Who would've though that Oregon would be in this situation at the beginning of the season? Through seven games, Oregon is 6-1. They are #5 in the BCS and legitimate national championship contenders. They control their own destiny in the race for the Pac-10 title. It all means one thing:
Saturday's game against USC is the biggest regular season game in Oregon history. If they win, Arizona State becomes the biggest, if they win that, then the next one takes its place. I know that there have been big games in the past--1994, 2000, and 2001 come to mind. But, in my opinion, this is bigger for a myriad of reasons:
- We control our own destiny to the Pac-10 title. If we win the Pac-10, the worst that we can do is a trip to the Rose Bowl, likely to face the Big 10 champion. Seeing as we haven't won a Rose Bowl since 1917, and we'd be favored by a jazillion over whatever pathetic Big Ten team we play, that would be a good situation for us.
- Even better is that we are fifth in the BCS. Arizona State is ahead of us, be we will have our own chance to knock them down. The question that we then have to ask: will LSU, Ohio State, Boston College, or perhaps Oklahoma finish the season without another loss. I think that its unlikely that, should we win out, more than one of those teams is ranked ahead of us, especially with the SOS boost we'll get with these games coming up. We obviously don't control our own destiny to the National Championship as we do with the Rose Bowl, but we can be in pretty good shape.
- The third reason is perhaps the most important. For a good seven year run, WE were the Pac-10 benchmark for excellence. From 1994 to 2001, we won three Pac-10 titles, played in a Rose Bowl, won a Fiesta Bowl, and finished in the top ten in the country twice. Since 2001, we have done none of those things, whilst USC has totally dominated the conference. This game is a statement. A statement that Oregon will not concede the conference to USC. That the late season swoons are behind us. We need to show everybody that the Ducks are back, and aren't going away anytime soon.
We can do very special things this season, but this game might be even more important for our future. We have them at home. We have the best offense in the nation. It is Oregon, not SC, that has the legitimate Heisman contender. And if we want to regain our place as top dog in the conference, this game is a must-win. There is no Reggie Bush. There are no excuses. Just do it.