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1 Day to UW - Remembering 1994

Well, college football is upon us. It is a beautiful thing to have football on again, and we are 1 day away from the glorious return of Duck football.

And with one day remaining, we will look back at what is arguably the most important game in the history of Oregon Duck football.

It's important to remember what life as a fan was like before this play. Though the Musgrave years had been a giant step in the right direction, things had slipped in the early 90s, with Oregon having trouble even having winning seasons. They never seemed to win the big games, and lost games they shouldn't.

1994 didn't start out much better, with embarrassing losses to Hawaii and Utah. Somehow, the team was able to turn things around quickly and won huge games against Iowa and USC. The USC win was at the Coliseum and the first there in many, many years. But a loss in the Palouse and a win vs California followed, so there Oregon sat at 4-3 (2-1) going into Washington week.

But after that USC win, there was a feeling that this team could be special, that it could compete with anyone in the Pac-10, even a Husky team loaded with talent. And compete they would.

The defense dominated for most of the game, but Oregon still was down by 3 with 7 or so minutes remaining. Danny O'Neil is now remembered fondly, but at the time, he had the knock of never winning the big games.  The 4th quarter of this game changed that. After Pat Johnson slipped down at the 2, O'Neil led Oregon on "The Drive," first hitting Dameron Ricketts for 35 yards, throwing out of his own end zone. Then, converting big 3rd down after 3rd down, including a ridiculous looking scramble and stretch that somehow kept the drive going. On 3rd and 3, Dwayne Jones took it up the middle on the fullback dive for the touchdown, giving Oregon the 24-20 lead.

Despite the defensive success the rest of the game, Washington stormed down the field. And it seemed like we were about to get sucker punched again. But, a young freshman made a play that will be hard to top. You've seen it a million times, and yet it never gets old.

Both of these sequences and plays changed the fortune of Oregon football. They caused all fans to believe. They came through when it mattered most. They won a huge victory over a hated rival to propel Oregon to its first outright conference championship and first trip to the Rose Bowl in 37 years.

This game truly changed Oregon football, moving it forward in an incredible way. That it happened against the Huskies makes it that much sweeter.

Tomorrow, a new season begins afresh, and a new team begins a new journey. We can only hope they have a little bit of the '94 team in them.