...and why I just can't stop smiling today.
Keep in mind I was not living in Eugene until November of last year. I wasn't able to attend the USC or ASU games of 2007 or Oklahoma in 2006. Prior to yesterday, probably the biggest game I had attended was Michigan in 2003. I wasn't at last year's Civil War in Corvallis and have never been fortunate enough to attend a bowl game.
So last night's game is standing out in my mind as the greatest Duck victory I've ever witnessed in person. Not just because we beat a higher ranked team - I've seen that many times. It's more about who we beat, how we beat them and what it might mean, not only for this season, but for the Pac-10 in coming years. There's a ton of football to be played. This drive toward a Pac-10 championship and a BCS bowl game will be an uphill to the end.
I can't help but wonder if years from now, will we look back at this defeat of USC as a regime change in the Pac-10? Last night after the game I told friends and co-ATQers JShufelt and dvieira that I was dubbing this game a "Hostile Takeover". It was a coup. The current government was sacked, their leaders shamed, and Carroll The Smug exposed for all the public to see. All foreign eyes are now on the Pac-10 waiting to see what will happen next.
I'm not suggesting the Ducks are going to run off the kind of championship streak that USC achieved. Or that USC won't bounce back. They will, possibly with a vengeance. However, what last night's game may have begun is a resurgence in competitive possibilities at the top of the conference. Who, other than USC, will win the next five Pac-10 titles...Oregon, Arizona, Stanford, Cal, Washington, OSU? For the first time in several years that notion feels plausible.
Today I just have this sense that what I saw last night was more than just a great Duck victory. Only time will tell. Time starts again at 12:30 p.m. next Saturday in Palo Alto.
Okay...I got a little reflective there. Big games can do that to a guy. What else made yesterday a great day?
Getting in from Friday night festivities at 4:30 a.m., Saturday morning after hanging out with an old high school buddy who was down from Seattle for the game. I blew off Game Day at Autzen, and slept through the TV broadcast. At 9:30, Shufelt, Dom, his wife Sherrie and I drove out to Walterville for breakfast - those three relaxing after hitting Game Day early at the stadium and me shaking off the rust.
Just before noon we headed toward Autzen. We detoured to Fred Meyer for some supplies. Dom and I watched some of the '08 Civil War area that the store was playing in their Duck gear area. Felt like a good omen. Back in the car, Sherrie had bought Dom Vitamin Water...which he immediately noticed was some kind of fruit flavor, concocted "for defense". At that exact moment, we know The Juju was on our side once again. We walked the path through the park heading toward Autzen's south side. I had made that trek before, many years ago, but had forgotten just how beautiful it was to walk "over the river and through the woods" during fall in Eugene.
Dom said something about warm and fuzzy, and I joked that at his age he should be able to hold it better. We ran with that for a couple minutes then decided that meme should die right then and there.
At the tailgate, the weather held most of the day. Lots of friends, good food and drink, our usual visit from some UO band members and the added excitement of lots of little Ducks in trick-or-treat mode. After the game, the group was simply giddy. Just stupefied in a euphoric, post-adrenaline high that follows the kind of beat down we experienced. Joe got a call from jtlight who was clearly swimming in the same ocean of euphoria.
We did post-game at Papa's Pizza - about our third choice, but acceptable - in Springfield. We were just in time to catch ESPN's college football wrap-up show with Dr. Lou and the boys. Oregon was top bill, and words like "destroyed" and "annihilated" made us smile. We were pumping our fists as the guys rattled through the overwhelming statistics of Oregon's thrashing of USC.
It was a long day. A great day. I'm looking forward to what comes next.