That's what Duck fans need right now. After a rocking start to the season that had most of us thinking Rose Bowl, we suddenly find that we have lost 2 of our last three games, tied with Washington State for third in the Pac-10. If the postseason were to start today, we'd not be going to Pasadena, but to Las Vegas. Fun as that might be, its not what anyone wants.
I'm not going to bother with a game recap against Washington State. If you want that, you can get it from the Oregonian. But let me keep it short for you: the offense was terrible, including 2 lost fumbles and two interceptions. Brady Leaf finally got some good things going, but that was too little too late. Due to the turnovers the defense, which had been playing with house money all season, never had a chance. With a 13-3 lead going into the half, Wazzu put the game away scoring two touchdown in the first five minutes of the second half.
Wazzu is a very underrated team. Its not as if the Ducks went into Tucson or Stanford and laid an egg. However, it is very concerning that both of the big road games that the Ducks have played this year, they have been very non-competitive. What it shows us is that we were dead wrong in thinking this team could compete for a conference or even national title--they are still evidently too young. But even if this is not a great football team, it is still a good football team. While it might provide little solace, we have to remember that most Duck fans predicted a nine win season this year. Its looking like that's about what we are going to get.
This game has brought forth several questions. With Dixon being benched, and Leaf playing so well, are we back on the quarterback carousel? I doubt it. Even if he had a rough game, Dixon is still the better quarterback for this offense. It just shows that he still has some maturing to do. With the injuries mounting, will this defense hold up all year? That is actually a good question. The Ducks are simply running out of bodies.
However, there is something to take comfort in. In what everyone knew was a rebuilding year, we are still flirting with ten wins. We will be going bowling. We are still in the top 25, even if we are barely hanging on by the skin of our teeth. And, of course, we return almost everyone next year.
It is encouraging to note that our program has reached the stage where this is a down year for us. After all, most programs consider 9-3 a great season. We are still right to be disappointed. We see that these players have the potential to be so much more. But let's not be like Michigan, Oklahoma, or all the other hated divas of college football. One only has to look to Corvallis or Seattle to realize how lucky we still are.
In short, losing sucks. But its not like we didn't see this kind of season coming. And the fact that they played well enough early in the season to raise our expectations so high is a good sign. So be disappointed in the loss, as I know I am. But keep it in perspective. Any Duck fans who made it through the 80s realize that we still have it pretty damn good!