September 23, 2011
- Overall record on this date: 5-4.. Home record 4-3.
- 2005: Oregon dominated early, building a 13-0 lead but squandering opportunities for a bigger margin, then watched helplessly as Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Lendale White led the Trojans to 45 unanswered points – including five second half TDs – and the Ducks fell 45-13 at Autzen Stadium. USC outgained the Ducks 593-262 and limited Oregon to just 104 second-half yards. The largest crowd in the history of Autzen (59129) saw Oregon QB Kellen Clemens hammered repeatedly in the second half. The win – later vacated by USC after the Reggie Bush scandal — was USC’s 25th straight, tying school and Pac-10 records. It was Oregon’s only loss during the regular season.
- 1994: Senior QB Danny O’Neil spent all night Friday at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene being treated for an infected finger on his right hand. Intravenous antibiotics were being administered every four hours in an attempt to counter the infection. After receiving his last dose of meds at 7am, he was released though far from healed, and went straight to Autzen for breakfast with his team, who knew nothing of his injury. He later took advantage of a conservative game plan tailored by offensive coordinator Mike Bellotti to go easy on his throwing hand and lead the Ducks to a 40-18 win over Iowa. O’Neil only completed 7 of 17 passes for 74 yards, and the Ducks were outgained 421-279 but benefitted from four Iowa turnovers; Oregon started four possessions in Hawkeye territory in the first half, and scored touchdowns every time. After the game O’Neil passed up post-game celebrating to return to Sacred Heart to have his pinky finger drained. The win snapped a five-game losing streak against 1A competition, dating back to 1993, and the Ducks eventually won the conference and the 1995 Rose Bowl bid.
- 1988: Oregon FB Latin Berry scored the game’s only touchdown as the Ducks downed Stanford 7-3 in Autzen to remain undefeated. Rich Brooks quipped: “It was a great defensive game, if you’re into those kind of things.” His team had averaged 46 points over the first two games that season. Fans had to sweat out the 4th quarter as star QB Bill Musgrave injured his ankle late in the 3rd and did not return to the field after Berry’s three-yard plunge; Pete Nelson came in at quarterback and spent the last quarter handing the ball to Berry and Derek Loville. Xrays of Musgrave’s ankle indicated a bad sprain, and he sat out a game. The critical injury to Oregon’s greatest ginger signal caller came against Arizona State three weeks later, when a broken collarbone ruined everyone’s season.
- 1983: The two-touchdown-underdog Ducks, coming off dismal efforts at home against Pacific and at Ohio State, knocked off Houston 15-14 at Autzen. The winning score came after an improbably series of events: Oregon QB Mike Jorgenson, facing 3rd and 9 from the Houston 43, hit flanker Lew Barnes over the middle for a first down. But Barnes fumbled the ball at the 25. Tailback Kevin McCall attempted to dive on the fumble but he was simultaneously hit by a Houston defender, and the ball squirted straight towards the goal line, and tight end Doug Herman finally corralled the elusive prolate spheroid at the Houston 2. After a holding penalty on Houston, McCall took it in from the 1. The win was one of few bright spots in 1983 for the Ducks, who wound up 4-6-1, the tie being the infamous 0-0 “Toilet Bowl” Civil War.
- 1977: In the first home game for Rich Brooks as Oregon coach, the Ducks drew an optimistic crowd of over 30,000 couldn’t muster enough energy on offense to offset a punishing ground game by Wisconsin, and the Badgers stymied Oregon 22-10 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. Wisconsin held the ball for the last 6:25 of the contest before topping off an 80-yard, 16 play drive with a one-yard TD run by Mike Morgan, after Roy Geiger had pulled the home team within five points with a field goal. “We counted on getting the ball back to go for the win,” Brooks responded to questioning about his decision not to go for it on fourth-and-six from the Badger 12. Wisconsin gashed the thin Oregon line for 291 yards on 61 carries. The loss was the first of eight straight for the young Ducks and their new head coach; their second win would come courtesy of Oregon State in the season finale.
- 1966: Len Casanova’s last home opener as Oregon head coach, and the beginning of the last season at Hayward Field, was a letdown. The underdog Utah Redskins, predicted to finish last in the WAC and ten point underdogs, instead stunned the Ducks 17-14 behind halfback Ben Woodson and safety-turned-QB Jack Gehrke. Woodson’s fumble of the opening kickoff led to Oregon’s first touchdown, but the senior bounced back with a 30-yard TD run in the 2nd quarter that gave Utah its first lead. Gehrke scored the winning points on a short run in the 3rd quarter. Both of Oregon’s scores came on passes to tight end Steve Reina. It had been 14 years since Oregon lost its first two games in a season.
- 1960: Oregon put forth a pathetic effort in Ann Arbor, losing 21-0 to Michigan, and it wasn’t that close. Casanova summed it up: “That’s the worst football game we’ve played in a long time. We didn’t have any life, and we didn’t do anything right.” The Ducks only ran 51 plays, only crossed midfield once – on a Mickey Bruce interception at the Michigan 37 – and fumbled the ball away on the next play, and never ran more than five plays before punting. Oregon lost four starters to injuries including FB Bruce Snyder, end Paul Bauge, tackle Riley Mattson and guard Dave Urell. Oregon eked out 135 yards of offense, averaged barely two yards a carry and punted nine times. Line coach Jerry Frei: “We were even lousy in the warmup.” Only Mickey Bruce could have been happy about his play in this game; he looked impressive for a guy who the night before had been offered money by gamblers to help Michigan beat the point spread. The bad guys shouldn’t have bothered. The Ducks rebounded to finish the year 7-2, earning a Liberty Bowl bid in 1960 as a “Western Independent” following the implosion of the PCC.
- 1949: The Ducks since late 1947 had played like a runaway train, and a 41-0 romp over Idaho at Hayward Field gave no indication that the steamer was about to jump the tracks. The Vandals, coming off a 79-0 pummeling of Willamette in the season opener, only saw the Oregon side of the field once, on their first drive that stalled at the Duck 24, leading to a bizarre sequence of three turnovers in three plays. Quick-kicked back to their 7, Idaho fumbled; the ball was recovered on the Idaho 6 by Webfoots end Ray Lung. George Bell fumbled it right back on the Vandal 2; on the next play, Idaho’s QB fumbled again and Lung recovered again. Bell atoned for his mishap by diving in for the only score the Ducks would need. It was Oregon’s 17th win in its last 19 games and the ninth straight regular-season victory, and was witnessed by 18,300 fans, a Hayward Field record. Bob Sanders ran for 122 yards on 14 carries and scored three TDs, Oregon outgained the Vandals 390-176, and the Ducks were thinking Rose Bowl. A loss the next week at UCLA put a damper on those thoughts. They finished the 1949 campaign with five straight losses, and a win over Washington State in October would be Aiken’s last conference victory; he was sacked after the 1950 season.
- 1938: Every new head coach gets to change up the team’s uniform, and Tex Oliver went over the top with his new Ducks livery. A visiting team that runs onto the field wearing “canary yellow jerseys with green strips, gold pants with a green stripe, green and gold stockings and yellow and green helmets,” as described by one reporter, is going to get someone’s attention. Oregon had raided Arizona for a new head coach, bringing in Oliver, a West Point graduate and defensive mastermind, and the results were immediate and refreshing. The Webfoots knocked off Washington State in Pullman 10-2, employing a scheme on defense known as the “Oliver Twist”, essentially a 6-2-2-1 alignment with the linebackers and safeties playing a box formation that shifted with the play. The defense held the Cougars in check, but a hilarious miscue, and no particular effort by WSC, prevented a shutout: As the first half was ending, Oregon halfback Bob Smith intercepted a pass by WSC QB Paul Callow on the Oregon two yard line. Inexplicably, Smith stepped backwards into the end zone and downed the ball as the gun fired signaling the end of the half. Safety. The astonished crowed roared hoots of derision and laughter; Smith, realizing the error of his ways, began tearing his hair out in pantomime. “He thought he was behind the goal line when he caught the ball,” Oliver explained after the game, “so it wasn’t the bonehead play it looked like. Just one of those things.” The ‘38 Ducks ended the season a disappointing 4-5. Oliver coached the Webfoots for six seasons, and never had a winning record.