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Reliving the Season: California

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Leaders:

UO | Cal

 

Passing:

Dixon:  306 | Longshore: 285

 

Rushing:

Stewart: 120 | Forsett: 101

 

Receiving:

Colvin:  74 | Jackson: 161

 

Some games we don’t really want to relive.

 

This was an early season clash of the titans.  #5 Cal was the team everyone expected to be here.  After thrashing Tennessee in the season opener, Cal was the team destined to challenge SC for the conference crown.  They returned two dynamite receivers in DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins, a very good running back in Justin Forsett, and a stout defense.  The only question may have been quarterback Nate Longshore, who thus far had been playing well.

 

We all know Oregon’s story.  We weren’t supposed to be at #11.  And, in spite of our hot start, I still think that much of the country was waiting for us to implode.  #5 vs. #11 was supposed to set an early tone for the rest of the season.  Time after time, we have seen such games be complete duds.  However, this game did not disappoint.

 

Really, this game started early in the morning.  College Gameday was on campus for the first time since I was in high school, and thousands of people showed up to take in the spectacle.  The band, the cheerleaders—UO pulled out all the stops for this one.  And, if you only watched on television, you don’t know the half of what went on at Autzen that morning.  It was early, dark, and cold.  But it was a party.  It was really a celebration of Oregon football.  If you’ve never been to a Gameday taping, they have giant TVs on which the crowd can see the broadcast.  My favorite moment—even moreso than Corso putting on the Duck head, was when a commercial for the UW/SC game appeared, and every broke out in the “Huck the Fuskies” chant.  I know that this happens all the time at Autzen.  But to do it with such enthusiasm before the crack of dawn was something to behold.

 

The wait between GameDay and the actual game was excruciating.  But, finally, kickoff was underway.  The first half was, um, slow.  The teams traded a pair of field goals until Snoop finally got in the end zone at the 4:36 mark of quarter #2.  No turnovers.  No fluke occurrences.  Just good, old fashioned defense.

 

The third quarter saw the offense come out as DeSean Jackson started running all over us.  Jackson would score, but Cameron Colvin would soon follow, and our slim 7-point lead carried into the fourth quarter.

What ensued has to go down as one of the most painful quarters in Oregon football history.

 

Cal came out strong with two touchdowns to take the lead, though Dixon quickly responded to tie it back up.  Oregon got the ball back on its next possession with 5:46 to go poised to drive down and win the game when Dixon made maybe the only mistake he’d make all year.  It was the wrong read, and a dumb throw that went straight into the arms of the Cal defender.  Justin Forsett finished the deal to give Cal the one score lead.

 

But Dixon got the ball back, and drove the Ducks fifty yards in three plays to the Cal 17.  His next pass was right on the money, but tipped, and intercepted.  But the defense would hold, and Oregon would get one final chance to drive 77 yards and tie the game.  Dennis was up to the task.

 

In just a little over a minute, Oregon ran a whopping 8 plays and had gained 72 yards.

As Cal called timeout with 22 seconds left, the Ducks stood on the five-yard line, first and goal.  There was no way this game wasn’t going to OT.  And, sure enough, as Dixon completed the pass to Colvin down the sideline, the game was ti—

 

Only it wasn’t.  The euphoria in the stadium quickly turned into confusion.  As Cam Colvin stretched out his hand toward the end zone, the ball squirted out—at the one-inch line.  It then trickled through the end zone, and out of bounds.  Cal football, touchback.  If the ball goes backward out of bounds, its still Oregon ball.  If it goes forward out of bound on any other spot on the field, Oregon ball.  It’s a dumb and excessively punitive rule, but it’s the rule.  One lousy inch, and our chance at perfection was shot. 

 

Autzen was as quiet as I’ve ever heard it after that.  You could’ve heard a pin drop exiting the stadium.  The eerie silence continued across to footbridge and onto campus.  Its amazing how silent 59,000 people can be.

 

But I feel the most sorry for Cameron Colvin, as this play will likely be his UO legacy.  He was finally stepping up to be the playmaker we all thought he would be, only to suffer this, then break his ankle the next game before he had a chance to erase this memory for our minds. 

 

At this point, we figured our national title hopes, however long they may be, were shot.  But although we were miserable for the day, the rest of the country saw this game differently.   We actually moved up in the polls afterward.  And the fact of the matter is that this game did as much—even in defeat—to cement our legitimacy to the rest of the country.  There was only one question left:  would we fold in our first real test of adversity?  Wazzu was up next week.

 

GO DUCKS!!!

 

--Dave (addictedtoquack@gmail.com)