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Oregon Ducks vs. Syracuse Orange

No, you didn't miss something on the schedule. The Ducks and the Orange are not playing each other, in any sport, any time soon. But since the football season is over for Syracuse, and it's finals week so there's no basketball until Sunday, I figured I would take this opportunity to write a little bit about my experience out in Eugene last month. My sister lives there, having moved to the college town last year to take a job as an occupational therapist. When she said "You have to come visit me!" I knew I had to time my trip to maximize my sports exposure -- specifically, see a Ducks home football game, and a Ducks home basketball game.

Oregon Ducks Football

When I looked at the home schedule, there was one game that not only stood out at me, but fit the bill for being able to see football and basketball -- a November 1 game against PAC-12 rival Stanford. So I bought tickets when they went on sale back in July, and though I guess I knew I was buying obstructed view seats at the time, I didn't really think much of it. Well, the above picture shows the extent of what I could see -- which was most of the field. Annoying, but, whatever. Anyway, Autzen Stadium is a great college football atmosphere! The tickets told us to wear black, and the crowd did so and really got into the game. I guess it helps when the product on the field is so good. All that Nike money, crazy uniforms, it actually works out well. The whole town is really into it. I went to the mall before the game, and literally everyone there -- shoppers, workers, etc. -- was wearing Ducks gear!

Speaking of the product on the field, this football team is really good. They dominated Stanford, easily winning 45-16. They deserve that #2 seed in the College Football Playoff. If you haven't gotten a chance to watch them, be sure to check out that semifinal game. They run a hurry-up offense, with a multi-faceted run/pass system centered around likely Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. They're high octane, score early and often, and tire defenses quickly. Having seen both Oregon and Florida State play in person this year, here's what I see happening in that national semifinal in the Rose Bowl on January 1:

In typical FSU fashion, they'll have a horrendous first half. But it won't be 17-0 at halftime. Oregon could easily put up 30 points before the break. But the thing is, even if the Seminoles get their act together and score in the second half, they will have dug themselves too deep a hole to come back. Look for the Ducks to move on to the championship game, in convincing fashion.

Oregon Ducks Basketball

Since this was early November, I knew I wouldn't be seeing a stellar PAC-12 matchup (if there's such a thing), and quite frankly, it's not like Oregon is the powerhouse basketball program like it is for football. Honestly, I really only wanted to go to see that infamous forest court. As you can see in the above picture, it's pretty horrendous. I had a hard time getting used to it in person. It's distracting. But, I guess maybe that gives the Ducks some sort of a home court advantage? At any rate, I ended up seeing an exhibition game against Northwest Christian University (yes, I paid money to see an exhibition game... sorry, Brian!). Here's an analogy that I think works -- LeMoyne:Syracuse::NCU:Oregon. They're a small, private, Christian school in Eugene. But unlike the SU/LeMoyne debacle from several years ago, the Ducks had the upper hand in this exhibition. They have a couple decent shooters, but I don't see them making any big waves in the PAC-12. Could they be a Tourney team? Sure, it's possible. Let's wait till March, though.

The Ducks play in Matthew Knight Arena right on campus, which is a nice little gym that seats just over 12,000. I thought it was actually a much nicer facility than Autzen Stadium, which could use some structural and concessions upgrades. And maybe change the seating around so there's no obstructed view seats. Anyway, I'd recommend checking out both venues if you're ever in Eugene.

Nike connection
When you think of the University of Oregon, if you don't immediately think of the mascot modeled after Donald Duck (with Walt Disney's permission), then you surely think of Nike. Nike is the school's biggest asset, and it's a great relationship. I'll say this, though: what Nike tries -- and fails -- with Syracuse, it seems to do really well for Oregon. The Oregon uniform designs and color schemes aren't always home runs, but compared to the crap Nike gives Syracuse, I guess it pays to be the school located in Eugene. But, knowing that Nike actually has the ability to get it right, I hold out some hope for Syracuse's threads in the future.

Okay, thanks for humoring me for a somewhat non-Syracuse related post. We'll return to your regular chronicles of the disasters of Syracuse Athletics shortly.


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