Not like this, Oregon. Not like this.
A loss to UCLA on the road? Sure, that makes plenty of sense. Falling to Stanford for the third consecutive year? Considering recent history, no one would have argued. Losing to Arizona at home as more than a three-touchdown favorite after a bye week? Well, let’s proceed with caution before giving such nightmare scenarios realistic thought.
Or, perhaps not.
On late Thursday night—or perhaps early Friday morning is more appropriate—this became a reality. Oregon fell to Arizona 31-24 in front of a silent, confused Eugene crowd, which was the expression shared with most television viewers tuning in for an unexpected thriller.
Oregon had won 28 straight home games against unranked teams. This is their first such loss since September of 2008.
You could blame injuries, particularly along the offensive line. You could point to the play calling, which unquestionably played a role in the Ducks’ setback. You could zero in on the defense; it was gashed for the better part of the night.
You could also offer up a hearty “boo” for this Pac-12 officiating crew, if you hadn’t already, and no one would blame you.
Regardless, Oregon’s issues are far deeper than the spotlighted items above. And while the defeat could ultimately dismantle the College Football Playoff hopes for one of the nation’s biggest brands, it also provided an opening prior to the most jam-packed Saturday of the season.