And just like that, Duck tears have all but washed away. After a dominant win tonight against Utah, Oregon and their fans watched their previous top-of-the-Pac foe, USC, knock Stanford off of it’s 9 day pedestal, putting the Ducks back in charge of their own destiny. Can I get a Whoop Whoop?? Oops, I mean an OOOOOOOOOOOOOO!? Duck Nation is thankfully smiling once again.
With the top four teams going unbeaten this week, Oregon is likely to move to #5 in the BCS. Should the Ducks win out, they will host the Pac-12 Championship, likely against the South Division leader, Arizona State, which by the way is looking pretty good. All this means is there is much more football to play and plenty of opportunity to jump back in the BCS title game discussion. Sure, the Ducks will need some help but if you watched Alabama struggle tonight against a non-ranked Mississippi State, there’s definitely some hope. And hey! A Rose Bowl match-up against an opponent like say, Ohio State, wouldn’t be a bad goal either.
And then there’s the Mariota Heisman campaign. Of course his status as the front runner has been compromised, courtesy of Stanford and a fickle sports commentary, but with tonight’s turn of events, he should end up with a couple of big opportunities to regain the love of the voters. I mean what’s not to love? The kid has already led his team to 9 wins this season, without throwing a single interception. And that’s just one of his stellar stats. Perhaps though, it isn’t just his stats that makes him so worthy of that coveted prize. It’s his humility, his stand-up character, and his over-all dedication to his team.
I’ve been fortunate to talk to and listen to Mariota over the coarse of this season and I can’t say enough about how genuine he is. Tonight though, I was nearly moved to tears in the press room following tonight’s victory (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone). When asked why he was playing through his injured knee, knowing full well the risk (presumably the chance at making lots of money in the NFL), Marcus replied as only a dedicated quarterback could,
“Because the guys in the locker room, they mean the world to me. It doesn’t matter the type of risk that’s involved. Every time you step on the field, you have the danger of this is the game that we play. Like I said, I’m not going to let my knee be an excuse. You learn to play with it-it’s part of it. You learn to play with adversity and you learn to play through some obstacles. I love those guys with all my heart in the locker room and I’m going to fight the battle until the very end with them and there’s no doubt they would have to pull me off the field before I wouldn’t play with the team. Like I said, I love those guys and I’m going to continue to do my best.”
Now if that’s not a heart of a champion, I don’t know what is.