Last spring Josh Pate at Late Kick Live did a segment about how the Oregon fanbase was feeling. He basically said that the Ducks are doing great things, but are flying under the radar for much of the college football world. And even after Oregon’s demolition of Colorado, it still feels like the Ducks are flying under the radar.
This weekend all Oregon did was meet expectations; the Ducks were supposed to win. It is amusing though, how even after Oregon’s victory over Colorado, it still feels like the narrative is all about Colorado. The Ducks were certainly the villains of this story in the national narrative and Dan Lanning’s pre-game speech is now being viewed as some pathetic attempt to gain recognition rather than a motivational speech for his players.
Lanning said that “the Cinderella story ends today” and though Oregon put the breaks on the Colorado hype train for just a moment, it didn’t move any of the focus on how good Oregon is as a football team. The narrative is that Oregon is the villain that ran up the score on poor little Colorado and didn’t give them a chance. This is football; running up the score is part of the game. Just ask Portland State, who was on the receiving end of an Oregon butt-kicking and then turned around a week or so later and delivered their own beatdown to North American at the tune of 91 points. That is just how football works.
But the adds are now rolling for Colorado’s upcoming showdown against USC as the hype train for both programs gain steam again — which leaves the Ducks returning to media silence.
The Ducks will return to flying under the radar, and Lanning and company will continue to improve these Ducks who have made significant leaps on the defensive side of the ball this year. This week’s match-up against Stanford is relegated to the Pac-12 Network, mostly because Stanford is just that bad. No one is going to watch or even talk about this game, unless Oregon trips up on “the Farm” which has happened in the past. That is unlikely with this year’s teams.
It also wouldn’t be surprising if Lanning and the Ducks try for a shutout against the Cardinal. Lanning isn’t doing it for the clicks, but knows the team must constantly improve if Oregon is going to make a run at the Conference Championship and a Playoff appearance.
Stanford provides another learning opportunity for the Ducks. They have a solid run game and will give this Oregon defense a chance to work on their rush defense and continue to improve their pass-rush. It is also the second road game of the year and will give the team some practice of traveling and playing on the road.
The following week is a bye week for the Ducks, so expect no one in the national media to cover the Ducks that week — and don’t be surprised if Oregon even moves down in the polls. I would expect them to stay in the Top 10 to help provide hype for their future showdowns, though.
But just like this week’s game at Stanford, it is a significant opportunity for player development, which is Lanning’s focus. In that pre-game speech Lanning opened by saying, “It is rooted in substance; not flash.” — and that is precisely what showed up on the the field against Colorado and what should continue to show up on the field. This team has enough talent to make a run at the Playoff, if not the National Championship this year, and they only need to continue to focus on themselves and improve every week.
The next time the Ducks will emerge on the national radar is October 14th when the Ducks travel to Seattle to take on the Huskies. Washington and Michael Penix have grabbed a great deal of media attention this season. They are a good football team, but so far this week they’ve played an out-of-conference slate of: Boise State, Tulsa, and an incredibly bad Michigan State. Then in Washington’s opening game of conference play they had Cal, who they handled without much of a problem (even if the final score looks a little closer than the game actually played out).
Penix has all the Heisman hype around him right now, and he is a good quarterback with three great wide receivers. They’re playing in a system that is designed to put up massive passing yards, so of course he is going to get the hype. Washington is also a trendy pick — this feels like the year where it is popular to pick against the Ducks. So on October 14th, when the Ducks are back on everyone’s radar, don’t be surprised if the narrative paints Oregon as the bad guy again. It will be Washington’s special season and we are just there to hopefully ruin it.
And as Lanning said, “This game ain’t going to be played in Hollywood; it’s going to be played on the grass.” It doesn’t matter what narratives the media is pushing, as long as the Ducks continue to surge in silence and dominate on the field.
Top Photo By Eric Evans of Oregon Football X Account
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in technology in SLC, Utah.
David Marsh is a high school social studies teacher in Portland, Oregon. As a teacher he is known for telling puns to his students who sometimes laugh out of sympathy, and being both eccentric about history and the Ducks.
David graduated from the University of Oregon in 2012 with Majors in: Medieval Studies, Religious Studies, and Geography. David began following Ducks Football after being in a car accident in 2012; finding football something new and exciting to learn about during this difficult time in his life. Now, he cannot see life without Oregon football.
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