Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ducks No. 1 for first time ever

When a No. 1 team loses, as did Ohio State on Saturday, the No. 2 team usually moves up a spot, but you never know with polls.

What's shocking is that it is the Oregon Ducks who were No. 2, but are now No. 1 in both major polls, AP (writers) and USA Today (coaches). Later Sunday, the Ducks were ranked No. 1 in the Harris poll.

It's never happened before to a team from this state. It's a major milestone. The last time a new team (Virginia) reached No. 1 in the major polls was 20 years ago. It's a spot usually occupied by the major football powerhouses.

Oregon has arrived, but not all the way.

It has yet to play for the national championship and the first BCS poll, a confounding system using multiple computer models which determines who plays for the penultimate college game, puts Oregon second behind Oklahoma.

To play in the championship game, the Ducks would need to go undefeated and have all SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 teams have at least one loss. Otherwise, the Ducks don't have a chance.

But forget that now. There has never been a true national champion in college football because there has never been a playoff system to determine the best team.

The Ducks are No. 1, though, in the hearts and minds of most college observers. That's quite a turnaround from Oregon's mostly dismal past.

I moved to Oregon in 1984, a year after the 0-0 "Toilet Bowl" game between Oregon and Oregon State. Neither team was distinguishable from the other and both made the Bottom 10 poll for years.

To see the Ducks make the long, unsteady climb to this point is amazing.

Congratulations to all associated with the program, especially the long-suffering fans. Enjoy it while you can.

Because it could all end Thursday when lowly UCLA comes to Eugene for a night game. Hey, the Bruins dominated Texas, which just took down Nebraska.

Three years ago, Oregon was ranked No. 2 and then saw it all unravel in a Thursday night game against Arizona in Tucson when QB Dennis Dixon went down for the year.

Injuries could play another major role as the Ducks play USC a week after UCLA and those two teams always have recruiting classes rated much higher than Oregon has ever had. That means that UCLA and USC have bigger, faster, and perhaps better, players than Oregon does.

Here's hoping that Oregon escapes the injury bug this season although they had serious close calls with two key players when they whipped Washington State last week.

Being ranked No. 1 enlarges the target on your back and everyone wants to take their best shot at you. The Ducks will find out that holding on to that spot is even harder than making it to the top.

Go Ducks!

You're No. 1, at least for this week.

1 comment:

  1. And how about baseball? Oregon State University won the NATIONAL Championship in baseball in 2006 and 2007. NO ambiguity there. Go Beavs!