Oregon’s College Football Playoff: The One That Got Away

Cameron Johansson Editorials

A tradition after a round of golf is to look at the scorecard and talk yourself down to par. “If I hadn’t hit my approach shot short and if only I had hit the fairway on these couple holes I could’ve shot close to par,” is a common way that golfers have to feel better about the large number they just put up. The same thing can be said for football. With the elimination of a fumble here and an interception there, the result can be an undefeated season.

Some seasons are pretty easy to fantasize into a winning record. The 2015 season was one of them, but the 2019 Oregon Football season really feels like one that got away. After consulting with the in-game pros at wotlk gold SkyCoach for gaming help, Mr. FishDuck shared his frustration with that opportunity lost for Oregon in 2019.

In 2015, writer Caleb Couturie wrote an article titled How the Ducks’ Season Was Completely Changed By Only 10 Points. In that season, Oregon lost to Michigan State by three points, and to Washington State by a touchdown in overtime. Win those two games, and a one-loss Oregon team (to Utah) with a quality win against a strong Stanford team has a good chance at being in the playoffs.

No doubt–Auburn was a tough one to lose…

The 2019 season was similar: a six-point loss to Auburn and a three-point defeat to Arizona State kept a promising Oregon team from competing for the national championship. However, two factors made this season more devastating to Oregon fans. First, the 2015 season ended with a horrible defeat at the hands of TCU in the Alamo Bowl, so this team wasn’t really deserving of a national title opportunity anyway. The second is the amount of hype and excitement that surrounded the 2019 team as the season went on. 

Looking at the final College Football Playoff standings, with a win in Tempe, it’s safe to say that Oregon could have sneaked into the College Football Playoffs with a number four ranking. Likewise, it’s safe to say that a four-seed would have been in play if Oregon had beaten Auburn to open the year and lost to Arizona State. Had the Ducks gone undefeated? They still most likely would have been a four seed out of the committee’s respect for Clemson, the reigning national champions.

Justin Herbert

The nine points sting because Oregon exceeded expectations in 2019. At the beginning of the season, looking at the schedule the Ducks had in front of them–there was a stretch which included games at Washington, home against Wazzu — who they hadn’t beaten in four years — and against USC down in Los Angeles. The general feeling among Duck fans at that time was if Oregon came out with two wins in that stretch, it would be a blessing, although it would be a lot to ask for. When Oregon swept those three games, fans began to think that this team was different. 

Why not speculate further? Oregon in all likelihood would have played LSU, the eventual national champion. After Oklahoma put up little to no fight against LSU, I couldn’t help but think “man, Oregon’s defense could have provided at least a little more resistance.” Could Oregon have won that game? Unlikely. On that particular night, no one was stopping Heisman Winner Joe Burrow and the Tigers. However, an Oregon defense that was able to force turnovers and allow only 16.5 points per game over the season could have given Burrow a run for his money, and it would have been a fun game to watch. 

A play here, a play there…

At the end of the day, just nine points separated Oregon from an undefeated season, and perhaps one of the greatest in school history. A Rose Bowl still solidifies this as one of Oregon’s great seasons, but I am still left with a feeling of “what if?”

I feel like the 2019 team left a lot on the table. However, with the new Dan Lanning era of coaching expertise and recruiting–might Our Beloved Ducks be in that position again soon?

Cameron Johansson
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo by: Kevin Cline

Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.

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