Change of fortune for this Oregon football fan

I want to change gears for just a moment and talk a little college football.

If you’ve grown up in a state where college football once became a punch line, then you can be forgiven if you want to gloat a little over the past several seasons.

The University of Oregon and Oregon State University — the state’s two Division I football schools — have produced some pretty good teams in the past decade-plus. The Oregon Ducks currently stand as the No. 2-ranked team in the nation behind Alabama. Oregon State’s Beavers lost their first game of the year, but since have reeled off three straight wins.

The Ducks have two stern tests coming up. They’re both on the road. One is in Seattle against the Washington Huskies. The other is in Palo Alto, Calif., against Stanford. Yes, they’ll have their final game of the year, against Oregon State, in the annual “Civil War” contest. But the UW and Stanford games loom as the big hurdles to the Ducks finding their way into the college football championship game.

Why is this important to me? I grew up in Oregon. I didn’t attend either school. I enrolled at Portland State University, but I have followed the Beavers and Ducks through mostly dismal seasons during my years in Oregon. Their nadir occurred in 1983 when the Ducks and Beavers played to a 0-0 tie in the rain and mud.

We left Oregon in 1984, but my keen interest has remained.

I’ve suffered with both programs through miserable seasons. This year — and many recent seasons before this year — have been quite different.

Take the Ducks’ rivalry with Washington, one of the oldest in the nation. The Huskies used to beat up badly on the Ducks. UO fans hated the Huskies. The rivalry meant much more to Duck fans than it did to Huskies fans. The tables have turned. The Huskies hate the Ducks. Why? Because the Ducks have been putting some serious whuppins on the Huskies.

Cry me a river, Huskies.

Oregon is 4-0. The Ducks have won every game by more than 40 points. I am acutely aware that they cannot possibly play the entire year in such grand fashion. The Beavers, too, are playing well enough to deserve this native Oregonian’s good wishes … and I hope Coach Mike Riley stays put and does not succumb to the temptation to head south to coach another hated rival, the University of Spoiled Children, er, Southern California.

Winning can be addictive. I’ve caught the bug. Don’t cure me … ever.

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