This is what it has come to for the once-mighty Oregon Ducks. A season after having the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and an undefeated run fall one win shy of the first national championship in school history, Oregon was reduced to having to tie lowly Washington State in double overtime just for a chance to move into a third overtime on its home field. The final play was picked off and Oregon slumped to 3-3. Things may not get much easier for Oregon either, and the Ducks all of a sudden could join some rather unfortunate company as a result.
Since the dawn of the BCS Championship Game, the Texas Longhorns are the only school to have played for a national championship one season and completely miss the postseason the next. Texas played Alabama at the end of the 2009 season in the Rose Bowl for the BCS national championship and then missed the postseason in 2010 with a 5-7 record. Right now, Oregon is staring down a similar fate even with an expanded national championship and postseason playing field. No, head coach Mark Helfrich is not on any sort of hot seat, and this is hardly a suggestion that Oregon has lost a seat at the grown-ups table. This is merely a down year, as even the best college football programs are known to have from time to time.
Here’s the situation for Oregon. The Ducks need to win three more games just to become bowl eligible. Sounds simple enough, right? Well actually…
Considering how Oregon has been playing, are there three games in there you expect Oregon to win? Arizona State is known to come up small in a big game at home (UCLA last year, USC this year), but going to Tempe can be tricky. Cal, despite sloppy play at Utah, has shown to be a dangerous team. Stanford may be the best team in the Pac-12 right now and has a history of flexing some muscle against the Ducks. USC may be a toss-up game because Steve Sarkisian cannot win a big game, and you never know what to expect in The Civil War and Oregon State is due for a win (last win was in 2007).
Oregon has not missed the postseason since 2004 and has gone to a bowl game all but that one season since 1997. If Oregon does not get things fixed on defense, these Ducks could be staying home for the winter.