Start of a Duck Dynasty?
2015 not only marks a new year, but also a new era of college football. On January 1st, college football fans witnessed the first playoff in the history of the game when Oregon defeated Florida State 59-20, followed by Ohio State beating Alabama 42-35. But could it also be the start of a new college football empire?
For nearly a century, the Ducks were irrelevant in college football. In 1983, Oregon’s 0-0 tie with Oregon State was so bad, some fans dubbed it the “Toilet Bowl.” In 1989, Oregon made their first postseason appearance in 26 years after a 27-24 Independence Bowl win against Tulsa.
The wind began to shift for the Ducks after a 1995 appearance in the Rose Bowl, their first since 1958. Although Oregon would lose to Penn State 38-20, they began to spark the interest of Phil Knight, a 1959 Oregon Alum and the co-founder and chairman of Nike Inc. The following season, Mike Bellotti was named the head coach for the Ducks. After a bad 1996 Cotton Bowl loss to Colorado State, Knight approached Coach Bellotti and asked what he could do to help take his alma mater to the next level in college football.
Soon after, Knight donated $10 million to the university to ensure an indoor facility was built. Then came the flashy green and yellow uniforms that intrigued football fans to want to watch the Ducks and appealed to teenage high school recruits.
In 2010, Oregon was ranked no. 1 in the AP Poll and BCS poll for the first time in school history. The Ducks accomplished their first undefeated, 12-win season and repeated as PAC-10 Champs. In a game that was the Ducks’ to win, Oregon lost to Auburn in the 2011 National Championship game when the Tigers hit a game-winning field goal with 2 seconds left.
In 2012, one win away from the national championship game and another perfect season, the Ducks laid an egg and suffered a heart-breaking loss to a No. 13 Stanford team in overtime.
With the start of a new college football era, could this be the year Oregon sees their first football national championship trophy? The Ducks survived the first round of playoffs, while being amongst three highly decorated teams in college football. Can Oregon prove they can be one of the Alabama’s, the Ohio State’s, and the FSU’s?
This past season, Oregon witnessed their first Heisman Trophy in quarterback Marcus Mariota. Tonight, Oregon will go against a football program seeking their 8th national title, Ohio State, in the CFP National Championship Game
In seasons before, the Ducks have come short of their ultimate goal, the trophy. While this year may be no different, the Ducks are one trophy away from creating that empire they have long hoped for. Will this be their year?