Losing raises a lot of uncomfortable questions.
First of all, let’s tip our collective hats to the No. 23 Utah Utes, which was clearly the better team and prevailed in literally every facet of the game in its 38-7 victory over the (formerly) No. 3 Oregon Ducks on Saturday night at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Oregon (9-2) was never the third-best team in the country. Sure, the Week 1 win over Ohio State was a great way to start the season and it was nice while it lasted. But the Utes managed to exploit EVERY SINGLE ONE of the Ducks’ weaknesses, which they had somehow managed to keep under control for most of the season. They were outsmarted, outplayed and overpowered on national television.
There are some tough questions requiring answers that can no longer be avoided. Why wasn’t Oregon ready for this game? Why couldn’t the Ducks stop the Utes’ run? Why didn’t the Ducks’ offense take a knee with 30 seconds left in the first half, trailing 21-0? Is Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown really the team’s best chance to win each week? It seems an exercise in futility to drone on about the same old issues we’ve heard all season. Honestly, they’re probably all true.
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No run game. Questionable coaching. Inconsistent defense. Lackluster special teams (on both sides of the ball, including a missed field goal and allowing a punt return for a touchdown right before halftime). Nothing gelled. Nothing worked. If you really want to look at the stats, check them out here.
While Brown made a couple beautiful downfield throws, his panicked style-of-play amounted to a cargo barge filled with poor decisions, making it impossible for the Ducks to generate any kind of momentum. If Brown is the best the Ducks have to offer right now, that’s fine, but let’s be real: Brown isn’t the guy to get Oregon to a national championship.
On the other hand, Ducks fans can also thank the Utes (8-3) for making Oregon right-sized. Now, the Ducks have a clearer picture of who they are — a darn good Pac-12 football team — and who they aren’t — a top-four team in the College Football Playoff.
So, what does the rest of the season look like for the Ducks? Best case scenario is winning a Pac-12 Championship (likely against Utah… doh!) and a New Year’s Day bowl game. All things considered, there is still a lot to play for. Oregon needs to beat in-state rival Oregon State next week to get a 10-win season and make a step in the right direction from last year. But that isn’t a shoo-in either. The Beavers beat Utah, 42-34, Arizona State 24-10 and is on a confident roll…
Friends, all is not lost. While it’s truly disappointing and sad, Ducks fans are FOREVER. And Oregon needs support to finish the season on a high note.
San Diego, California
Top Photo by Harry Caston
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Jordan is a lifelong Duck fan currently living in San Diego. Jordan graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, after serving a prestigious fellowship with the Washington State House of Representatives. Upon graduation, he worked as an English language teaching assistant for the Spanish Ministry of Education’s Ambassadorial Program in Monforte de Lemos, Spain. Jordan has worked as a journalist, writer, and editor in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and California, covering a wide range of topics, including sports, local politics, and crime. He is VERY excited to be writing about his beloved Oregon Ducks.
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