Fiesta Bowl GameDay: Winning Hinges on Unusual Questions

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

Say it, and say it loud: 2020 Pac-12 Champions! With as bad a year as this could be in so many ways, Our Beloved Ducks still pulled off a conference championship among so many unforeseen  challenges? Yes, Washington fans assert that Oregon backed into the Championship game, but only because they backed out of a rivalry game with Oregon due to their own internal failings. A conference championship was such an unlikely prospect after the Cal game, and yet the odd-football-bounces went our way this time. Eleven other conference teams lust for the trophy that Oregon has, so savor it!

Can Oregon do it in a New Year’s Six Bowl again?

This season mirrors 2019, when the Ducks limped into the Pac-12 Championship to pull off a miracle and win. The following complete team victory in the Rose Bowl was an effort that we, as fans, will never forget. Can the Ducks duplicate that effort in today’s Fiesta Bowl? It seems improbable in some respects, and yet the outcome will come down to the answers to some unusual questions we normally would not be asking of an elite team. Let’s take a look at them and discuss before, during and after the game in our new forum that you all have become acquainted with.

They wanted it more…really?

“Which Oregon team Shows Up?” C’mon…Really?

We have all heard and discussed this major element of the game, and that is the mental approach to the game. I was watching Oregon State playing Arizona State and was just disgusted with the thought of actually losing to that Beaver team. Will we see the Oregon team (mentally) that lost at Cal or the Duck team that gave 110% at the Coliseum versus USC?

To even contemplate that thought really torques me as a fan; how can you not be ready to play every game when you know you are the hunted? Isn’t mental preparation part of the superior culture we’ve been hearing about? And then to go do it again versus Cal makes me want to hurl, as that is three times in two years (ASU last year) and not a good trend. It seems insane that we fans need to be concerned about the mental readiness factor; we should not be concerned about that unusual question!

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The Good News? It is easy for even a mentally immature team to get up for a game when they have been ‘dissed, or especially when they are the underdog with the oddsmakers and in the rankings as Oregon is at this time. If they do not play all-out in today’s Fiesta Bowl, I will be … disappointed.

More Pistol Plunges?

Is Oregon Going to “Out-Tough” or “Out-Smart” the Cyclones?

Iowa State is known as a tough physical team. Is Coach Mario Cristobal going to yield to his urge to show his team’s toughness with repeated Pistol Plunges? Or is he going to allow OC Joe Moorhead to call more innovative plays as we’ve seen over the season to take opponents by surprise and get needed yards?

Is Oregon going to have an End-Game like against Oregon State where a few first downs that were not made effectively lost the game? Or will we see game-clinching plays like the pass to Juwan Johnson in the Rose Bowl where he caught it, got the first down and more to end the game? Twice Oregon has failed to make first downs at the end of games this year, instead calling conservative plays and relying on the defense to win it. This happened against UCLA and USC, and it took miracle defensive plays by Jamal Hill in both games to save the victories.

Isn’t it a higher probability to win the game with first downs than ask for incredible defensive plays to secure a win?

Mycah Pittman scored one of two Tunnel Screens touchdowns last year in Seattle.

Will Oregon be Allowed to Score Enough Points to WIN?

How crazy a subtitle is that above? Yet we all know that Cristobal has not fully achieved what this offense is capable of! When I think of how under-utilized our senior wide receivers are in Johnny Johnson and Jaylon Redd, it makes me ill. You do not have experience like that every year! And what about the wide-receiver Tunnel Screens that the Oregon offense killed with last year?

In my view, Iowa State is a good team who will score a bunch of points. I feel we need to target at least 35 points, although 44 would make me more comfortable. The potential is there; will Coach Mario Cristobal allow it to happen?

These are not unusual questions, these are ridiculous questions that we should not be having to ask.

Cristobal explaining “heart” in the locker-room.

Smell the Roses, or the FIESTA, Mr. FishDuck…

I am sure this comes off as quite an indictment of the coaches, specifically Cristobal. Yet I wanted him to remain at Oregon because of the lack of better options out there, and because I like him and his way of managing the players. I am hoping that he will gradually learn what many of us who are Greybeard-age fans have noted over the years as we watched other coaches acquire this knowledge.

In the meantime I am spinning it in my mind as, “consider the drama, the entertainment, the curiosity of it all in how those questions above will be answered!” It is great entertainment, and when these lessons are learned–I will celebrate and offer a toast to him. In the meantime it does give us great grist to work over in the off-season; topics that will engender epic discussions, hence it is all-good.” Why? Because…

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from the Fiesta Bowl

Do discuss this article in the new Our Beloved Ducks Forum and we will have a GameDay thread as well!

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!

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