'07 was perhaps the most interesting season in the history of Oregon football. It started off with low expectations and a quarterback controversy, saw Oregon emerge as the best team with the best player in the country, had it all come crashing down, and ended with it being built up again. It had more plot twists than the best mystery novel. But, despite the disappointment of the Dixon injury and the three game losing streak, this is a season that should be celebrated as one of the two or three greatest in the history of Oregon football. Think of all that was accomplished this year:
- We went into the Big House to face the winningest program of all-time, and thoroughly dominated and embarrassed them on their own field. While the three long bombs were exciting, it's the fake Statue of Liberty that will stand as the iconic play of the season, and will live on in Oregon lore.
- We beat Washington in Seattle with one of the greatest rushing performances in the history of Oregon football. I know its been a down couple of years for the Huskies, but any win in Seattle is a good win.
- We took out USC for the first time since 2001, and then went out and beat another top ten team in Arizona State the next week. It was the first two showdowns of top ten teams ever at Autzen. It happened in the span of two weeks, and we took out both of them.
- College GameDay came to Oregon twice, unheard of for a West Coast school. Those appearances put Oregon back on the national map as major player in the College Football world.
- Even if it was for a far too short duration of time, we saw the best, most dominant team in the country, and the best player in the country. Even though major injuries started to hamper this team with the Paysinger injury in week two, Dixon was so good that the offense actually got better despite suffering what seemed like a key loss every week.
- We saw that our new offensive coordinator is a freaking genius. In spite of losing all those major players, and suffering three defeats to end the regular season, we saw Chip Kelly build the whole thing back together with a not very fast freshman quarterback, and a couple of freshmen receivers (Maehl and Pflugrad) who we didn't even think would take the field this year. In a span of a month, he had these players ready to blow out a South Florida team that was pretty damn good. That game also got the bowl monkey off our backs.
- Ultimately, we ended up winning nine games, including our bowl game for the first time since '01. And we don't exactly have a lot of nine win seasons or bowl victories in the history of this program.
There will always be a little pain and what ifs when you remember this season. But also remember the long bomb to Paysinger against Michigan. And the one to Colvin against Stanford. Jonathan Stewart running all over Washington and South Florida. The fake statue of liberty. Dennis Dixon emerging as the best player in the country, faking out cameras left and right. Remember how a ragtag defense gelled into one of the best in the conference. Matthew Harper's interception against SC. And Thurmond's interception against USF. Remember Aaron Pflugrad stepping up as a clutch receiver in the middle of the season. Jonathan Stewart running on nothing but heart in the Civil War. Jeff Kendall's rant on the Jim Rome Show. And Justin Roper turning in a flawless performance in the Sun Bowl. Remember waking up at 5 a.m. to get to Autzen for GameDay, and seeing the whole country fear Oregon football.
Take some time to step back and remember the good, because there was a lot of it. It was truly a magical season in Eugene. August can't come soon enough.