Game Day: Buyer Beware

With the victor come the spoils, along with certain inevitability.

This one I saw coming a mile away. It wasn't a matter of "if," but when, where and how long after Oregon's win Saturday night I'd hear or see the first display. Sometimes it's obvious; sometimes it's subtle. Often it's veiled, but often it's overt. Yet, always it occurs and always it's transparent…at least to me.

What is it that I speak with such a familiar tone? It has many names; some call it a form of sour grapes, ESPN's Bill Simmons refers to it as a "reverse jinx," while I simply call it evil. It is the attempt by those outside your fan base to poison you and your team with overconfidence, heightened expectations, and a feeling of false comfort, all in the spirit of a curse. A curse in the form of a wolf yet cloaked in sheep's clothing.

If you're a fan, you've seen it as compliments, congratulatory remarks, proclamations of invincibility, and all from sources not normally prone to such and usually prone to quite the opposite. Things like, "wow, I just don't see anybody beating those guys," or "man, it looks like it's just their year," and "that quarterback is virtually unstoppable," all things, which if taken at face value are complimentary, however through the eyes of experience and cynicism, translate to espionage.

You see such rhetoric stems from jealousy and fear. Fear that a hated rival is on the cusp of something great. Fear that a formidable foe is building something greater. And fear that due to the aforementioned possibilities, their beloved will become less relevant…and they're all valid points.

But don't fall for it.

Don't allow such ingenuous praise to burrow its way into your psyche. Admonish attempts by the enemy to derail your humility and draw you into karma purgatory. They're setting a trap, it's your job to avoid it.

Times like these invite predatory attacks and games like Stanford can provide predatory results.

"It's just Stanford."

"You've beaten them 7 straight."

"Their mascot's a tree!"

I've heard this week.

"Your real test won't come ‘til Civil War."

"They don't have a home field advantage."

"This team's too tight knit to succumb to a let down."

People have said.

And to an extent people are right. Some of the aforementioned may be true. Oregon has beaten Stanford in seven straight games. Their mascot is a tree and their home field is while very nice is on the lower end of the formidably scale, but to act as if any or all of those points assure a Duck victory is to tempt fate.

And you don't want to do that.

Yes, it's hard not to chuckle at the thought of forest denizen inspiring a team to victory. True, Stanford has at many points during the last decade been fodder for teams in and out of the Pac-10 Conference on the way to title runs. And, absolutely Oregon should win this game on paper (coincidentally the primary byproduct of the Cardinal's dancing Yuletide mascot), both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

But it isn't a foregone conclusion, in spite of what "others" may want you to believe…or at least say.

Opposition wants you to admit your belief. They want you to exude confidence. And they would love nothing more than for you to predict victory. But don't buy what they're selling. It may look good to you, feel good to say, and sound good to hear from those normally on the other side of the fence. But like the old adage says; "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

And in this case, there's no "probably" about it.


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