Saturday tailgate: Oregon Ducks
September, 13, 2013
By Ted Miller | ESPN.com
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesAutzen Stadium is home to one of the most exciting teams -- and loudest crowds -- in college football.
The Northwest is known for rain, particularly in the late fall and winter. But Oregon Ducks fans will tell you that "It never rains in Autzen Stadium." At least that's what PA announcer Don Essig bellows before every Ducks game, whether it's raining at the moment or not.
What's special about the gameday experience at Autzen? Well, start with the team that plays inside. It has been college football's ninth-winningest program over the past decade, ahead of such traditional powers as Georgia, Alabama and Nebraska.
The run of success truly began in 1994, when Kenny Wheaton's 97-yard interception return -- "The pick" -- keyed a critical win over Washington and a Rose Bowl berth. Since then, the program has climbed gradually. And then suddenly.
Moreover, the Ducks have style, and not just sartorially so, though one needs a calculator to compute the number of their myriad potential uniform combinations. Once they don their, er, often unusual duds, they then run the nation's most feared offense, an up-tempo spread-option that kills with its pace, speed and creativity.
Don't forget the Ducks underrated defense. It has become one of the nation's best units under coordinator Nick Allotti, and it gets a big assist from one of the nation's loudest fan bases. Is Autzen Stadium the nation's loudest sports venue? You could reasonably make that argument. When the Duck mascot jumps onto his motorcycle to lead the team onto the field, the place booms with anticipation. It then gets even louder when an opposing offense faces a big third-down play.
Forget about talking to your neighbor, no matter what foe is on hand. The Ducks have sold out every home game since 1999, that 83-game run being the fourth-best in the country.
If you look closely, you might get to see the Ducks first fan, Nike founder Phil Knight. His donations have made Oregon a national leader when it comes to football facilities, his most recent contribution funding the construction of the palatial 145,000 square-foot football building, perhaps the most luxurious and high tech facility of its kind in the country.
Walking around Autzen Stadium before the game, enjoying the spirited tailgate and the woodsy surroundings of the town of Eugene, then taking in the extravagant facilities that house and nurture the program, it all combines to produce a great game day experience. And a lot of victories.
Best Pac-12 Position Group in 2014 Class
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35