good, and I recall the Pac-12 sportscasters at that game in Eugene being very low-key about their predictions for Oregon going into last year’s Pac-12 Championship game the following Friday. The mood on the television set was grim for the Ducks as they spoke of things that needed to be corrected.
Meanwhile Utah had this tremendous offense and a defense that would send six players to the NFL; they were in the top-ten in the nation and were expected to make the Playoff with a win over the Ducks. I remember thinking that only a miracle is going to keep the Ducks from getting their butts kicked in San Jose. (I believe I wrote that as well at the time)
Yet Mario Cristobal pulled it off!
Can the Ducks pull it all together for one game where the defense plays like last week, and the offense is truly released? Can Joe Moorhead be allowed to surprise the Trojans as Marcus Arroyo did last year with the green light to unleash the QB run option? Can Andy Avalos come up with some blitz packages to turn the game on some key downs?
Pretty High Stakes for a COVID Year…
With a loss, the Ducks descend to a 3-3 record and most likely take a hard-pass on a bowl game. Imagine the mood in the off-season and the soul-searching that would need to take place in the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex? I don’t even want to think about the majority of Oregon fans who did not expect any major steps backwards in the reascendance of Oregon football. A loss to the Trojans would usher in a very quiet off-season, with thousands of we-love-you-when-you’re-winning type bandwagoneers ignoring Oregon football until next fall.
Yet if the Ducks surprise everyone–they are in the Fiesta Bowl? Can you imagine the seismic shift in feelings about the team from one game? Losers or national contenders next year? These are pretty big stakes for as shaky a team as the Ducks are at this moment. Certainly the feeling of being an underdog has returned for Oregon, but can they re-work the magic again like last year?
My friends, this is why I love my Ducks; the drama of the stakes, the emotions, and the questions about it all. It is great entertainment to see just how this will turn out, and I look forward to discussing it all before, during and after today’s game. Because in this Oregon Sports Community, we are great Duck fans … no matter what.
“Oh, how we love to Ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (Mr. FishDuck)
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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