Game Day: How Big Is It?

Certainly by now the ramifications of this game have crossed the mind of each any every Duck fan, regardless of the level of their allegiance. A victory today would signify a number of things for the Ducks, but just what would those things be and to what extent would such a result shake up the national picture?

While the "book" says that each game should be taken one at a time and that your most important game is the game you're playing, I'm not a player, coach or on the receiving end of any potential financial gain from an Oregon win. I'm merely a man with a few facts, an opinion, and a very clear view of what may lie ahead for an Oregon team on the cusp of something great. So while the athletes on the field require extreme nearsightedness, I'm afforded the luxury of looking ahead, and opportunity is what I see.

Opportunity, by definition, is a time or occasion that is suitable for a certain purpose; a favorable combination of circumstances. In this case, opportunity lies in the form of a football game and an intense media spotlight shining squarely on Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.

Sure, in weeks past Oregon has been on the periphery of the contending landscape, but Saturday in Strawberry Canyon, Oregon has a suitable occasion to draw attention to themselves and raise a few necessary eyebrows of voters who remain skeptical of a team and program mired in a cloud of doubt which has surrounded them since September 16th.

A win today would almost certainly plant them in the top ten, it would definitely make them the odds-on-favorite to dethrone USC as Pac Ten champion, and would without question put them in the middle of the BCS radar. Not even the Gameday crew, which has repeatedly downplayed Oregon's level of play in recent weeks, would be able to avoid a compliment or two following a Duck victory over the Bears.

Along with team accolades, individual acclaim would accompany such a triumph. Deserving players such as Dennis Dixon, Jaison Williams and Jonathan Stewart would begin getting the attention they not only deserve, but have earned as well. In addition to the aforementioned players, the defense in spite of its youth and inexperience would have to be respected for its quality of play, and not dismissed as an insignificant piece of a offense-driven machine.

Forgotten amongst the hype and match ups involved in this game, are the coaches. Since taking over at Cal, Jeff Tedford has received and inordinate amount of attention in support of his "coaching genius," while I agree that Coach Tedford is an outstanding coach and should be mentioned amongst the best in the country at the college level, let us not forget where he earned his stripes and under whose tutelage said "genius" was nurtured. Mike Bellotti, while respected by his peers, seems to have been forgotten by the talking heads hovering over the collegiate game. It was not long ago that he was the "flavor of the week" on the college gridiron menu, but has since been replaced by media darlings Tedford and USC's Pete Carroll. A win today would have to result in a renewed interest in Bellotti's accomplishments at Oregon, and again place him amongst the elite.

Considering the opponent, the attention, and the consequences involved in today's game, a favorable combination of circumstances exists for Oregon. While they've been knocking on the door of national respect for more than a month, today's game offers a chance to storm through that door. Not only for the team as a whole, but for individual players and coaches alike.

When opportunity knocks, you'd better answer, because it keeps no schedule and its return is unknown.

It's a big game Ducks, now go treat it as such.

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