Ducks prepare for Rose Bowl with so many varying emotions

Peter Socotch

"It's the Rose Bowl. That's it. That's all you gotta know. The best of the best play there and I'm excited."

Those are the words of Outland Trophy Winner Penei Sewell. 

A while the No. 6 Oregon Ducks were, in theory, just a few plays away from a possible College Football Playoff berth, the PAC-12 Champions are looking forward to the opportunity of playing in the 106th Rose Bowl vs. No. 8 Wisconsin on January 1st. 

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Along with that excitement, though, there are two other emotions: Determination and reflection. 

"We understood what we did," Senior linebacker Troy Dye said about winning the PAC-12 title game over Utah. "It was a big moment for us. We celebrated, but packed that up. We're moving on. We're extremely blessed and fortunate for the opportunity that we have to play against a great Wisconsin team in the granddaddy of them all." 

"It's such a great opportunity," Justin Herbert added. "It doesn't get any better than this. To be able to spend time here with your teammates and such a great program - I'm excited."

For this group of seniors, the Rose Bowl is a fast-approaching end date on their college football careers. It offers a chance to reflect on their time at Oregon. 

"This last week, I've really taken my time to embrace my teammates and truly relish these moments," senior offensive lineman Shane Lemeiux said. 

"Just relish the opportunities with your teammates. After I get out of here, it's not going to be the same. It's not going to be the same relationships, the same brotherhood. It's not going to be as comfortable as it is here."

Head Coach Mario Cristobal has turned this team from a barely bowl eligible team to a CFB Playoff contender. He's also changed the culture, one where each player will seemingly run through a brick wall for one another.

"I think the biggest factor we've had coming into this year that's made us a different program is just how tight-knit we are," Lemeiux added. "It's different. When you care about somebody, you play harder for somebody. You don't want to let them down. And secondly, you trust them."

The Ducks focus now is to go 1-0, knowing they'll need each players' collective effort to achieve their goal. 

Ducks prepare for Rose Bowl with so many varying emotions originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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