Originally posted on FishDuck.com:
The line between a team achieving a 12-2 dream season and an 8-5 “rebuilding year” is probably much narrower than many of us would like to admit. If the Oregon Ducks are fortunate enough to win a 4th consecutive Pac-10/12 conference crown in football this coming year, there are sure to be some close calls along the way. Arizona in ’09, Cal in ’10, USC, and even the Rose Bowl last season.
The close calls can sometimes surface as maybe a shanked field goal at the whistle, a drive-killing incomplete pass or turnover, or perhaps an actual “bad” call or overturned decision from a referee.
Although no football game is decided by a single play, look no further than the post-season fate of the Ducks the previous two seasons to find the type of plays in question that can swing a contest to the advantage of one side.
Would the Ducks have been National Champions if Michael Dyer was instead ruled down in the BCS National Championship Game instead of rumbling 39 yards to put the team into game-winning field goal range?
Or the opposite–
How many more of you out there might still be questioning Chip Kelly’s offensive “system” or ability to win big games if the fumble forced by Terrance Mitchell in the Rose Bowl had rolled out of bounds instead of sticking to the turf like it had been glued? What if Russell Wilson & co. had been given another play at the end?
The truth is that many, many teams and their fans will point to a play or series of plays here or there that jilted their season in one direction or another. Prior to the Rose Bowl, Wisconsin fans and players claimed they had only lost on “two lucky Hail Mary’s” against Michigan State and Ohio State. Were they implying the losses should be devalued because they were close? Many Oregon fans similarly discredited the USC loss because the Ducks could have forced OT had Maldenado’s best effort not hooked a few feet left.
Some would say I am an extreme Oregon Ducks “homer,” because before each game for well over two decades now I have found a way every single Saturday to convince myself that the Ducks will win; that somehow the other team really doesn’t stand a chance. I read all the stories come out online the week before the game, examine all of the stats and story lines, and in my mind always decipher a clear advantage in some way for the Ducks.
While during my lifetime of 30 years, I have been correct (224-138-2) more often than not, and certainly at a better clip in recent years, have I been right all of the time? Of course not!
But this is a part of what makes the game of football and sports in general so entertaining. Despite being supremely confident in the abilities of “my” team, I am as ritualistic as a pro baseball player on game days. I have a lucky shirt, socks, and hat combo reserved for the biggest games.
Despite being insulated, and maybe best of all, distracted by all of this excessive preparation, I still go into each contest as a ball of nervous energy. While watching each of the upcoming games this next season, I already know that I will be restless, anxious, and will likely feel the pulse thumping in my neck until I see Dustin Haines handing off to Kenny Bassett in the final minutes of a blowout win.
The simple way to describe the feeling is fear: the basic fear of failure. “We expect to win, but, holy___! What if we lose?!?” Call it the duality of fan.
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