We aren’t asking you to beat the Ducks, but don’t lie down and play dead. We’re starving for a good, punch-for-punch game between two elite teams after three straight weeks saw marquee matchups filled up with hype burst like bubbles.
Yes, there have been good games this season, but it seems like when two elite teams meet recently, one of them takes complete control – and we end up with scores like 51-14, 42-14, and 41-14.
And Florida State can be blamed for the start – and the majority – of our recent woes.
The Seminoles’ visit to Clemson was built up as the Tigers’ big moment to make amends for a history of “Clemsoning,” a golden opportunity to shock the college football world with a win over the then 5th-ranked Seminoles.
Remember the days when Clemson was ranked third and people – well, some people – thought Tajh Boyd could outperform Jameis Winston? By the end of the game, and possibly even by the end of the first half, not even the bravest soul dared to utter such nonsense. The final score inflated to 51-14 with Famous Jameis contributing three touchdowns with his arm and another with his legs, while Boyd became an afterthought in the Heisman Trophy race.
The following week’s marquee game could have been billed as a much more intriguing matchup had UCLA not put forth an anemic 10-point offensive effort against Stanford. Still, the 12th-ranked Bruins’ visit to No. 3 Oregon was the best we had, and we, the fans, were prepared to make due.
Optimistically, and perhaps a bit naively, we convinced ourselves that Brett Hundley could actually keep pace with Marcus Mariota. What gave us such an idea? It certainly wasn’t Hundley’s performance versus Stanford, in which he produced a 1:2 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions. Still, we hoped for the best as we turned on our TVs to watch the Bruins take on the Ducks.
The game delivered in the first half, as the teams entered intermission tied at 14. But then a completely different UCLA team apparently emerged from the locker room. The Ducks took complete control over the final two quarters en route to a 42-14 victory on the heels of running back Byron Marshall’s three touchdowns. But, hey, at least we got halfway there: the first 30 minutes featured the kind of call-and-response action you’d desire from two top teams.
Then there was last week. With Alabama and Oregon on byes, Florida State returned to the spotlight to disappoint us all again. Not because Famous Jameis and the ‘Noles played poorly, mind you. In fact, it was because of just the opposite. Florida State appeared unstoppable as the game progressed, resulting in another lopsided victory and winning by three touchdowns over Miami.
Seminole running backs Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, perhaps fueled by having their team placed behind Oregon at #3 in the AP poll, ran for two touchdowns each. In the end, the Hurricanes fell easy – both in the game and in the rankings – as Florida State showed just how much of a difference a few seedings makes this season.
But the game was another step in the wrong direction for fans desiring to see a close contest between two elite teams — one that came down to a final touchdown drive or an anxiety-stricken field goal attempt.
The matchups we’ve been left with in the meantime haven’t been terrible – not in the least. We’ve been nursed along by Auburn’s four-point victory over Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in Week 8, Oklahoma’s great escape from a desperate Texas Tech team seeing it’s perfect season slip away in Week 9, not to mention UCF’s 38-35 upset over Louisville in a Friday night game many probably weren’t even aware was being played. Good games? Definitely. But did they have the potential Thursday night’s game has? Not even close.
Which brings us to Week 11’s mantra: keep it close, Cardinal, because we, the fans, really need a change of precedent. The games that have been built up so tall in the past few weeks have done little but let us down and show us how steep the climb is to the very top of the college football rankings.
But let’s take a moment – against better judgment – to build this one up anyway.
The third-ranked Ducks visit the fifth-ranked Cardinal on the Farm. The high-flying Oregon offense led by Mariota has experienced nothing resounding success this season, but the Ducks face a fifth-ranked Cardinal squad that knows all too well the stinging feeling of being on the short end of an upset (they have Utah to thank for handing them that bitter pill).
Stanford has fired off two wins since losing to the Utes, but nothing would uplift Cardinal spirits and strengthen their chances of winning the Pac-12 more than a win on Thursday night.
Do objective fans expect Stanford to take down the Ducks? Maybe not. But the Cardinal did defeat Oregon in last season’s meeting between the conference rivals.
Still, all we ask for as fans is a nail-biting, drama-filled contest – one that doesn’t end with 27 points separating the two teams. And is that too much to ask for a Week 11 game featuring top five teams?
So come on, Stanford. We, the fans, need this one. Keep us on the edges of our seats.
The backrests of our chairs have become way too cozy over the past three weeks.