Less than fond recollections of Oregon's post 2001 Fiesta Bowl record begin with a visit to Autzen in that '02 season by ASU then the more damaging visit by USC the following weekend. This game is the first opportunity since for the Ducks to assert possession of anything more lasting than a thought they belong at the top of the heap. That they haven't over the past few years it is plain to see, but it is also true there hasn't been an opportunity to win a ballgame of this magnitude since Michigan. The Oklahoma game of last season was diminished by the loss to Indiana that preceded it.
In games like this, the viewer is reasonably assured each team will deliver a haymaker of one variety or another to the other – turnovers and special teams the probable circumstance. It's what happens in between that could make this tilt the Pac-10 game of the season – the 2K5 version of last year's SC/Cal – or Oregon/Cal for that matter.
It would be to Oregon's advantage to make certain this game is a butt-kicking contest. Sending SC home standing rather than sitting – and setting that tone from the first series to the last – would not only tilt the schedule clearly to the Ducks' advantage, it would go a long way toward putting the past three "spinning wheel" seasons firmly in the rear view mirror. It would be sweet to make a point of not watching as they recede from view.
That's a mighty big "if" on both counts, granted. The BK philosophy is the exact approach Oklahoma abandoned in last year's BCS championship game to their deep regret. It is logically to the Ducks' benefit the game is at Autzen – though home field hasn't been the lock it once was. - as well as to have the Trojans scheduled in early as the first conference game for both.
"Be strong grasshopper" advised one ancient sage; "SEIZE THE MOMENT" seconds Zonker Harris.
Someone with ABC who is easily the most overpaid programming planner in the business – at least for one week – selected this game as a featured broadcast. Beyond these two teams – themselves question marks to significant degree – the rest of the conference looks like the doofus selling a billion books for $19.95 on late night FSN. ABC's broadcast of this match-up will be the first opportunity for anybody to get a handle on how this race will shake out, as well provide the rest of the country an early reading of Pac-10 conference strength.
The more comprehensive review this contest deserves will be saved for once fall camps begin, though the subject may come up in conversation once or twice before then.
OUT OF LEFT FIELD
Orange and Black is actually a decent color scheme – looks good on the Gigantes by the Frisco Bay, wasn't bad on the old hometown uni's – though we did go through a stretch of some really UGLY satin orange round ball road threads – and is functional enough to identify an annual holiday celebrated by taking candy from strangers dressed up as someone else. However, there are those to whom these colors instinctively evoke a different response and they can quit reading till next week…
Most are aware the Beaver baseball team will be playing a best of three series with USC in the NCAA Super-Regional tournament this weekend, after hosting and winning a regional tournament the week before. Villard Hall is only slightly more a relic than collegiate baseball is in Eugene. There is a club team on campus, but as with the SC game, this topic - and all its permutations – is for a different time.
It's not a far drive to the OSU campus for me and they've a very entertaining team to watch. The Beavs look to be a team that has steadily grown to understand how they play the game best and are doing so at precisely the right time of the season. ESPN or ESPN2 will be covering Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (if needed). If you are a baseball fan you oughta watch… or listen. KEJO 1240 out of Salem is the radio outlet for those who can find the signal. I'm told a Portland feed is in the works, so as they say… check your local listings.
Till the next time…