Why on Earth would any sane person want to rehash the worst, most gut-wrenching, heart-breaking moments of their most beloved team?
Well, if you can’t learn from the past you’re doomed to repeat it right?
Okay, actually as a fan that doesn’t really matter. But you can’t appreciate highs without experiencing the lows. So with the 2008 college football season close upon us, I believe as a fan (of any team) you should take the time to remember those losses, and gird your loins for another season ahead. For most of us, sadly, it’ll probably end in disappointment. Not for my beloved Ducks however. They are pretty much a lock for the Super Bo…err… Rose Bowl.
A few things to point out – I’m not considering losses in a bowl game. That is the culmination of a season; there are no what-ifs to ponder in a Sun Bowl loss. Bowl games rarely change the direction of the program save for a national title game.
Most losses can either be put into two categories: close losses that hurt because so much was at stake or blow-out losses that exposed a fraud of a football team. High expectations meet harsh reality.
Final note – Cal, you make too many appearances on this list. Go back to sucking please.
So with very little fanfare I present to you - Oregon Ducks: Top 10 Worst Defeats of the Past Decade
10. 2004: INDIANA 30 – OREGON 24
Oh what a very bad omen for a very bad season. This loss is notable for two reasons: one, it’s the only non-conference loss to make the list; two, it’s the only loss on the list where the winning team had ABSOLUTELY no reason to expect to win the game. The Ducks came into the game ranked 24th in the nation and with high hopes after a strong finish to the 2003 season. Indiana, on the other hand, won two games the season before.
What is remarkable about this game is that the Ducks didn’t lose by more. Kellen Clemens threw three interceptions and the Ducks couldn’t find a punt they didn’t want to fumble. Oregon turned the ball over SEVEN times and only lost by six points. It was the Ducks first non-conference loss at Autzen since 1994 and it would be the start of Mike Bellotti’s only losing season to-date. It was Oregon’s first game of the season and the Ducks were obviously ill-prepared.
You may not remember: Dennis Dixon rushed two times for four yards and threw one pass which fell incomplete. Without a doubt a sign of great things to come.
9. 2002: ARIZONA STATE 45 – OREGON 42
The Joey Harrington era was over, but for the first half of the 2002 season that was no cause for concern. The Ducks started the season 6-0 and everyone was thinking BCS. I remember it now… Oregon doesn’t rebuild, Oregon reloads! Fife for Heisman! Wow Autzen is so much bigger, we’ll never lose here again!
Oh but we will and in spectacular fashion.
For some reason it took six games before a team realized that we were starting two freshmen CBs in Alliotti’s defensive scheme that likes to put them out on an island. ASU took note and QB Andrew Walter threw for a school record 536 passing yards. It really was a ruthless assault on a helpless secondary that once you got over the anger of what you were watching you almost wanted to pity these guys for being embarrassed so badly. But then you went back to anger.
Other teams realized what ASU had discovered and Oregon would go on to win one game the rest of the season. Special blame needs to be placed on defensive coordinator Nick Alliotti. He took way too long to make an adjustment and should have known better than to let the season ride on a group of young CBs not getting much help in a stop-the-run-first defense.
You may not remember: Believe it or not Oregon actually went into halftime with a 21-0 lead.
8. 2004: OREGON 27 – CAL 28
This is the only game on the list where the Ducks weren’t supposed to have a chance to win the game and expectations were low. This game makes the list because of the awful, heart-breaking way in which it was lost.
The Ducks were slowly crawling back from a disastrous 1-3 start to the season. Oregon had won the previous three games and things were turning around. A Sun Bowl berth was a realistic possibility. But Cal was ranked #4 in the nation, and being that the game was at Cal, most Duck fans didn’t really get their hopes up.
Cal had a great D that season and the Ducks offense was meddling. That didn’t stop Oregon from jumping out to a commanding 27-14 first half lead. All of a sudden Duck fans were thinking, screw the Sun Bowl, let’s run the table and get to the Holiday!
WR Keith Allen had other plans.
The solid, but unremarkable Senior WR would leave his lasting impression on the program for all the wrong reasons. The last play of the game came down to a 4th down last chance shot to get the Ducks into field goal range for a game winning kick.
On the play Keith Allen found himself wide-open. So wide open he could have easily pranced into the end-zone. There was not a defender around him for 20 yards in any direction.
Keith probably realized how wide open he was and freaked out. He dropped the ball that hit him squarely in the hands. Game over. Ducks would lose their final 2 games of the season and stay home come bowl season. Ouch Keith, ouch.
You may not remember: I was actually in the stands for this one. The dropped pass looked worse in person than it did on TV. TV didn’t give you a feel for how wide open he really was.
Coming up…. Losses 7 through 4. Featuring more Cal, and an awful 95 degree day at Autzen Stadium.