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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Ducks fly first class at No. 1

Ducks v. Arizona. 48-29
Ducks v. Arizona. 48-29

EUGENE, Ore. — Spend a few hours in Autzen Stadium and you’ll know exactly why Oregon is the nation’s best team.  

Spend a few minutes listening to Chip Kelly and his team address the media and it will be clear why the Ducks remain undefeated through 11 games.

Spend an hour or two in the sea of green and yellow that characterizes Eugene, Ore., and you’ll understand that Oregon football isn’t just entertainment — it’s a way of life.

Sure, dual-threat quarterback Darron Thomas and Heisman-caliber running back LaMichael James are a huge reason for the Ducks’ national championship hopes, but Oregon’s greatness goes far beyond its two-headed offensive monster.

Everything about the No. 1 Ducks exemplifies greatness.

Autzen Stadium is arguably the most electric atmosphere in all of the Pacific 10 Conference.

Between the crisp field and bowl-style seating, Autzen is truly the Rolls Royce of college stadiums.

But the earth-shattering atmosphere starts and ends with Oregon’s die-hard fans.

At Arizona Stadium, it’s customary to see half of ZonaZoo heading toward the exits by halftime of a tie ball game.

But not at Autzen.

With the Ducks up 48-29 and minutes remaining, almost all of the 59,990 fans remained — standing and cheering.

“”This place is special,”” Kelly said. “”It’s special. It’s just a special place.””

In less than 40-degree weather featuring light showers, several Oregon fans stood shirtless cheering at the top of their lungs.

The Ducks’ die-hards would send chants of “”Go, Ducks! Go, Ducks!”” ringing through the entire stadium in unison. It’s impossible not to succeed in such a setting.

“”It fuels us a lot if we’re on (empty),”” said freshman Josh Huff, who broke out an 85-yard touchdown run Friday. “”We’re driving a diesel truck and if we’re on (empty), we won’t go, but once we get to half and full we’re in high gear.””

From the faux ducks lining the Eugene Airport to the “”O”” shaped cookies in the press box, this city lives and breathes Ducks football.

The atmosphere is second to none, but it’s Kelly’s philosophy that has this team at the top of the college football totem pole.

You can’t walk 15 feet without seeing the letters WTD plastered on the walls of Autzen Stadium. It’s not an ad or a local food chain, but rather the mantra Kelly and his Ducks live by — Win The Day.

Oregon’s been the national media’s puppet all season long as every analyst and their mother have drooled over the Ducks’ high-octane offense.

But despite the national buzz and No. 1 ranking, an even-keel Kelly clips the wings of his Ducks and keeps them grounded.

After spending a half an hour in Oregon’s press room after its win over Arizona, you would have no idea the Ducks clinched a Pac-10 title and remained one win from a shot at a national championship.

When asked if it’s hard to contain his excitement, Kelly said with a stern face, “”I’m giddy right now, can’t you tell?””

“”I don’t feel any different to be honest with you,”” he added. “”We don’t talk about that, never have. That’s not what this team’s all about. I have never once talked about the ranking of this football team, and I don’t have to.””

That omission is all part of the Ducks’ master plan — Win The Day.

“”We’ve got a formula that, our players have a tremendous belief in it,”” he said. “”We’d be crazy to go away from it now.””

Senior receiver DJ Davis said the No. 1 ranking “”doesn’t matter to us,”” and the nation’s top running back James set the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season on Friday and didn’t even know it.

There’s a reason the 2010 Ducks have scored more points than any other Oregon team in school history with still two games left to play.  

There’s a reason their unorthodox style and wacky play-calling works wonders week in and week out.

There’s a reason the Ducks erased a 19-14 Arizona halftime lead in a matter of minutes.

Autzen Stadium rattles brains, while the Ducks buy into Kelly’s strategy.

Just “”Win the Day,”” and everything will take care of itself.

The Ducks have won 11 days, and a national championship game is looming.

Soon enough, they’ll be able to talk about it.

— Mike Schmitz is a marketing junior. He can be reached at

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