For a football fan, the day before your favorite team, whether college or pro, plays for a championship is excruciating. Anxiety runs through your veins. You just want the day to end as soon as possible.
The day of the big game is Christmas. The game is the present. It’s a present unwrapped over the course of three and a half hours and countless commercial breaks, and may ultimately end in disappointment rather than joy. There are no refunds, no exchange policies. Buy the ticket, take the ride, as Hunter Thompson often wrote.
The mood in Portland today, on the eve of Oregon’s BCS National Title Game appearance against Auburn, is one of nervous anticipation. The sky is filled with thick, navy blue clouds, and the forecast calls for snow tonight. The city’s eternally crappy winter weather doesn’t take a break for championship games.
There is a sense of disbelief among some people I’ve spoken with. They can’t believe Oregon finally made the big game and the game is almost 24 hours away.
I would attribute the second part of the last sentence to a month passing since Oregon defeated Oregon State in the annual Civil War to earn a place in the BCS title game. The first part is related to Oregon having never won a national title in football.
Louisiana football fans know what it feels like to have a knot in their gut while waiting for a championship event, particularly one a long time in the making.
For decades, the New Orleans Saints were thought to be a cursed franchise, not to mention a laughingstock across the NFL, making last year’s Super Bowl run unexpected and incredibly gratifying. That the Super Bowl win came fewer than five years after Hurricane Katrina left the city reeling made it even more special for city and area residents.
Earlier in the decade, LSU’s football team broke a 45-year national title drought with BCS titles in 2003 and 2007, after previously winning in 1958. I love telling Pacific Northwest people about LSU’s titles; they hate hearing about them. It’s good times.
I’d rank the Saints’ Super Bowl win above LSU’s titles because I was in New Orleans when they won and the scene afterward was simultaneously pandemonium and bliss. I jumped on several cars that night, some of which were moving. Hooliganism lives in south Louisiana. Fun times.
Oregon’s football team provided its fans numerous moments of joy during its virtuoso 2010 campaign. But Monday night’s game is something else entirely. If the Ducks win, a weightless euphoria will sweep over their fans.
It’s a feeling that is overwhelming in its intensity, and one whose staying power is hard to explain. For months after the Saints’ Super Bowl win, whenever I thought back about the game and the subsequent celebration, I got misty-eyed. Totally irrational, I know.
I’m excited for my friends in Portland to have the opportunity to witness their team play for a championship. It doesn’t happen often. It’s something to savor.
I rushed the field, along with thousands of Oregon fans, as the seconds ticked down on the Ducks’ win over Oregon State in early December. It was a crazy, exhilirating scene.
I can only imagine what the streets of Portland will be like following Oregon’s first national title Monday night. I can’t hardly wait to find out.