The bye week has come and gone, and Oregon is still 2-4. It’s an upsetting record, but Oregon fans aren’t the only fans of a team that, halfway through the season, is having to deal with the fact that despite high preseason expectations their team is in fact a big pile of gross. For instance,
- Michigan State is 2-4, and just gave up 50+ points to Northwestern. At least our defense isn’t supposed to be the strength of the team.
- Notre Dame is 2-5, and has the worst record of any FBS team in the state of Indiana - including Purdue, who just fired its head coach.
- Mississippi State is 2-4, and that record does not accurately reflect their loss to South Alabama, they of the 0-3 record in the Sun Belt. Adjusted for inflation, their record should be 2-6.4 or so (I rounded down).
- UCLA is 3-4 with a far superior, albeit injured, quarterback leading them.
- Even the MAC’s normally reliable Northern Illinois is 1-6. Jordan Lynch just stopped what he was doing and got really sad, but felt better after a long cool gulp of Molson from out of the Grey Cup. Sidebar: I assume any Canadian trophy is one you can drink from, because Canada is a wise country.
So it’s not just us, everyone is terrible!
And if we’re being honest with ourself, a Friday night #Pac12AfterDark special against the back-alley game of dice that is the California Golden Bears isn’t going to quell any of our depression. At its best, this game will be a maddening late-night win where the last team to do something stupid loses. However, you can always find, hidden within a pile of despair and anguish, a moment of joy. With that in mind, I present an unranked list of Great Oregon Football Things During Otherwise Garbage Experiences.
2008 - LeGarrette Blount 69 yard run vs. UCLA
This game was awful. Jeremiah Masoli finished 5 for 19 passing for 42 yards (though one of those five was a gorgeous TD to Chris Harper just before the half), Jeremiah Johnson was largely ineffective, and Oregon struggled mightily to put away a UCLA team that averaged 1.7 yards per carry - on 37 attempts! - and would finish the 2008 season with a 4-8 record. Karl Dorrell coached this team, and Oregon almost lost to it. Disgraceful.
But oh, this run. It wasn’t LeGarrette Blount’s first signature Oregon highlight - his hurdle of a Boise State defender came a few weeks prior to this - but it was the first of many of this kind of run we’d see from the BFT: run into, and through, a wall of guys, and come out like Andy Defresne on the other side. Dude is special.
2010 - Cliff Harris punt return TD vs. Cal
This game was awful. Clancy Pendergast’s Cal defense stymied Darron Thomas and the Oregon offense all night, and the Ducks kept its national championship hopes alive on perhaps the only false start committed by a kicker in human history.
But oh, that return. You could write an entire “moments of joy amidst sadness article” just about Cliff Harris’ life. Arguably the most talented cornerback and return man Oregon has ever seen, Harris housed 4 punt returns in 2010, and this was the most important of them all. Shout out to, IIRC, Ben Butterfield for blocking two guys at once to spring the return, and how Harris manages to side-shuffle for five yards while maintaining his speed and balance, I’ll never know.
2011 - De’Anthony Thomas kick return TD vs. USC
Look at the score at the beginning of the highlight. 38-14 Trojans, late third quarter. The Ducks were getting absolutely embarrassed by Lane Kiffin - yes, THAT Lane Kiffin - and throwing away their chance at back-to-back national championship game appearances. The Momba’s 96 yard jolt had everything; a fake reverse, a near-tackle at the Oregon 15 yard line, and the mother of all cutbacks crossing midfield. It kicked off a 21-0 Oregon run. If only it had been a 24-0 run...
2011 - Casey Matthews forced fumble vs. Auburn
Casey Matthews deserved a national championship. Dude played his absolute heart out in this game, culminating in his chasing down Cam Newton from behind and punching the ball free in a moment that, had it happened in a sports movie, we’d have all gone, “Come on, at least they could try to be realistic for once.” That moment isn’t supposed to happen; Auburn was controlling the game, had a bona fide T-100 playing quarterback, and seemed destined to sit on the lead and not let Oregon get another shot at tying the game. Casey Matthews gave Oregon the shot they weren’t supposed to get.
Any other great moments in otherwise terrible games? Leave them in the comments.