Ducks land at No. 1 in ‘Misery Index’ following vintage loss to Stanford in OT

·3 min read

Going into Oregon’s Week 5 game against the Stanford Cardinal, we were prepared for the eventual outcome. Had you told any Duck fan that the team would fall behind by 10 points in the first half, and then eventually come back to take the lead, only to throw away the game in overtime, it’s not likely that you would have gotten much pushback.

That game script — starting slow and digging a hole before eventually getting things clicking in the second half —meshes perfectly with the heartbreaking history that often comes when playing Stanford. As it stands, this is the 5th time in the past 20 years that a top-10 ranked Oregon team has lost to Stanford. The fact that the Ducks lost to Stanford as the No. 3 team in the nation and an 8-point favorite doesn’t feel like a shock to anyone who has paid attention to this team. How they lost, though, was unexpected.

We all know what happened. A 7-point lead was blown on the last drive of the game thanks to the cohesion of terrible defense, terrible officiating, and years of bad juju. Time and again over the past decade, Oregon has been in a perfect position to make a postseason run, ranked highly going into the second half of the year. Time and again, they drop a winnable game against an inferior opponent.

It is for this reason that USA Today’s Dan Wolken listed the Ducks at No. 1 in his weekly ‘Misery Index’ column. Here’s a bit of what he had to say:

Everyone in college football can have a bad week, but the programs that contend for titles usually find a way to overcome it. That’s what Oregon should have done, especially given how good this team looked a few weeks ago when it beat Ohio State in Columbus. And when Oregon scored the go-ahead touchdown with 9:32 left Saturday to finally take the lead on Stanford, it appeared that’s exactly what the Ducks were going to do.

In fact, when Oregon had a first down at Stanford’s 39-yard line with 2:21 left, the game should have effectively been over. But two false start penalties and an incomplete pass gave the Cardinal a chance to get the ball back, and a pair of personal foul penalties gifted them 30 yards of field position.

The second one — a roughing the passer call — was undoubtedly questionable. And the defensive holding penalty on the final play of regulation that gave the Cardinal one more shot at the end zone from the 2-yard line wasn’t so great, either. If those flags end up costing the Pac-12 a Playoff berth, it’ll be one of the worst own-goals in the history of a league that specializes in own-goals.

Still, that’s what can happen when you don’t show up for a half and fall behind 17-7 and your players don’t execute down the stretch. Oregon can blame the refs or the league office for this loss, but at the end of the day, the Ducks had plenty of chances and just didn’t get the job done. That’s why Oregon is No. 1 in this week’s Misery Index, a weekly measurement of knee-jerk reactions based on what each fan base just watched.

The Oregon season isn’t over just yet. They still have an outside chance of getting into the College Football Playoff should they run the table from here on out and get a couple of breaks along the way. However, the feeling of waking up was all too familiar for Duck fans on Sunday.

There was a well-known feeling of misery, and it could have ultimately been avoided on Saturday, which makes it that much worse.