Saturday, October 28, 2023

Good Luck Ducks, Week 9: Ute Talkin' to Me?

Your eighth ranked Ducks hit the road again to tackle a familiar ranked foe. 
Oregon bounced back last week from a really tough-to-stomach road loss by winning in relevantly uneventful fashion against the Washington State Cougars, one of the two surviving members of the Pac-12(er 2) Conference. Nearly everyone in the conference is really good this season, which makes the rest of the Ducks schedule quite the minefield. Even the two weaker opponents left to go (Cal, ASU) seem like potential trap games at the very least, and home games against USC (ehhh) and the last ever (?) Civil War meeting with the Beavers are still lurking. And yet, today's game at Utah could be the biggest one.

The Utes are eyeing their third straight conference title, a position that Oregon has frequently been in especially since the conference expanded to twelve teams over a decade ago. While the Ducks squeaked out a victory last season, there has to be a little something extra in this meeting as they attempt to take the title for the last time.

Despite today's game being a road game for Oregon, they are nearly a touchdown favorite over a team ranked just 5 spots below. It goes to show that the polls, especially at this point in the season, are not nearly as big of an indicator as to how a team's overall abilities are perceived as it might seem. The people with the money on the line definitely feel that Oregon is a clear notch above Utah this season on any given Saturday.

Notes and other things: 
  • Utah will be without Cam Rising, a Ducks nemesis of the past, under center. Rising was playing with an injured knee and struggled against the Ducks last season, before tearing multiple ligaments in said knee in the Rose Bowl. His status was fairly murky for most of this season until he was recently declared out for the season.
  • Where Are They Headed? The Utes are headed to the Big 12 next season, their third conference since 2010, where they will compete with such luminaries as Texas Tech and Central Florida.
  • Ducks Ranking This Week: 8 (AP). We're still a few days away from the first CFP ranking this season, the only thing that actually matters. Is Condoleezza Rice still on the committee?
  • Bo Nix Heisman Watch: It doesn't seem like he's in the top 3 or maybe even 5 anymore, but at least no one is calling him "Bo Pix" anymore. It's almost like there's a higher profile dude with an even funnier name in contention.
  • Game time is 12:30 PDT on FOX in Salt Lake City. Go Ducks!

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Good Luck Ducks, Week 8: Picking Up the Pieces


Oregon hosts the other Washington team after a tough loss. 
The toughest thing about college football, at least in its current format, is that the thing you strive for is so remotely possible that it's probably hard to accept what all of your coaches are telling you about that ultimate prize. At the highest level, there are about a dozen teams - times ten(!) - all competing for four spots in the current format. In any given year, there's maybe a couple of dozen teams that even stand a chance at making the playoffs, and by this point in the season that number of possibilities has certainly been whittled down to single digits already.

With a loss last week in Seattle by a razor-thin margin, the Ducks dropped just one spot in the polls, but they fell a whole lot more in terms of prospects to have a chance to compete for the ultimate prize. The timing is rough for this team as it's led by an outstanding experienced quarterback in Bo Nix, a deep backfield and talented spread far and wide around the roster. If this collection of players were playing by next year's rules (Big Ten schedule aside), the playoff chances wouldn't look so bleak as the plan is to expand from four to twelve teams. Instead, an excellent Oregon team felled by a questionable play call and, sure, a missed field goal more than likely ends up sidelined during the biggest games in January.

I'll say one thing about the otherwise entertaining if not totally gripping game against the dreaded Huskies last week. I wasn't wild about the call to go for it on 4th down with just a couple of minutes left to play, but my main issue wasn't keeping the offense on the field. The play that was called on the field was just inexplicable, at least to the eyes of this fan on the edge of his coach. I understand why Dan Lanning wanted to go for it (doesn't he always?), but especially in the situation where a gained first down guaranteed victory. I just don't understand what they were doing once they snapped the ball.

In any case, it's the Cougars this week. And they're not bad this year! Today's game is certainly a candidate for whatever the equivalent of a trap game is, where instead of the favored team being caught overlooking their current opponent for a bigger game on the horizon, it gets stuck thinking about the possibilities of the previous week and essentially loses twice. Did that last sentence make any sense? I'm not sure... you just don't want your rival to beat you twice!

Notes and other things:
  • A palate cleanser, maybe? The Ducks are finally wearing throwbacks. And they are fantastic.
  • Where Are They Headed? The Cougs are united with the Oregon State Beavers as the Last Two Standing, and they are suing the crap out of the other Pac-12 schools in order to secure their own financial viability and decision making control to get themselves out of the mess that they're in currently. I fully support this.
  • Ducks Ranking This Week: 9 (AP). They dropped one spot but it felt like one hundred.
  • Bo Nix Heisman Watch: His candidacy took a similar hit that the Ducks overall season hopes took, even if the stats didn't change remarkably.
  • Game time is 12:30 PDT on ABC in Eugene. Go Ducks!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Good Luck Ducks, Week 7: Fuskies

It's number 7 versus number 8 in a game that's received increased national attention. 
The Oregon/Washington rivalry is an interesting one in that it's usually been lopsided. Of course, there were the early days where Washington's national stature and outsized resources made the series more of a David vs. Goliath style matchup, which made the Kenny Wheaton game all the more satisfying for an up and coming Ducks program. Later, there were many, many consecutive years (Huskies fans, tell me how many!) where Washington suffered defeat at the hands of Mighty Oregon. And then, of course, Justin Herbert's first start came at the wrong end of a 70-to-something beatdown. It feels fairly rare when these teams have met on even ground, but that's apparently where we find things this afternoon in Seattle.

Another interesting aspect to this game and the series as a whole is that the two schools enter the B1G next year, hand in hand, as they are locked in to playing each other every year at the end of their respective schedules. Gone are the Civil War game (I still call it that) and the Apple Cup. In place is the big Oregon/Washington showdown, a fairly nasty rivalry without a name or a lengthy list of close games. I don't think it's the worst option going forward in the new, even more money grubbing college football future, but it doesn't really matter what I think anyway.

Bo Nix and Michael Something Jr. are two big time QBs in a conference (for now) stocked well with big time QBs. It's as if the Pac-12 conference ("Conference of Champions!" -- Bill Walton) gods decided to assemble this talented group specifically for its last hurrah. Of course, both sides are well-stocked with talent beyond the guys taking the snaps, as you would expect for teams ranked so high. This could all prove to be a very close, nail-biting affair, but if it holds true to the series as a whole, it could very well be a giant victory for one of these schools.

Notes and other things:
  • I normally put a lot of stock in teams heading into a tough game after a bye week, but it turns out that Washington also had last week off. Another thing to consider: I am not into gambling at all, so I wouldn't take my predictions with any morsel of seriousness.
  • Where Are They Headed? Well, we covered this already, but the B1G awaits Washington, bonded in football life with their webfooted bros. Ew.
  • Ducks Ranking This Week: 8 (AP). They moved up one spot heading into the bye week, and then held their position after Texas and Oklahoma sort of flip-flopped.
  • Bo Nix Heisman Watch: Much as the teams themselves, the winner of this game likely takes a sizeable lead in the Heisman race. There are a bunch of other candidates out there, however, including some other transfer dude in the Pac-12.
  • Game time is 12:30 PDT on ABC in Seattle. Go Ducks!

Thursday, October 5, 2023

The Last One


A huge group break acquisition to wrap up things here. 
With this last bit of cards from a couple of Nachos Grande box breaks, I'm finally caught up and ready to move things along... down the street, that is. I'll hopefully be back with the usual Ducks post sometime before the next football game a week from Saturday.

I usually let cards build up a bit more before I request a shipment, but there was a certain urgency to these cards that will make sense a little further down the screen here. The 2023 Panini Prizm break netted me some nice and shiny Cardinals cards including this Ice parallel of Harry Walker. If I'm not mistaken, I believe I was also randomly assigned the Rangers in this break and ended up with some Pudge Rodriguez cards for the trade boxes.

Silver Prizm cards are a bit hard to come by now that Panini figured out that people go crazy for them (well, in the NBA, at least.)

This green "scope" parallel of Tink Hence is numbered to just 75. It looks pretty nice in hand.

The biggest break (and the reason for the urgent shipment) was 2023 Topps Finest. I usually stay far away from Finest because of the cost, but I'm sure glad I didn't this time! I did get a couple of nice Cardinals, including the "rose gold" parallel of Matthew Liberatore at the top of this post, which is also numbered to just 75.

My randomly assigned team was the Baltimore Orioles, suddenly looking like the Kings of the American League these days. Adley Rutschman is my new secret player collection guy. I even kicked my musty old Mike Trout cards out of a box he shared with Shohei Ohtani to make room for Adley. The young catcher is from the Portland area and did a cool thing during the HR Derby this summer, so it wasn't tough to convince me to stash away some of his cards.

Well, this also certainly helps! I'm not one to have much luck with redemptions (who does?), but Topps really delivered the goods this time.

I spammed this picture around all of the Discord servers that I'm in weeks ago, so this probably isn't a big surprise to some of you. My first instinct is to sell anytime I come into an expensive card like this, but I might be hanging onto this one for awhile.