It’s humiliating, but I recently had to ask my wife for her fingernail repair kit.
That’s because this is the time of year when alums from teams still in the hunt for a national College Football Playoff berth start chomping on those fingers like beavers on bark.
My Oregon Ducks’ Saturday late-night win over the disorganized Arizona Wildcats was expected and won’t impress the voters, although it did impress me because Oregon covered the 27.5-point spread by a lovely half- point. With the Ducks playing so many games late at night, it means the East Coast brainiacs barely know the name Justin Herbert, although he could well be the first quarterback taken in the next NFL draft.
It’s both exciting and nerve-wracking to have your team doing this well in the last month of the season. Oh, we’ve had that before at Oregon, but not for several years. In fact, we made it to the national title game twice, only to lose a squeaker to Auburn in 2011, (my wife Carol’s college … thanks for asking) and again to Ohio State in 2015.
There’s a lot of energy and anxiety that goes into rooting for and against your favorite team this time of year. For instance, on November 9, I was hoping that LSU would continue to dominate Alabama in the second half of their spotlight game. A resounding loss by the Crimson Tide would have dropped the Sabanites below Oregon, which was ranked 7th at the start of that day. But because the game was so close, and the media and poll voters have been guzzling the SEC Kool-Aid for years now, ‘Bama dropped only to the fifth position.
Of course, I was delighted that Minnesota beat Penn State that same day, as that upset moved my Ducks past the Nittany Lions into the No. 6 spot. The Gophers jumped a record nine spots to the No. 8 position with that win. That provided a blanket of warmth for the coldest state in the country, at least until last Saturday, when the Row-Your-Boaters lost to Big Ten rival Iowa.
Although every weekend is critical as we narrow down the field to the final four survivors, the Nov. 16th games failed to provide much movement. All five teams ranked above my Ducks won their games, and the only one that was even close was the Georgia win over Auburn. However, there was a lot of discussion from the talking heads about what Alabama star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s season-ending injury would do to their chances moving forward.
If you are such a devoted fan of the SEC that you have Paul Finebaum bobbleheads on the mantle in your living room, then you surely think that no matter what happens in the final month, two SEC teams belong in the playoffs. But for those of us who don’t chew tobacco or have an old John Deere tractor in the back lot and an engine block on the front porch, one SEC team is plenty.
If you detect that I have a built-in bias against the southern conference, give yourself a steaming bowl of grits. During football season I have no objectivity about those schools. I also understand that Deep South fans think everyone in Oregon is stoned out of their minds, that the women never shave under their arms, and that everything good that happens with Oregon athletics comes directly from the checkbook of Nike founder Phil Knight.
They certainly have every right to those opinions. That’s what is so great about college football, and why I prefer it by a mile over the NFL. When you grow up patronizing a certain college, and then end up earning a degree from that school, the loyalty runs pretty deep. (And I have to admit, the first girl I dated at Oregon had a mustache that would rival Gardner Minshew’s
Every time Carol hears some cross-eyed ‘Baman drawling “Rolllll Tiiide,” she grabs the Pepto Bismol. It’s so bad that when we adopted a puppy and I suggested we name it Bear, I got the iciest stare since Admiral Peary found the North Pole.
So I wish all our readers success with their chosen college teams in the coming weeks. As long as your school doesn’t get in the way of Oregon’s quest for a national championship, know that I’m on your side. That’s as objective as I can be amidst all this madness.