Friday, November 22, 2013

Oregon Football Game 10: Zoning Out In 'Zona

Down in the Desert?
Last week in this space it was mentioned that USC certainly had the potential to upset Stanford and all those Oregon fans who streamed off the bandwagon after losing to the Cardinal should remember how they swore off the Ducks. Then USC went out there and beat Stanford, and the first domino fell in the very unlikely Ducks-to-the-BCS-title-game scenario.

Now, the Ducks are 5th in the BCS standings and need just three of the remaining undefeateds to lose to get to the title game. That next domino could very well happen this weekend, with #4 Baylor at #10 Oklahoma State. The Bears haven't beaten a ranked team on the road in more than 20 years, that's 34 straight losses. The Cowboys have a much more than okay chance of making it 35.

The issue will come next week, when one-loss Auburn hosts #1 Alabama. A Tiger win over the Crimson Tide will push Auburn past 'Bama, and Oregon, too. Next week is also Florida State's last best chance to lose as well, as they are at Florida. Florida is terrible. We'll talk about that then, but it looks like FSU's road to Pasadena (where the BCS title game is the 2nd Rose Bowl of the year) is pretty clear, because they're going to play Duke in the ACC Title game. Yes, seriously.

Anyway, Oregon only remains in the BCS title game conversation, obviously, if they win out. And this week they're in Tucson, (12:30pm, ABC/ESPN2) where Oregon dreams die, or come awfully close.

I need only mention Dennis Dixon going down for good in 2007, ending Oregon's national championship game hopes, or the amazing overtime comeback in 2009 that kept the Rose Bowl a possibility, to remind Duck fans of recent history in Tucson. It is also worth noting as a counter-argument that the 2007 game is the last time Oregon lost in Southern Arizona.

In addition, this Arizona team has hit the skids in recent weeks. After barely beating Cal, the worst team in the league, the 'Cats made poor decisions in the 4th quarter against UCLA that ultimately cost them the game, (detailed here, in the Sam Wyche 2-point post) and then the next week made Washington State seem like the bowl eligible team by looking out of sorts until late in the contest, when the potential tying touchdown was caught out of bounds as time expired.

Not worthy of trusting.
Really, RichRod doesn't look trustworthy. Neither does Todd Graham, the Arizona State coach, but that's a subject for a different day (the Pac-12 title game preview, it seems like). I've watched RichRod's press conferences and of course various on-field interviews, and there's something in the eyes. Maybe it's because I didn't think he was a good hire at Michigan (and after three games in, neither did anybody else), because his success at West Virginia seemed like a smokescreen. Of course he was successful at WVU, but at the time they were members of the Big Least and even then they weren't exactly a football powerhouse conference.
Arizona's only “toss-up” game this season (that's the game where you go well, this one could go either way) now appears to be the Utah victory. At the time, losing to USC looked bad, but that was the first game after Lane Kiffin was fired and nobody knew that Ed Orgeron would be the key to Trojan resurgence. The desert upset doesn't seem like that much of a possibility.

Now, if Marcus Mariota's knee injury, the severity of which has been kept under wraps (thank you, don't forget to tip your waitress) is similar to Dennis Dixon's and the Ducks know that Super Mariota could snap at any moment, well, then 2007 could very well happen again, and other weird dominoes could start to fall. We've all seen that happen before. Like, last week.

photos courtesy: azcentral.com and goducks.com