(2) USC 2009 - Fright Night [Oregon 47 - USC 20]
Why It Should Win - When evaluating what is the greatest game of all time there are categories you build in your head to fit them into. Asking "what's your favorite Duck game of all time" will immediately illicit different categories in different people. Some people will immediately think of the games they attended; others will think about historical significance. Some people may think about the setting or circumstances surrounding the game, while still others will think about the opponent and what beating them meant.
It's hard to put Fright Night in any one of those categories alone. It was a sellout home game for the Ducks on national television not too long ago, so many still remember watching it, but it was just another conference game on Halloween so remembering where you were on that night isn't anything special. While playing USC is great, we've had bigger and more memorable wins against them, so I doubt anyone would rank beating them as their number one opponent, and Autzen is great, but it's not the Rose Bowl, or Jerry World, or even a BCS setting with all the pomp and circumstances.
So what made this game so special? Why should Fright Night be considered the greatest game of all time?
I think it's the trajectories of the programs. USC was five years removed from one of the greatest college football seasons of all time, and Oregon was just picking up steam. Prior to the game no one knew that USC wouldn't be the same for the next eight years, and Oregon was just getting started on their historic run. After the game it was clear things in the conference were different. One game signaled everything had changed. In life we call these paradigm shifts, in college football we call them a changing of the guard.
The setting, the opponent, the circumstances were all good but they weren't great. Changing the underlying assumption about who ruled college football on the west coast is great, and Oregon did just that on a Halloween night in 2009 and that's why it should be considered the greatest game in Oregon history.
(1) Wisconsin - Rose Bowl January 2, 2012 [Oregon 45 - Wisconsin 38]
Why It Should Win - I'm going to lay out my bias right up front, this is the greatest game I've ever watched. If you want to talk about the game play itself, it's hard to ignore that no team in the game ever had more than a touchdown lead. This was a back and forth battle of two really good teams playing really good football Russell Wilson was 19-of-25 for 296 yards. Darron Thomas was 17-of-23 for 268 yards. Oregon rushed for 345 yards on 40 carries. Oregon's defense did what they did best and shut down Wisconsin's rushing game, while Wisconsin's defense turned a strip sack into a TD. There were amazing catches, electrifying runs, and game changing turnovers. This game would go down to the final two seconds, and college football changed their rules about spiking to stop the clock because of this game.
Or we can talk about its historic significance. 95 years without a Rose Bowl win. Two attempts in the last 17 years with both coming up short to really good teams from the Big Ten. Facing another really good team from the Big Ten. Seeing guys like LaMichael James, Darron Thomas, or Kiko Alonso, who had faced adversity in their college careers hand Oregon something many thought would allude them their entire life.
Or the atmosphere and environment surrounding the game. The Rose Festival, the stealth bomber fly-over, the chrome helmets reflecting off the southern California sky. It was all memorable, beautiful, and impossible to forget.
This game had everything and that's why it should be considered the greatest game in Oregon history.
There you have it. The arguments are laid out for why each game should be considered Oregon's greatest game. So vote below for the one you think should win, and leave a comment about why.