Admit it, we want ‘Bama vs Oregon

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Admit it, we want ‘Bama vs Oregon

The sun rises on a cold October saturday morning in Eugene, Ore. Autzen Stadium is flooded with early morning light as the Ducks prepare to take on the University of Washington Huskies. At the time, Oregon was (4-3) and not expected to go anywhere with the program. Saturday, Oct. 22, 1994 remains a date forever etched with the Oregon faithful.

Washington was driving down the field late in the fourth quarter only down four. As history reveals, the Huskies scored and stole another win from the Ducks. That day though, was for Oregon. Washington quarterback Brock Huard dropped back, tossed it to the corner of the end zone and for a brief moment, appeared as if he had a game winning touchdown. That was until cornerback Kenny Wheaton made a play Oregon fans will never ever forget. He jumped the pass and picked the ball out of the air. Instantly he began sprinting down the sidelines with every Duck fan screaming, “GO GO GO GO GO.” Wheaton crossed the goal line and sealed what would be one of the biggest wins in Oregon football history. The Ducks went on to play in the Rose Bowl against Penn State but couldn’t quite finish the magical run. Despite that, Oregon was finally a legitimate program.

On that same day, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 21-10 and went on to win the Citrus Bowl against Ohio State. The difference between the Tide and the Ducks that year was that no one was surprised with Alabama’s season. Oregon though, was just a “little team out west.”

Nineteen years have passed. Alabama is still a powerhouse and that “little team” out west instills fear into the teams it faces. In all likelihood, they show up, beat you by 50 points and leave with no mercy. It’s the warp speed offense that is revolutionizing college football and making the Crimson Tide just a little nervous on their throne.

This is the last year of the Bowl Championship Series with a four team playoff coming next season. The Ducks have appeared in a BCS bowl the last four seasons with victories coming in the Rose and Sugar Bowl. We all know about the heartbreaking loss to Auburn for the National Championship and the embarrassment received from Ohio State in the 2010 Rose Bowl. When Oregon beat Wisconsin for their first Rose Bowl in over 100 years, Duck fans seemed satisfied and content. I remember seeing the players celebrate at what they accomplished. But, that one was for the fans. Years of pain and agony finally ended when the referee said these few words:

“After further review, prior to the spiking of the pass, the clock went to zero. The game is over,” Brad Allen, Atlantic Coastal Conference referee, said. It was over. The torment of not winning “the big one” had finally ended.

The next day though, all Oregon fans could think about was winning it all and proving the Ducks could play with the big boys down south. Well, long story short, we had to settle for a beatdown of the Kansas State Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl and remained a “coulda, shoulda, woulda,” team.

This year though.. This year is different. You can feel it in the air. Oregon seems destined for the biggest trophy in college sports, the crystal ball. The Ducks have to finish though. One game at a time. But let’s skip the nonsense called the “regular season.” We want to talk about the National Championship.

The most anticipated potential matchup in all of college football is the Crimson Tide and the Ducks. We know that, but WHY?

Alabama has been one of the most historically recognized college football teams in the country. When you hear Alabama you think of one word: dynasty. Started by legendary coach Bear Bryant, who won six national championships, Alabama has been atop college football for decades. Nick Saban has led Alabama to three national titles all within the past four years. ESPN adores them along with the entire Southeastern Conference. Yet, that “little team” out west that still doesn’t receive enough recognition is out on a mission: take the throne and replace the Tide.

Led by new head coach Mark Helfrich, and a little bit of Phil Knight’s money, the Ducks look as threatening as Alabama. Oregon’s offense works at a warp speed and hikes the ball about every 17 seconds. They average a measly 61.3 points per game and their defense only allows nine points per game (don’t let ESPN know because Alabama allows 19.3 points per game, something’s clearly up). Let’s just get straight to the point: Oregon’s better than Alabama. There I said it. You can disagree as much as you want but its’ the simple truth.

This year’s National Championship will be held in Pasadena, Calif. in the Rose Bowl. If Oregon played Alabama, it would be one hell of a game (sorry for the language Mom).

“I think it will be a very close game and whoever wins will be because of turnovers,” Parker Kilstrom, junior, said. Not everyone agrees with Kilstrom though.

“Alabama would win because they have a stronger offensive line and their defense does work,” Danny Cupparo, junior, said.

The Pac-12 conference is deemed “inferior” by many throughout the country and frankly the critics should just shut up and quit being so naive. Sure, they don’t have the history of the SEC but it’s not like they’ve only been playing the past decade.

The Pac-12 has been relevant for over 40 years with just about every team in the conference jockeying for national title.

“The Pac-12 is somewhat neglected by mainstream sports media,” Cupparo said.

Oregon is the most criticized team in the country because college football “experts” fear change. They believe we have no tradition but most of all, they believe we’re a gimmick. Frankly, our “little team” out west just laid a 59-14 beatdown on the “beloved” Tennessee Volunteers out of the SEC.

“I think the Ducks will be in contention for years to come because of their superpower type of offense and defense,” Kilstrom said.

“They’ll be back after this year,” Cupparo said. People magnify to the SEC because they have won a national title seven seasons in a row.

“The SEC is the throne of college football and the overall level of intensity of the programs down there blow the Pac-12 out of the water,” Cupparo said. Despite that, the tides are turning west.

“The Pac-12 is a lot stronger with UCLA and Stanford, along with Washington and Oregon State,” Kilstrom said. “The Pac-12 has five very good football teams that are all in contention for a BCS Bowl game.”

All that aside, this is the year. This is the year for Oregon to win it all. Why? Out of all I said, this will stick with you the most. This is the last year of the BCS format. The last year of a computer picked number one and number two. It will be played in the Rose Bowl where Oregon first made its first major mark in college football over 19 years ago. Dethrone the king and take it for yourself. Win this for the university. Win this for the fans. Win this for the past players and coaches. Win it for the people who were diehard fans when times were tough and three win seasons were a miracle. Wrap up the BCS by finishing where it all began for you. Start the dynasty.

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