Saturday will mark the first visit to Autzen Stadium by Colorado head coach Deion “Primetime” Sanders.
It will also, in all real likelihood, mark his only visit.
With Oregon and Colorado heading to different conferences next season, this will be the lone trip to Eugene for Sanders, who’s already showing what kind of difference he can make at a Power 5 school.
It will be a 12:30 kickoff, the weather looks promising, and fans have been encouraged to participate in Autzen’s first ever “stripe-out” where alternating sections will wear either yellow or green.
Whether the fans will truly make that a reality remains to be seen, but there’s one thing I’m more concerned with.
Sanders needs to have a lasting impression of Autzen Stadium. And in recent seasons it hasn’t been the Autzen a lot of us knew from the past…at least not completely.
In 2003 Lloyd Carr brought his third-ranked Wolverines to Autzen and claimed it was the loudest stadium he’d ever been in, this coming from a man who paid semi-annual visits to the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, and Iowa.
In 2007 the Pete Carrol-led USC Trojans came into Autzen having been a national juggernaut for the last few years and left with a loss that ended in an interception by Oregon. The noise level on that final interception: 127.2 decibels. Louder than a 747 taking off 100 feet away from you.
I remember being at Fright Night on Halloween 2009, and the noise was so prevalent you could feel it internally.
I remember catching a Top 10 battle between Oregon and Michigan State in 2014. On a particular sack in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, the crowd eruption was such that my ears actually did that extended beep thing like after an explosion.
Autzen can be one of the loudest, most intimidating stadiums in the country.
The question is, when will it be again?
Opinions vary, but the last time Autzen really felt (and sounded) like its old self to me was the epic battle with Washington in 2018. The atmosphere that day actually convinced blue-chipper Kayvon Thibodeaux to come to UO.
Obviously the pandemic threw a wrench in things with initially banning fans from Autzen altogether then instituting a lot of restrictions upon reopening.
That’s over now, we’re back to normality and Oregon is right in the thick of the conference championship hunt and maybe even the CFP hunt.
I’ll be there Saturday, and what I'm hoping for is a throwback to the days when Autzen truly became a madhouse, the kind of venue where visiting teams really don’t want to come back after playing there.
This is our chance to show one of the greatest athletes of all time how we rock the house in the Emerald Valley. Let’s not disappoint.