Found November 18, 2012 on Fox Sports:
At the University of Nike on Saturday in overtime on national TV in primetime, the peak of this multi-billion-dollar college football business was coming down on a freshman quarterback, Marcus Mariota. He turned 19 a few weeks ago. He botched it, and then the field-goal kicker missed, too, allowing Stanford to beat No. 2 Oregon 17-14. On a night when BCS No. 1 Kansas State was exposed, crushed at lowly Baylor, the Oregon loss completely turned college football upside down. "I learned a lot,'' Mariota said. "This was the first overtime I've ever played in.'' His first? In this situation? He just seemed so young, sitting there in a postgame news conference, explaining how he had missed a call on third down in overtime and thrown to the wrong spot in the end zone. "He was running one way,'' Mariota said simply, "and I was throwing the other. Just a miscommunication. That's on me.'' He also had run frantically on the first two downs and gotten nowhere. I came to the game thinking about Mariota, figuring Oregon would win and wondering why no one puts him in the race for the Heisman Trophy. He has been great. But at some point, reality sets in. You can't really call it choking. That's too simple, though the pressure on the whole program was obvious. Oregon coach Chip Kelly was acting more snippy than usual during the week, strangely getting upset with a reporter for writing that Kelly was considering trying an offensive player on defense. Was that panic? A week earlier, desperate over the injuries to his defensive line, Kelly had burned a redshirt year on freshman Alex Balducci, basically killing a year of his eligibility with a just a few games to go. The truth is, the night, including Kansas State's loss, just showed how hard it is to win all the way through a college football season. Two weeks ago, the talk was that Alabama would get to the title game undefeated, and then Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame would all go undefeated, too, with two of them being left out. Then last week, Alabama lost, and that was it for Alabama. That was it for the entire SEC. Now, all based on Saturday's games, the SEC winner is almost sure to get into the national championship game. That probably means Alabama against Notre Dame, which is back as the only bowl-eligible undefeated team. Linebacker Manti Te'o is now the strong favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, with only Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel as competition. When he woke up Saturday morning, Johnny QB wasn't even in the running. It could all change again, by the way. The BCS will be a complete mess again if Notre Dame loses to USC this coming Saturday, and that could end up with Oregon still getting to the title game. Every coach will say (read: lie) that he doesn't think about all of that stuff. But that's not possible. It's also hard to believe that Kansas State and Oregon just coincidentally lost on the same week they had moved into position for the national championship game. At some point, did all of that figuring become too much? "We try not to think of those things, but it still hurts,'' Mariota said. "We don't live in a bubble. But this doesn't define a season.'' No, it defines college football. The thrill of it. The size of it. You put it all together: The big business, the pressure, just the difficulty of seeing different types of teams each week, and it shouldn't be a shock what happened to Oregon. Stanford pounded on the Ducks, tore up the rhythm of their superfast offense and slowed it down a step. On offense, Stanford kept pounding, too. Tailback Stepfan Taylor plowed away for 161 yards. The style of play was perfect for beating Oregon. The right team won. So this isn't to put the blame on Mariota. He threw for 207 yards and a touchdown. He was fine, and is probably going to be great someday. I guess it was seeing him after the game, not crushed or demoralized, but just looking like a kid, playing down the road from Nike headquarters in such a big-dollar moment. We have grown to see amazing things from young players in all sports, but this was still a big ask for a freshman quarterback. That's not to say it's an unfair situation. It's just the reality. If anything, Kelly, a grown man, might be worth criticizing, possibly adding pressure to his team. But this was just mostly about the toughness of Stanford's defense. Kelly told the team afterward that "things aren't always going to go your way. That's life.'' But things could still work out. If Notre Dame loses to USC, then who will play the SEC winner for the title? Probably not Kansas State, after such a big beating. Not the SEC title game loser. Not Notre Dame. Not LSU. Maybe Florida. But if Notre Dame loses, and UCLA beats Stanford, then Oregon might still get in with a win over Oregon State, and then over UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship Game. This is one of the most exciting finishes to a season in years. You can see why ESPN has, according to Sports Business Journal, offered $7.2 billion for the national championship playoffs for 12 years. If Oregon still manages to get to the title game, this machine will come down even harder on Mariota. He might be OK, though. He is incredibly talented. And now he even knows what overtime feels like, too.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Marcus Mariota: Stanford Post Game

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota discusses Oregon 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford on Nov. 17, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.
FOWL BEHAVIOR

Lee Corso manhandles duck on 'GameDay'

Lee Corso's Mascot Head picks on College GameDay in 2012 have taken that impressive step from "cute sideshow tradition" to "theatrical production complete with dancing cheerleaders and live animals."  In fact, I'm sure a few million dollars of ESPN's budget has been set aside this year for the use of live animals on GameDay alone.  It's become...

College football rankings: Top 25, week 12

Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks ran into a stout defensive front. Unable to break away from Stanford, the nation’s number two fell in overtime (Getty/ Dykes)   Tailgater Top 25 Rankings, Week 12 What in the heck did we just see?  For one unbeaten to fall would have been surprise and chaos, but two?  Nearly three?  Ohio State outplayed Wisconsin for most of the game but...

Lee Corso almost kills a duck on College GameDay (Video)

The ESPN College GameDay crew was on location at the University of Oregon Saturday, and analyst Lee Corso picked Oregon to defeat Stanford in Saturday's game. Corso put on the head of the Oregon Duck mascot costume, as he traditionally does with the school of the team he picks.  but then tried to take things to the next level when he was handed a live duck. In hindsight...

Ducks unbeaten season goes wide right, 17-14

Saturday night, it rained in Autzen Stadium. For the second November in a row the Ducks' hope of a second appearance in the national championship game ended with missed field goals, missed blocks and loose footballs that bounced the other way. Stanford's quick, physical defensive front didn't need a replay review to defeat Oregon at the line of scrimmage. The Ducks...

Oregon Ducks Cheerleader Calendar now available

They’re the hottest cheerleading squad in all of college football. There’s no doubt about it. The 2013 Oregon Cheer Calendar is now on sale online. The first-ever officially sanctioned calendar to feature the Oregon Ducks nationally renowned cheerleaders includes 13 pics, one for each month plus a pull out poster. It’s the closest thing to a NCAA bikini calendar you’ll...

The Oregon Ducks Mascot Lost His Head While Skydiving

The Oregon Ducks mascot, Puddles, lost his head while skydiving for a College GameDay segment on Friday. Puddles was mid-jump when his head came off and plummeted to Earth, prompting a swift search for the head in Oregon. BREAKING NEWS; The ORE Duck head is missing. While skydiving today, it came loose & plummeted to earth. A search is ongoing. No joke. — Chris Fowler (@cbfowler...

More Avoidable Pain For The Oregon Ducks

That hurts. That really hurts. Watching a national championship slip through the fingers of your college football team as the blood slips away from your body is just about as painful an experience as you can have in sports. There is a multitude of talking points and controversy and angles to analyze, scenarios to address, and for some of us, hair to pull out from Stanford'...

Alejandro Maldonado: Stanford Post Game

Despite missing two field goals during Oregon's 17-14 loss to Stanford, Duck place kicker Alejandro Maldonado was man enough to face the media after the game and respond to questions about what happened on the field.

The Oregon Duck's head was missing (but has been recovered)

In today's most odd news story of the day, Chris Fowler of ESPN tweeted out that the head of the Oregon Ducks' mascot was missing. How did this happen, you ask? Simple: it fell off when the mascot was skydiving on Friday. The head of a mascot coming off and getting lost during a skydiving incident is something that I don't think we've seen before in any sport, because...

Ducks Quest For BCS Title Ends in Overtime

EUGENE, ORE., -- The Oregon Ducks could not find the Autzen Stadium magic and fell to the Stanford Cardinal, 17-14 in overtime. Oregon falls to 10-1 for the season and 7-1 in the conference race while Stanford improves to 9-2 for the year and an identical 7-1 in the conference.

Marcus Mariota is better than...

It's interesting that the Ducks two stars, Kenjon Barner and Marcus Mariota, both defy nicknaming. I'll never forget the Cal game last year. Barner breaks off a 68-yard touchdown run and Rece Davis, doing the call on ESPN, exclaimed, "He doesn't need a nickname, he's just GONE. Gone, Kenjon Barner." For Mariota, "The Flyin' Hawaiian" seems...

Game Tied at Seven

EUGENE, ORE., -- The Oregon Ducks and the Stanford Cardinal battled to a 7-all tie in the first half of the game tonight at Autzen Stadium.

Week 12 College football preview: Stanford vs. Oregon matchup

A Defining Moment While the Oregon Ducks have already dispelled the threat of the USC Trojans (at least for the time being), they may face an even tougher test when they play host to the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday night in Autzen Stadium. Matchup: Stanford at Oregon Venue: Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Oregon) Game Time, TV: 5:00pm PST, ABC/ESPN Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012 Team...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.