Game Day: Take Your Trap And Shove It

Ever owned a rabbit's foot? Used an Ouija Board or Magic 8-Ball? How about a lucky article of clothing; had one of those? All of the aforementioned are superstitions and these entire superstitions stem from a form of paranoia tied to, but not exclusive to sports fanaticism. On paper, this week's game at Cal should be another decisive victory for your Ducks. Oregon's good, Cal isn't.

Oregon's is and has been ranked in the top-5 for quite some time, Cal thinks ranked is a grammatically incorrect word for some form of ill odor. And Oregon has looked human on only an occasion or two, while Cal's play has looked subhuman for the better part of two years. So the polls, most eyeballs, and statistics say Oregon should win Saturday night going away…and I agree.

Normally I'd run from prognostications of grandeur for fear of repercussions stemming from temptations of the above superstitions, but in this case I'm choosing to contest it head-on, and I'm using Chip Kelly's record to do it.

Over the past 3-and-a-half-years the Oregon Ducks have lost six games. Those games: On the road at #14 Boise State, at an Andrew Luck led Stanford team, in the Rose Bowl against #8 ranked Ohio State, in the BCS Title Game against #1 Auburn, opening day last year against eventual BCS Championship participant LSU, and home against an #18 ranked USC team who nine months later would be the Associated Press' preseason No. 1.

My point? Chip Kelly doesn't lose to bad football teams.

If you're one of the superstitious you're likely wincing at the thought of such a jinx. After-all, you likely own a rabbit's foot, have used a Ouija Board, and/or been defied by the Magic 8-Ball's "hazy" reply. But fear not, for my recognition of the possibility of said spirits trumps any possible backlash found often due to defiance, and you should take comfort in the facts before you, rather than run from the "negative time bomb" I diffused seconds ago. A bit wordy, but I think you get the point.

The California Golden Bears are struggling. To make things worse they'll likely be without their starting quarterback Zach Maynard, and their leading receiver and probable MVP Keenan Allen will be missing his second consecutive game due to a knee injury he suffered attempting to recover an onside kick two weeks ago against Utah. Sound like the recipe for beating the country's third ranked team? If not, throw in a head coach sitting firmly atop the "hot seat," a fan base which has likely turned to the trees…literally, and a roster full of players well aware they've got nothing and no one to play for the remainder of the 2012 season.

Now how does it look?

Stranger things have happened in the world of sports. Every week it seems I'm fighting the unlikely with memories of upsets past. I've referenced the Olympic hockey team of 1980, Golf's Francis Ouimet, and even Hollywood's "Little Giants." I've spoken of freak occurrences like the Flutie Hail Mary, Kirk Gibson home run, and Villanova's 78.6 % shooting percentage in the 1985 NCAA Championship Game against overwhelming favorite Georgetown, and now via the reverse jinx, disarmed evil forces responsible for much of the above. While aware of such anomalies, I'm leaning on the confidence I have in this coach and this team to guide me through the perils that sport provides us with.

You should too.

The Ducks have tallied a handful of potentially harmful injuries in recent weeks and due to such some are gripping. I'll agree that said injuries are worthy of concern, but am equally willing to concede that in the short-term this team's too good not to overcome them. It's time people – myself included – start acknowledging how good this team is and in the process give them the credit they've earned on the field. Rather than expect the worst based on the unlikeliest of odds, trust the history of a team who's lived up to the hype, and a coach who's taught them not to buy-into it.

Is this a trap game? I suppose, based on the definition constructed by pundits who get paid far too much to build hype in games unworthy of such. But by the numbers, by recent history, and by the underrated grey matter between my ears it doesn't qualify. I know what this team can do, what its coach has done, and what they both need to do in-order to get where they're trying to go. Could they stumble en route to the lofty goal they hope to achieve? Sure, but Saturday won't be the day, and Cal won't be the team to do it.

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