By GEORGE ARTSITAS
It seemed like a sign from above. The USC loss to Stanford last week was what everyone in Eugene should’ve wanted. It put the Ducks in the driver seat in the Pac-12. They control their own destiny now and it’s exactly the position you want out of you’re first three weeks playing.
Granted, I understand that facing USC on Nov. 3 would’ve not only been the game of that week (and a good week of football it is set to be), if both teams ran the table, but maybe the game of the year. The argument about us making it to the National Championship in Miami would’ve been finished, done, if they won that night under those circumstances. But now, we know two things: If we run the table, we still should be in Miami for the National Championship and also, USC isn’t like Vince Papale. They’re vincible.
There is an argument to be made that if USC was the No. 1 or No. 2 team, it would help our resume for the national championship. Here’s the thing, how good the teams we are playing are only relevant if we lose a game. We’re not Boise St., we’re not Hawaii. The Ducks have an automatic entry way into BCS Series if they win every game on their schedule this season. Game Over. Period. End of Story. The National Championship should be in the mix: Only one AQ FBS program (2004 Auburn) has ever gone undefeated and been snubbed on a shot for the National Championship. So barring a repeat of 2004, an unblemished record should hold up fine.
We might even have a back door (long)shot if we lose to USC in Autzen for the Pac-12 championship game if we come in undefeated. Oklahoma pulled it off in 2003 after losing to a Darren Sproles led Kansas State team in the Big 12 championship game, and Alabama made the National Championship with one loss last year without even going to their conference championship game (We can pat ourselves and Oklahoma State on the back for that one, however).
Once we lose a game, it’s time to bust out the computers with intentions of understanding the horse-hockey grading system of the BCS. Until then, I’m like most Oregon fans just hoping to run the table and not leave anything to chance.
There is really no chance of the November matchup be devalued based strictly on postseason implications. Look at last year, when USC had nothing to play for, and two losses already under their belt entering that cold mid-november game at Autzen. Was that not a game worth playing for? Was our Rose Bowl receipt not printed that night, “No returns, No refunds” stamped in ink across the back?
Now, looking down the schedule, we’ve got three rough games; Arizona, USC and Stanford. Barring some kind of catastrophic collapse by USC —and don’t hold out anything with a Lane Kiffin ran team… Right Raiders and Volunteers fans? — they will still be ranked alongside Stanford coming into their November matchups, probably each in the top-15.
With that being said, I am, without a doubt, much more worried about the game this Saturday against Arizona than the two games coming down the pipe: It’s your typical trap game, both offenses play very similar styles, and I just can’t shake a fear of Rich Rodriguez. Even after this:
This weeks game will be a hell of a battle, but after this bump in the hill, we’ll be staring at a bunch of cake-walks until USC in the Coliseum.
Let’s just hope this Saturday night late kickoff isn’t the beginning of everyone cramming computer numbers weekly to see if they still have a shot at Miami. I sure as hell don’t. Then again, all we have to do is win and it won’t be an issue. And win. And win.
Related Content: Our Reed Nelson takes off the optimism blinders and flips over to the other side of the coin; the filthy, scuffed up, pock-marked version of what came out of Saturday night. >> The real loser when USC lost to Stanford (Hint: It’s Oregon).