Ah yes, it’s here; the one week of every second year that affords you the opportunity to feel second-class. That’s right; it is Civil War week, but not just any Civil War week, rather the Civil War week that sends you on a trip down “Bad Memory Lane.” You’re going to Corvallis, baby!
If you’re reading this you’re likely an Oregon fan, and if you’re an Oregon fan you’ve likely wasted…errr…spent at least a handful of regretful hours in or around Parker/Reser/our budget is limited so here’s half a stadium…Stadium, and if you’ve done so you’ve likely got a horror story or two regarding an undersized, half-witted, probably painted-up undergrad berating you and your intelligence, while failing to recognize the irony of him doing so while being an undersized painted-up half-wit. Bad experiences come with the territory regarding rivals hitting the road, and if you think it’s specific to any particular crew…remove your allegiance colored glasses.
I’ve had bad experiences everywhere I’ve been and I assure you everyone else has had bad experiences at Oregon. All barrels have their bad apples and if you’re looking for them they’re easy to find. However, due to it being “this” week and due to it being “that” team, I’m discarding legitimacy and rationale in the interests of what you want to hear. After-all, you hate them and they hate you – at least for a week – so why cater to a demographic that doesn’t exist? Let the hate begin.
If you’re “lucky” enough to find yourself in or around the “big burrito” Saturday afternoon, you’re likely to encounter a jackass or two thousand willing to either relinquish his/her integrity and/or “represent” in a way befitting a school incapable of collecting on a million-dollar-promise from one of its most notable alums. (Don’t worry “Glove,” your secret’s safe with me) You’ll see pasty-white-engineers-to-be with either O-S-U or B-E-A-V-E-R-S painted on their chests, novelty front teeth, and lots of road crew orange. Suspenders…somewhere, “Giant Killers” somewhere else, and some sort of T-Shirt sporting an unimaginative saying replacing the “D” in duck with a letter befitting a sexual act. You’ll also hear chants and see Y-M-C-A-esque motions celebrating their letters, and if you think that’s a chainsaw repeatedly ringing in your ears…it is, Timber Joey isn’t the only one celebrating a contribution to climate change; nothing says “get fired-up” like the repeated rev of a two-stroke engine…right?
Okay, maybe I’m taking gratuitous cheap-shots at a team and fan base worthy of better; after-all, it’s not their fault they regularly fail to sellout their undersized stadium. It’s not their fault they haven’t been to a Rose Bowl in nearly 50-years. And it’s far from their fault they suffer from an inferiority complex that’d make Jan Brady more-than-a-bit uncomfortable. Oh…wait.
What’s crazy is; in spite of all the aforementioned, the fact Oregon’s the reigning 3-time conference champion and prior to last week top-ranked – or #2 depending on the poll – team in the country, coupled with averaging 51 points per game and winning 14 consecutive conference games on the road, the Beavers have never felt better about their chances to win a game they feel is inherently there’s to lose. And all due to one bad performance in Autzen Stadium, coupled with a blowout win against a team circling the drain faster than a freshmen’s dinner on the first night of Rush Week. Oregon stunk last week, but they didn’t become the Jamaican Bob Sled team due to laying an egg against a pretty darned good Stanford team, nor should Oregon State be crowned Super Bowl Champs based on pummeling a Golden Bear team with nothing to play for and a coach on the way out. There’s a reason they play a 12-game season, and one game doesn’t render meaningless the previous ten.
Oregon’s a good team, and so is Oregon State. I expect a relatively close game Saturday afternoon and to be honest, wouldn’t be surprised by an outcome crowning either team, but to discard the heart, talent, and coaching of a team who’s spent the last three seasons earning their stripes, would be a discredit to the heart, talent and coaching of a team who’s spent the last 3 seasons earning their stripes.
Yes, I’m interested to see how the Ducks respond to what truly was a gut-wrenching loss last weekend. While history provides no evidence they’ll play uninspired, it wouldn’t be the first time a team in their position did just that. A week ago the world was their oyster, and now – while still outside shot at the big prize – they’re faced with the task of playing for a lesser medal, while the one they’ve been shooting for hovers over the heads of another. And they’ll be doing so against their in-state rival, on that same in-state rival’s home field.
Are you worried about the outcome this afternoon? I wouldn’t blame you if you were, but I would blame you if your reasoning for doing so was based on last weekend. Oregon is still a really good team, Marcus Mariota is still a very good quarterback, and Chip Kelly is still one of the best coaches in the college game. It will be a challenge for them in Corvallis and I don’t expect anything to come easy, but I believe in what I saw the first 10 weeks, and choose to believe less regarding what I saw one week ago.
If you’re going to Corvallis today I wish you well. It will be difficult at times and more than a few times you’ll want to lash out, but be patient, stay steadfast in your belief, and understand it certainly could be worse; that could be your stadium, your college town, and your team you’re dependent upon for entertainment 12 weeks of the year.
And you thought last week was bad.