Now it starts.
Oregon made believers out of a national media who had swarmed to Seattle, I believe, to watch them fall, and in the process pushed quarterback Marcus Mariota to the front of a Heisman pack lined-up squarely behind last year's winner Johnny Manziel. If you questioned the Ducks' candidacy or were hesitant to anoint their sophomore signal-caller prior, you can't since, and shouldn't in the future based on what we have, did, and most-likely will see for the remainder of the 2013 campaign. This team and their quarterback are for real, and now it's up to them, not to prove that they're capable, but rather able to do what in all reality just isn't that easy: Live up to the hype.
Oregon's been here before. They ran the table in 2010 en route to a heartbreaking defeat in the BCS Championship Game versus Auburn, lost late in 2011 to a white-hot USC team which ended their chances, and suffered a head-scratching defeat to Stanford at Autzen last year, when the table appeared to be set for another shot at the title which alluded them 2 years before. While some would call such defeats chokes, I'd assert it's merely evidence of just how hard it is to win with everything on the line. You're going to get everyone's best shot, and going to need a little luck on a night when your shot's not your best. No one plays 12 – or in the case of a conference championship game, 13 – perfect games (Even the "great Alabama" has only gone undefeated once in their recent 3-title run), and it's the ability to overcome a poor performance which can often be the difference between a Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State, and an opportunity to win that elusive crystal football.
The season starts now Oregon, and every week is a step closer to the ending everyone desperately wants: An iconic opponent, a shiny crystal football, and just maybe a bronze statue your quarterback would almost certainly deserve.