This is just the humble opinion of a long time Oregon fan. For some context, I’m in my mid 20s and have been going to games at Autzen and road games all over the country since I was a kid. Memories of blue collar Oregon teams grinding out wins vs. ranked Illinois in the late 90s in what was a night game thriller with Autzen being as loud as I can ever remember, a win in ’94 vs. Desert Swarm Top 10 ranked Arizona in the game after “The Pick”, the ’97 win up at Husky Stadium and Pat Johnson’s heroics, double overtime miracle in Tempe in 2000, Byrd’s punt return TD vs. Purdue in West Lafayette at Purdue in ’08, Musgrave years with big wins over Top 5 ranked BYU at the pre-expanded Autzen in early 90s and his early building blocks to our present success, and some exciting years with Alkili Smith and Saladin McCullough putting up huge numbers, to name just a few favorite memories that come immediately to mind.
I’ve been following this program closely for a long time, and like many of you don’t care how we get there, who’s there waiting for us, I just want to see my Oregon Ducks win these next two vs. ‘Zona and OSU and punch their ticket for the biggest stage by far this program has ever been on. I do have a thought on this though: We don’t want to play TCU or BOISE STATE in the BCS National Title Game. It’s not a case of I don’t think we can beat them, because as objective as I can be taking a step back and looking at potential matchups with both teams, I like our chances. It’s all about national perception.
I won’t make a book out of this, I’m just curious if others agree with me or if I’m in the minority on this.
My fear is Auburn loses to Alabama in the Iron Bowl the same day we play Arizona, and even though they beat South Carolina in the SEC Title game it’s not enough to get them to Glendale. Therefore, TCU or Boise State hold of a conference champion-less LSU team, a Big 10 champ Wisconsin (or Ohio State, Michigan State) and another conference champion-less Stanford team. While it’s debatable, my gut feeling is TCU or Boise St. get into title game if AU loses and still knocks of USC in SEC title game, I just don’t see voters keeping an undefeated TCU or Boise St. out of title game. Ask me that 6 weeks ago, I would have said differently. (I’m hypothetically going to presume BSU gets by Fresno St and Nevada, and *gulp*, TCU beats New Mexico on the road)
So, on Jan 10th in Glendale, you’ve got the Oregon Ducks playing TCU or Boise St. for all the marbles. No SEC traditional power, no Ohio State, no U.S.C., no established penthouse level college football team. Sure Oregon is a national brand, and it’s growing to be a player in national recruiting and a name associated with not just NIKE, and gimmicky sizzle but good football; but let’s be honest with ourselves. Oregon is not a Penn St., Texas, an Alabama, or a Miami. There are no national titles or Heisman Trophies in the halls of the Casanova Center. These other “major” programs are down this year, many of them are, no doubt about that (see current records in Austin and Tallahassee just as a good example). I’m afraid come 1/10/11, when the whole country is watching, the Oregon Ducks run onto the field and then followed by the Bronco Orange or the Horned Front Purple you’ll have people saying, “Geez, 2010 was a down year for college football and that’s why the Ducks and fill in the blank, got into the game”. If Auburn is there, I think that image won’t be in the casual observer’s mind.
THIS IS NOT A KNOCK ON TCU OR BSU. Two very good football teams this year, and have built themselves very good programs. We should know as Oregon fans, all reasons aside and whatever excuses we want to fabricate, BSU beat Oregon the last two years in 2009 and 2008. I hate it, but it’s the uncomplicated truth. The problem though, is you have mentalities out there like Lee Corso, who still think TCU or Boise St. is their TCU or Boise State’s from the 70s, 80s, or 90s, and they don’t see them as ‘powers’ that deserve to be in the national conversation. The old mindsets see the Fiesta Bowl with BSU beating OU as a fluke, BSU’s current win streak is all vs. inferior opponents, TCU’s mighty “D” coming against soft offenses in a mid major Mountain West… I’ll stop there.
For this very reason, I want Auburn to beat the Tide in the Iron Bowl, and have them beat South Carolina in the SEC Title Game and then we’ll meet the SEC’s representative in the BCS Title Game. Let TCU and Boise State fight it out in other BCS Bowls, and see how they fair against Ohio St, LSU, Stanford, ect…
This thought was provoked, when sitting in traffic after work here in Washington D.C., one of the ESPN Radio’s D.C. anchor said it’s a ‘down year in the college football world’ and that’s why you are seeing all these whacky polls, with UCF and Nevada in the polls and teams like TCU, BSU, and Oregon dominating the Top 5. He went on to back his argument up by looking at the last time USC, Penn State, Texas, and Florida State were all out of the Top 20 with none of them in the mix nationally. The other guys on the DC air waves went back on forth, but it’s old school exclusionist mentalities like this that really alarms me.
None of this matters if we don’t take care of business at home vs. Stoops’ Cats, and then up I-5 in bean dip stadium. Win or lose these next two, it’s been one hell of a ride in 2010. Win the day. Go Ducks.