Game Day: School Is In

Not officially, after-all students at the University of Oregon don't start classes until Monday, but if you're a fan of the Ducks and are expecting great things from your 2010 "Quackers," you're about to be educated.

Don't worry, there won't be a test following this dissertation. Your level of retention is of no concern to me, however what you see Saturday night in Sun Devil Stadium will allow you to much more accurately assess your Ducks, and adjust your level of expectation accordingly.

For many this may be a difficult concept to wrap their arms around, after-all, they've already concluded that this is the year. The year it all comes together, all the breaks go Oregon's way and anything shy of a National Title will equal that of a Sportsmanship or Participation award. You know, the trophy that looks good on the shelf, but after closer inspection reeks of mediocrity. That's not to say that such a trophy doesn't have its time and place, but that this isn't the time and it certainly is not the place for fans of the green, yellow, black, white and now grey. Such individuals see 189-13 and say, "you know it!" Those same individuals see 3-0 and say, "…a quarter down, three quarters to go!" And every one of those individuals look at a game with Arizona State as another "a**-whoopin' on the way to the crystal trophy!" But for others - the less exuberant majority – they sip their whiskey opposed to shooting it and slamming it enthusiastically on the table. They look at Oregon's first three games as a tune-up for the "real" race to come. They know that while the Ducks dismantled New Mexico, showed perseverance at Tennessee, and toyed with an undermanned Portland State squad, the conference schedule is a different animal.

The real test begins tonight.

Conference foes have history with the Ducks. They're familiar with their game, their players and the way in which they go about their business, and because of that they feel confident. The old saying is that "familiarity breeds contempt," contempt breeds inspiration, and a little inspiration can go a long way. In addition, the Sun Devils are feelin' it. They're fresh off of a near victory at 10th ranked Wisconsin last weekend and were a botched extra point away from an opportunity to be 3-0, ranked in the top-25 and representing a legitimate threat to the 5th ranked Ducks tonight in Tempe…so "they'd" say.

I already consider that so. There is no such thing as an easy game in this conference, especially on the road. (You see, that's the true argument against Boise State; if you lay an egg on the road in a BCS conference, you're probably going to lose, whereas if you're Boise State and you lay an egg on the road in the WAC, you probably still win by 2 touchdowns.) Arizona State offers a good test for an Oregon team who's really still a mystery. However, in spite of that mystery, I'm going to buy-in. I told you 2 weeks ago, prior to the Tennessee game, that I was going "positive." I'm going to think strong, believe what I've seen, and expect to see what I believe: that Darron Thomas IS what he seems to be, the offense IS as explosive as it's looked, and the 2010 Oregon Ducks ARE a special team on a potentially special journey.

But I still want to see it.

Teach me Ducks, show me what I want to see, what I feel may be the case, and what the fanatical minority has been telling me for weeks.

Take me to school.


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