Take a deep breath…
3. 2000: OREGON 13 – OREGON STATE 23
Hey remember the last time anyone on a national level cared about the Beavers? You know, the last time their late-season success had BCS bowl implications? Yea that was eight whole years ago.
It happened to coincide with Oregon’s best shot for the Rose Bowl since 1995.
The long history of the Civil War is more likely to be noted for its…long history, as opposed to matching up CFB heavyweights with any regularity. The 2000 season was not any regular season though.
The power of the conference tilted to the north with Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington dominating every other Pac-10 school. The big-three would wind up sharing the conference title. It may be a very long time before we see another result like that for the Pacific Northwest schools.
Coming in to the Civil War, Oregon controlled its destiny. Win and it’s on to the Rose Bowl. Lose and watch Washington, whom the Ducks beat 23-16 earlier in the season, take the trip to Pasadena.
The only thing in fifth-ranked Oregon’s way was Dennis Erickson’s rent-a-thug team, also known as the ninth-ranked Oregon State Beavers.
Most Oregon fans remember this game for Oregon shooting itself in the foot at every turn. Joey Harrington picked a bad time to have his worst game in his collegiate career by throwing five picks and completing only 24 of 46 passes.
The team as a whole decided do their best OSU impression by getting penalized 12 times for 132 yards. Many of those penalties resulted in extending OSU drives.
Even with all the penalties, turnovers, and general sluggishness Oregon found itself on the OSU 10 yard line, down by 10, midway through the fourth quarter. It was the kind of situation that Harrington normally excelled at.
Not in this game though—Harrington would drop back for a pass, get blindsided from behind, fumble the football, and our Rose Bowl dreams faded into an orangeish-blackish haze of pompous arrogance.
You may not remember: OSU would let this game catapult them into a decade of over-achieving low expectations. But hey even the kids on the short bus need goals.
2. 2007: OREGON 24 – ARIZONA 34
Ug. I really don’t want to write about this game. The wounds are too fresh.
Even though Oregon still had two games to go after the Arizona game you just knew, you knew that if Dennis Dixon stays healthy, Oregon would be in the national title game. It took no stretch of the imagination.
Oregon’s offense was just that dominant. Heck, it was dominant even with Dixon playing the first quarter on one good leg. He was still the best player on the field. He just couldn’t plant and move sideways, and when he did the weight of Oregon’s dreams came crashing down with him.
It just wasn’t right. It wasn’t right for Oregon to lose in a way that had nothing to do with losing to the better team on the field that day. It had nothing to do with being outplayed. It was just that one player was so spectacular an entire team crumpled with him when he fell.
Oregon’s defense completely dominated Arizona except for a stretch in the second quarter when they were trying to get over the shock of Dixon’s injury. I’ll forever believe that if Dixon’s teammates knew the extent of his injury before the game they could have better prepared themselves for losing him and had a good chance to still win the game.
I’ve got nothing more to add on this one.
You may not remember: I think we remember it all too clearly.
1. 2001: STANFORD 49 – OREGON 42
Numero uno. The most epic loss in Oregon history.
I won’t lie I did consider putting the Arizona loss No. 1, as I’m still more upset about that one, but I had to recognize that if Oregon withstands Stanford’s fourth quarter rally they’re playing for the national title. No ifs, ands, or buts. It’s the only blemish on an otherwise perfect season.
Stanford shouldn’t have had the ability to win this game. Stanford was playing at Autzen when the Ducks owned the nation’s longest home winning streak. They were playing with their back-up QB. They were down 42-28 going into the fourth quarter.
Also let's not forget Oregon had QB Joey Harrington, who legend has it, at the age of four taught John Elway the art of the comeback.
Stanford obviously needed a few lucky bounces for this game to go their way.
The two things I remember the most: Stanford WR Teyo Johnson picking footballs off the top of CB Rashad Bauman’s helmet over and over again for big gains, and those two freaking blocked punts in the fourth quarter.
Oregon lore masters tell me that it was the same special teams player responsible for missing a block that led to the two crucial blocks, one of which resulted in getting Stanford within a touchdown.
The other play the game hinged on was Oregon’s decision to run a pass play on third and one at their own 30 with the lead at 42-41. Harrington was hit as he was throwing and the ball floated into the hands of DE Marcus Hoover. Stanford would get a TD and a two-point conversion on the ensuing possession.
I’ll never forget the ball bouncing out of the end zone on Harrington’s last incomplete pass attempt on fourth down with the clock expiring. I was in absolute shock; I just couldn’t accept that the clock had 00:00 on it.
The finality of the game was hard to accept and its importance would loom large as the 2001 BCS fiasco unfolded.
You may not remember: In 1995 Stanford came into Autzen and beat the Ducks 28-21. The loss would keep Oregon from repeating as Pac-10 champs and making a return trip to the Rose Bowl. Just who the hell do they think they are?