A strange and unfamiliar feeling

I watched the Civil War with fingers crossed for Oregon, and when they won, it was… what’s the word? Fun.

No strokes, no rage, no elevated blood pressure, just enjoyment of a good game.

But it got worse. I called my brother, an Oregon alum, and we cast aspersions at James Rodgers, and discussed the sheer un-Oregonness of not collapsing at the key moment. I said I was looking forward to the Rose Bowl, and I meant it.

Is this what it was like before the Mongol Horde came roaring out of the Coliseum under the Khan Carroll? I think it was. It’s no bad trade for an exasperating season.

(But they’d better improve next season so I don’t have to maintain the image of mature enjoyment of the sport…)

Civility continued

If you were wondering, the Oregon – USC game passed by without incident between the authors of this blog. Of course, the fact that we can barely be bothered to put fingers to keyboards helps that a great deal.

back like cooked crack!

I’ve been busy. We moved, we had no internet connection. I was providing vacation coverage at the serious SC blog. Excuses excuses.

However, things are picking up – we’re less than 4 weeks away from the start of college football, the Scottish Premiere League is already on the go, and the English Premier League kicks back into gear this weekend. And much as I enjoyed watching David Beckham demonstrate the value of an accurate forward pass in the friendly against Chelsea – almost as much as I enjoyed watching Gordon Strachan trying not to go purple when Celtic let him down again in an MLS friendly – this is the real deal.

I suppose this is where I should put some kind of predictions, but season previews are for people with energy and commitment. For college football, there’s really no need to go beyond Phil Steele, although the inimitable Sunday Morning Quarterback is probably the next closest authority – and bless Steele’s heart, he’s just not as funny. As for English footie, the top four will try and array themselves for Europe in 2008, and some mid-table team will start strong and fade in the stretch. The usual, unless Roy Keane detonates in early January.

At this point I’m going to get even lazier and copy in portions of an email to my brother and occasional co-author, Thistle71:

Did you see that Celtic could only manage a goal-less draw with Kilmarnock last weekend? At least Rangers were able to beat Caley Thistle. I’m a little more positive about the Gers since they hired DaMarcus Beasley – he’s got the right lack of tactical nous for Scottish football but they’ll like him for putting in the effort, I suppose.

I’m looking forward to having the DVR for recording footy matches – because the evening replay is not always what I want to watch. Being able to catch champion’s league games will be good as well. And I think this might be the year I give in, jump on the bandwagon, and openly support Arsenal. Because there’s something splendid about the fact that Wenger has almost entirely rebuilt the team, and still has no defense. It’s not very Highbury, but it’s entertainment galore. And while I remain intrigued by Alex Ferguson’s efforts to build an attacking midfield of men with no necks, I can’t be an overt Man U supporter.

Speaking of, when we went to Pittsburgh the other weekend, we were having lunch in a Chick-Fil-A in Cumberland, MD, and there was a kid there with either a Man U or a Chelsea shirt on… and I thought, that’s amazing, to see a local kid here wearing that. Turned out the whole family was English. What the hell they were doing in Cumberland, I have no idea.

There you have it… the theme for the season is fans out of place, and the highlight will probably come in September when Thistle71 and his charming fiancée tie the knot in Edinburgh – preceded, if all goes to plan, by a trip to McDiarmid Park in Perth to watch Partick Thistle take on St. Johnstone. Ah, the highland rain, the crap football, the pies… I can hardly wait.

FFFRREEEDDDOOOMMMMM!!!!

While the signing of only two Polynesians signals Oregon’s likely refusal to listen to my calls to put a satellite campus on American Samoa, February has still brought good news out of Eugene. 

The odds of me showing up at Autzen wearing a kilt with a body dyed with woadwent up exponentially when on signing day the Mighty Oregon Ducks displayed their commitment to autonomy and self-determination by landing a two star cornerback by the name of William Wallace.

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This commitment to the Live Free or Die ethos was made all the more blatant with the hiring of former University of New Hampshire offensive coordinator, Chip Kelly.

Mr. Carroll, consider yourself and all other liberty hating flatlanders (read: dctrojan and cohorts of troy) on notice.

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You Guys Look Good without Hawkins, but Oregon State Will Eat You Alive…

Above lies an actual quote. An actual quote by an actual asshole. An actual asshole who writes before you.

I was at Boise State’s season opener against Sacramento State and honestly found it quite enjoyable. The Smurf Turf lacked the lustre it seems to have when televised, but it was beautiful nonetheless. One most certainly can’t fault the Boise Autumn. The town itself, at least the area around Broadway and Park Center is electric. The Chili’s directly across from the stadium closes their parking lot to traffic and opens a beer tent with cheap tacos and cheap beer. It is pure and classic America in the Treasure Valley.

Their fans all very nice and surprisingly welcoming to a guy walking around their stadium with a University of Oregon shirt on.

Anyway, long story extended…

Got to talking to a guy and his wife sitting next to me. He used to play on the team, married his college sweetheart, had kids and still lives in town. They got a sitter and decided to have a nice dinner and catch the season opener. Classic Americana. We talked jobs, respective homes, and made the connection that people who have spent long periods of time in mid-sized Northwest towns seem to be able to make. Obviously though, we talked football. For every Pac-10 bias I posited, he countered with a WAC equivalent. Through out it all, he was very gracious. A trait tested in full when yours truly mentioned the quote that titles this ramble. He looked at me and then at the sun setting on the Treasure Valley, smiled and said, “Guess you could be right. You guys in the Pac 10 play some good football.”

Damn straight – I thought.

Ayway, Boise State bullied Oregon State and would more than likely have done worse to Oregon if given the chance. I couldn’t have been happier to see them come out victorious in the Fiesta Bowl. That it was against Oklahoma, a team that can be a point down against Oregon with a minute left, positioned snugly on our 27 yard line, still not be clutch enough to score and spend the rest of the season talking about how it was the officiating that lost the game…made it a little sweeter personally.

But that’s just a Pac 10 bias which shouldn’t take away from the extreme gonadcraft that was on display. Pure clutch.

Remember there is no “Z” in Boise. But there are two “S’s” in Jackass and two “S’s” in Stoops.

Oregon – USC: your hosts converse

Pity poor Thistle71, working in a place so Draconian that his computer is not just locked down for the addition of new software, but also doesn’t allow end-user management of cookies… thereby eliminating his capability to post to this blog. Or so he says.

Therefore, without further ado, via the miracle of email we bring this roundtable on the Oregon game:

that game was complete shit.

right now, i just can’t figure out who is getting out coached – belloti, crowton, or allioti (DC) or all of the above. the frankenspread that oregon runs is fantibilliastic against weaker teams, but complete shit against the real deal. our only real quality win was over oklahoma, and that was down to brilliant officiating and the sooners choking at the end.

dixon is shitty under pressure if he has to do anything but run, and his ability to run is dependent wholly on people blacking for him. injuries aside, the offensive line has been seriously lacking in that department. then the solution is bringing in leaf, who has the mobility of a felled tree.

i predicted an 7-5 season…it is all becoming frighteningly real.

the civil war is scaring me. home team has won since the late nineties. the beavers are strong at home. we can’t perform in big games. ugh.

Being a sympathetic chap, I responded:

I don’t know that it was that bad… I think where it fell apart for Oregon was that you couldn’t get the running game going for shit, and the run blocking made it harder for Dixon to scramble — which is just as well, because when he did, he was getting some serious yards. And who would have guessed that the SC secondary would get it going? I think it looked worse because the time required for the spread play to develop might actually favor the softer coverage that SC has been playing this season, and you all caught a defense that’s starting to get it together.

As for the Oregon defense, putting a freshman corner (? or was he a safety) on against Jarrett and Smith means that even Lane Kiffin is going to be able to get a mismatch now and again for some yardage, and the USC O-line did a decent job of run-blocking.

The penalties for Oregon didn’t help, that much is true.

So I don’t think it’s a question of being out-coached on defense; it’s just that SC is still pretty good at fast passes and run-blocking. On offense Oregon got stymied. I suppose that’s on Bellotti. Did you catch the blink-and-you-miss-it handshake at the end of the game?

And Thistle17 concluded thusly:

penalties always kill us.

our defense is banged up and we just suspended our only experienced corner indefinitely.

i really think our offense got out coached. first, our blocking was atrocious, which is what i think killed the running game. second, there is no excuse for getting a combined 234 passing yards and only having one TD to show for it. third, nobody broke chauncey washington’s leg. (that was where the defense really let the team down)

[Editorial note: perhaps the Oregon defense is in fact that dumb and they just thought that Moody was Washington.]

end of the day, while i appreciate the sick amount of yardage that the spread gives, i think it gets shown up against quality competition.

either way, we are guaranteed a winning season and should be getting a bowl game and a pretty good Civil War out of the season. that’s not bad.

There was also a long rant about the MLS finals over the weekend (yeah, I didn’t watch them either) which I will wait for himself to publish this evening so that they (the comments) can marinate in scorn.

As the Dust Settles…(Oregon and Oklahoma)

I can officially say, “I was there.”

After caravaning down from Portland with the green and yellow army, repeatedly playing CW McCall’s “Convoy” and proclaiming myself “Rubber Duck,” and some poor hapless schmuck in a teal Montero, “Pig Pen,” I arrived at (cue needless histrionics) the cradle of Oregon Gridiron, Autzen Stadium.

One pulled pork sandwhich later, sitting in serendipity in the season ticket section, I was awestruck at my luck in finding someone willing to sell me 40 yd line tickets for face value without my manhood being compromised.

My last trip to Autzen was the 56-14 emasculation of Oregon State at the Fog Bowl of 05, the adrenaline from which was just ebbing. I was feeling good, but cautious. I have known Oregon from before the flashy uniforms and high expectations. I know exactly what can go wrong.

This first quarter was good. Dixon, who needs some off-field transgressions before he can replace my man Akili, started with his usual mistake. I can’t remember if it was a failed shuffle pass, a near interception, or a dropped ball. Doesn’t matter. This season’s simple rule – ignore the opening play. After that, the Ducks looked scary good – very efficient with a well protected QB.

This was particularly sweet as the arrogance from the Oklahoma players was palpable. At one point it became visible as #5 began taunting the crowd, motioning for them to cheer louder. I never noticed him playing. He is listed as a DB, so that would make him partly responsible for the 343 passing yards the Sooners gave up. Obviously, flailing his arms around is his key talent.

Then it kind of went to sh*t…

Neither team was particularly impressive. Oregon clearly went off the boil and Oklahoma didn’t seem to fare much better. Adrian Peterson did very well in those quarters, but that is not the same as Oklahoma doing well. Oregon managed some awful turnovers, and the Sooners pounced. A team with fewer attempted passes and fewer yards eventually took the lead. That’s what happens. That’s why you have to be “clutch.”

Of note was the last-second field goal scored by Paul Martinez that bounced over the post just as the half came to a close. That was key.

Time elapsed and all hell broke loose. Dixon threw an interception in, I think, the 5th minute and this was followed by a Sooner field goal. The less patient started to stream out, while the masochists stayed behind. No matter what, I have seen worse from Oregon. Old Timers in the crowd have seen much worse having been witness to 1983’s “Toilet Bowl,” a game in which Oregon and Oregon State battled out a 0-0 draw. Being down 13 to Oklahoma was nothing.

The stalwarts remained. The dodgy looking locals with “Ted Bundy was a Husky” t-shirts on regardless of the fact that we weren’t playing UDub. (It is afterall, as much a statement of empirical fact as it is a partisan proclamation.) The aforementioned old timers with faded Rose Bowl sweatshirts from ’95 and faint memories of the ’58 Rose Bowl. Then there were the masochists like me.

Here is where it gets fuzzy. Whenever one’s team is down, the improbable is always offered up as possible. “See, all they have to do is score a TD, make a successful onside kick, score another TD and do it in a minute and a half.” You never actually believe it will happen.

One thing lead to another and all of a sudden Dixon is making an impressive run into the end zone after his passing lanes were closed. Then all hell really broke loose.

The onside kick…

I couldn’t make out the melee that ensued and the jumbotron was of little aid. Additionally, I was too busy jumping up and down and calling for Paul Martinez to run it in. Either way, we were awarded possession and were gleefully unaware of the future controversy. All I know is it took an inordinately long time to review. Apparently the guy only had one angle to go by.

We drove down the field and were awarded a dodgy pass interference call. Looked bogus, but you take it if it is to your benefit, that’s college football. We score and I officially lost it. From 13 down to 1 up – Autzen exploded.

Oregon kicks off and instead of kicking deep, pull an obnoxious squib kick followed by atrocious tackling that allows Oklahoma to get to the Oregon 27. Despite the questionable kick and disappointing special teams performance, Oregon stood firm as Oklahoma ran the clock down to 2 seconds getting ready to kick.

They missed and all hell seriously broke loose. High Fives, hugs and shirtless buffoons rushing the field. Classic college football. Oklahoma’s #5 was no longer taunting us.

One can go back and forth on the quality of the officiating, but I find that pointless. It was bad and that’s life. The refs didn’t carry Dixon into the endzone or score the follow-up touchdown. They most certainly did not block Oklahoma’s field goal. Oklahoma were handed an opportunity to win the game on the Oregon 27 yd line with forty seconds left. They choked. Winning despite bad calls is class and clutch. Whining because you can’t overcome bad calls is weak and simply the result of not being clutch. The game was Oklahoma’s to lose at that point and they did just that.

I have read some opinions about Karma returning to bite Oregon. Anyone with any knowledge of Oregon Football history will know that this is no more than Karma returning a few favors for decades of misery. As to Oklahoma, if you believe in Karma, you might say they have some debts to repay. Luckily, it was my team who cashed in.