For the first time all season, Oregon gave us a cold reminder of what this team resembled under Mark Helfrich: apathetic, inconsistent, and completely lost without a quarterback. We weren’t kidding at the beginning of the year when we said that any record between 3-9 and 9-3 was in play. The 9-3 Oregon showed up against Nebraska and Wyoming; the 6-6 Oregon played Southern Utah, Arizona State, Cal, and even Washington State, (btw, Oregon was the canary in the coal mine for the Cougars. Did you see that shit in Berkeley last Friday night? Holy crap, they stunk up the joint). Last week’s game was that 3-9 Oregon team, where half the guys on the field are freshmen, and the whole team is playing like they’ve only been in this system for a couple months. Against Wazzu, the Ducks were outmatched, only it looked like no one told them they were outmatched, so they went out and ground down the Cougars for three quarters or so before letting the game get away. Against Stanford? It was as if the flight attendant on the plane down to SFO said, “There are emergency exits located at the front, middle and rear of the cabin, and the in-flight movie is “There’s No Chance in Hell You’re Stopping Bryce Love, So Why Even Try?” It was a bad game that made everyone feel bad.
That bunny was cute though, right?
You might be feeling abject despair about Oregon football right now. Justin Herbert is broken, the offensive line is sloppy and bad, and now the defense is trash too. But wait. What if I told you that performance just proves Oregon’s place among college football’s elite?
Let’s think about what happened in Week 7 in college football.
Clemson lost their quarterback, and then lost a Friday night thriller against Syracuse.
Previously-undefeated Washington State was absolutely demolished by Cal.
Auburn blew a 20-point lead to LSU, and thus suffered a transitive loss to Howard.
Washington was shut out for like 55 minutes by Arizona State, a defense that previously was allowing 36 points per game.
Louisville gave up 42 points to Boston College. Forty-two. To Boston College.
Oregon lost to Stanford 49-7. Oregon QB Braxton Burmeister finished the game with a QBR of 3.0. Stanford QB Keller Chryst finished the game with a QBR of 95.0.
Up there are good football teams, who played inexplicably and unfathomably bad and dumb games. Oregon’s loss doesn’t look out of place on this list. The only conclusion I can draw - and keep in mind, I am tremendously smart - is that Oregon is, in fact, a good team, and last week was simply Good Teams Are Dumb and Bad for No Reason Week. There are other narratives out there, but can they be trusted? The most prominent is the 2007 Redux storyline, where no one is good and everything is full of termites. Please, that couldn’t possibly happen again, that would require the likes of South Florida and West Virginia to be good.
Ignore those links, obviously a Skynet plot. Your Smart Meter spying on you in the bedroom or something. Let’s stick to the narrative that we like the best, which is “Oregon is very good, and just had a bad, dumb game in a week where other teams had bad, dumb games”
By this metric, let’s look at next week’s opponent, the UCLA Bruins, and see if they played a bad, dumb game and are therefore a Good Team.
UCLA faced Arizona and Khalil Tate, who a week prior set the NCAA record for rushing yards by a QB (327 yards on only 14 carries). Rather than make sure he doesn’t do that again, they let him do that again (230 yards on only 15 carries) in a 47-30 loss.
That’s an extremely dumb and bad game. Shit, Oregon might have its work cut out for it this weekend with what is clearly a very, very good UCLA team.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “So, if the good teams are losing games in dumb and bad ways, do we actually want UCLA to win this Saturday in order to remain a Good Team?” Great question, and I’m glad you asked it. The universe will tell us whether this week is a Good Teams Are Dumb and Bad for No Reason Week, or just a regular week where the good teams win and the bad teams lose. Should we see some dumb and bad things happen earlier in the day, then it’ll be a clear sign that Oregon should also be bad and dumb to maintain its status as a Good Team. For instance, when Oregon-UCLA kicks off at 4, let’s say Oklahoma State has scored 10 points in a loss to Texas, Wisconsin has lost at home to Maryland, and Virginia Tech is down 21-0 early to 1-6 North Carolina. These would all be clear signs that Oregon needs to lose to remain a Good Team. If nothing bad and dumb is happening, that means Oregon should win if it wants to stay Good. Does that make sense? If so, please explain it back to me because I’ve talked myself into a knot.
Additionally, this was pointed out to me on Twitter by the incomparable Cyrus Smith of SBN sister blog Underdog Dynasty.
.@takimoto23x I'm hoping Tako Tuesday involves some sort of theory where Oregon fans should root for UCLA so Mora doesn't get fired lol— Cyrus Smith (@CoolCyWrites) October 17, 2017
This is an excellent point, and a cause worth sacrificing the season for. Jim Mora, Jr. is very bad at his job, but it’s best for the rest of the conference that UCLA continues underachieving. After dropping three out of their last four, and road games to Washington and Utah looming, this might be UCLA’s last good shot at a win until November 11th. Oregon already single-handedly turned Arizona State’s season around by handing them a win, and thereby keeping Todd “My Hair Puts the ‘Meh’ in Mesa” Graham around; Oregon would be doing everyone a favor by giving Mora juuuuuuust enough credibility to weasel a two-year extension out of the UCLA athletic department. And that, much like college football’s great tradition of having good teams to bad and dumb things for no reason, is really the gift that keeps on giving.