Prior to the Michigan State game, we had an article here at ATQ about the difficulty in finding reasons to hate Michigan State. With little history between the two teams and a mutual respect for them as a whole, it was simply hard to muster up any hate for many of us Duck fans. I felt the same way to an extent. However, towards the end of the 2nd quarter in the heavy weight matchup at Autzen this past Saturday my stance changed very quickly. Perhaps it was because I was sitting adjacent to the Michigan State fan section. Maybe it was the MSU fan that started a fight in the nearby seats, or maybe it was the MSU fan I talked to who was legitimately infuriated that Autzen had the audacity to play the White Stripes-Seven Nation Army. "They’re from Michigan!," he so proudly boasted. Add that to the "Go Green, Go White" chant that annoyed me to no end. Maybe it was the fact that their fans taunted the home crowd around halftime like they already won the game. Spartan fans, the game has four quarters. Ice up. In reality, Michigan State just outplayed the Ducks through the first 30 minutes of play and I was left to sit on my hands in frustration, see our Midwestern guests pat each other on the back, and watch a guy throw a Frisbee to a dog for ten minutes in the halftime show. All I know is that my level of hatred for MSU football went from about Colorado to U-Dub in 0 to 3 and that team I once respected was forever tainted with ill feelings.
The point being is that in my extremely biased Oregon athletics fan hood, I can learn to hate virtually any team that dare beat the Ducks. It’s an exceedingly flawed logic because hate is a strong word and doesn’t truly belong in sports. At the end of the day it is "just a game" after all. Despite this retrospect that fans deep down can all agree on, it still doesn’t prevent us from getting carried away in the hoopla from time to time. Any given Saturday your team can get beat which means at anytime you can add another team to the "I can’t stand those guys list." Sports even led me to drop my first ever "F-bomb." It was around the tender age of 8 or 9. I believe it was aimed at then Sacramento Kings shooting guard Doug Christie. Another example of newfound hate came from the Ducks defeat to Arizona last year in which B.J. Denker decided to have the one good game in his career. I used to pity Arizona’s football team. Arizona is college basketball royalty while their football team is a mere afterthought that is stuck with Rich Rodriguez as their coach. With the Wildcats upset in Tucson, it ridded Oregon of their BCS bowl game ambitions. In the rematch this year, nothing less than a fifty-point blowout will satisfy me, and I hope Helfrich goes for two, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. B.J. Denker didn’t receive a single NFL tryout invitation and is now playing in Switzerland. The irony.
Let's get back to picking on those Spartan fans though. Who had a worse Saturday than Michiganders? The Tigers lost 5-4 to the Giants. The states pride and joy, the Maize and Blue lost 31-0 to their historic rival Notre Dame, and Sparty managed to waste away a halftime lead against Oregon to end up losing by 19. Also, the Lions are still their states NFL team mind you, and will likely somehow find another way to catastrophically collapse and miss the playoffs this season.
Back to the Pac-12 and a Duck team that is coming off a statement win against a top 10 ranked opponent. This week they will face off against the University of Wyoming here at Autzen Stadium. In a game that will likely have the feeling of an NFL preseason matchup with our starters expected to sit the majority of the second half, there are still a few story-lines to pay close attention to.
One of the greatest things about sports and rooting against whomever your team is playing is having the opportunity to expose any weaknesses or glaring flaws your opponents possess. However, in some cases it just feels like your team is playing the role of 2nd grade bully picking on the kindergartners at recess. This will definitely be the case against Wyoming.
Disclaimer: Trying to find ammo to unload on poor Wyoming is like searching for imperfections of Mila Kunis. One really has to dig deep.
Team: Wyoming Cowboys
Record: 2-0 against Montana and Air Force in two nail-biters.
Players to hate, aka key players: Quarterback Colby Kirkegaard, who was asked to fill the big shoes of last year’s hot-shot QB, Brett Smith. Brett Smith thought he had himself such a good junior season that he decided to leave school early to pursue an NFL career. He went undrafted and I have no idea as to his current whereabouts. Running backs Shaun Wicks and D.J. May are the ball carriers and Dominic Rufran and Tanner Gentry are their main receivers. On the other side of the ball, Jordan Stanton and Mark Nzeocha are their stud linebackers.
What you shouldn’t hate: Their head coach, Craig Bohl. This guy has won at practically every school he’s ever gone to, which is a blessing and a curse. Best-case scenario for Cowboy fans is that Bohl turns them into the class of the Mountain West conference (which is like becoming employee of the month at Target). After a few successful seasons, he’ll then bolt to some other more appealing destination, and then Wyoming will fade back into even more irrelevancy. The worst-case scenario is that they continue the status quo, which is a team that went 3-5 in the Mountain West Conference last season.
Apart from his coaching accolades, the best thing Craig Bohl has going for him however is that he’s not former Washington Husky player and Wyoming coach Dave Christensen! Dave's claim to fame in Wyoming football history came back in 2012 when he made a fool of himself with his infamous "Howdy Doody" rant after a loss to Air Force. Sure, his outburst ended up costing him 50k but with it, he single handily put Wyoming football on the map…for five minutes. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Another thing I like about Wyoming is their colors. They’re so atrocious it’s awesome. But don’t try and church it up Wyoming, They’re not brown and gold as you say. They’re diarrhea and mustard. Embrace it.
What you should hate: The University of Wyoming is referred to as "UW". Every school at the top of my head that also shares that moniker makes me cringe in disgust. One of those schools is located almost 300 miles north of Eugene, but I won’t divulge in a rant against them until October. The other is Wisconsin, known most famously for their uncanny ability at losing Rose Bowls/beating Oregon in the third round of the NCAA basketball tourney.
Aside from those petty jabs, I have very little to bury Wyoming with and I’m fine with that. The Cowboys will come to Autzen early this Saturday; get blown out like expected but will hopefully take some quality lessons from the game and use it for the betterment of the rest of their season.
All in all, Duck fans will leave Autzen stadium with another win to smile about while also admiring the persistence and "good effort" the Cowboys played with for four quarters. In our eyes this is a win-win for everyone.
I wish Wyoming the best of luck on the 27th when they travel to East Lansing to take on the Spartans. They’ll most definitely need it.
Next victim: Washington State