Rivalry Weekend: Oregon Stands Tall

In a rivalry weekend featuring many top 10 teams and many of the games decided in the final minutes, Oregon distinguished itself by dominating its rival, Oregon State, 31-7, and the game wasn't even that close. Moreover, the Beavers are having a good year at 8-4, #16 at the time (now #21). The game illustrated the quality of this Oregon team, which has only stumbled twice this year, once in a close win over Texas Tech, and again in a loss to Uw. It appears to be a hallmark of this year's Duck squad: consistency and dominance.

Rivalry weekend also facilitated matchups between

All of these games were closer than expected (with exception to the Ohio State-Michigan matchup; it lived up to its billing) and all of them featured highly ranked teams struggling against inferior (and unranked) rivals. Oregon, facing a ranked rival, is the only team in the top 10 with a decisive victory. I was surprised, not at how the unranked teams played up, but how the ranked teams didn't prove their dominant selves. Instead, they unleashed myriad questions. In my opinion, Oregon's performance stands above all these.

Past years have seen talented Oregon teams falter against inferior opponents. The 2001 Fighting Herringtons dropped a game to a mediocre Stanford team. The 2007 Dynamic Dixons fell to Cal before falling apart with the loss of Dixon himself. In 2010, the undefeated Ducks almost fell prey to a pesky Cal team. In 2011, a similarly built Duck team buckled under the lights facing LSU then spent 3 quarters squandering opportunities before a 4th quarter rally fell short against USC.

  • 2012 - Stanford (but a talented Stanford this time)
  • 2013 - Stanford again, then Arizona?!
  • 2014 - Arizona again!
  • 2015 - Utah
  • 2019 - Arizona State
  • 2021 - Stanford, then Utah (x2)
  • 2022 - OSU

This is not an exhaustive list of all the times Oregon failed to play to its potential. Some of the failures were still wins. Often the fault was on the defensive side of the ball, but not always. 30 years of Duck fandom has ingrained in me a level of anxiety (that often manifests as irrational Panic before every game) that has not found fertile soil this year.

This Oregon team is not perfect, nor even necessarily the most talented across the board, but it has outshone prior Green-and-Yellow groups in its high floor. Poor performances, for this squad, are still quality performances. Mistakes are compensated for. They leave little doubt when they leave the field. They can compete with any team. I hope the rest of the nation sees what I see. I hope the Heisman voters and the Playoff Committee especially do. It's startling what Lanning has been able to instill in two years, but what a joy to watch.

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