A master of getting the last laugh, what if Neuheisel pulls it off? What if he gets to leave Autzen one last time pointing upward and shouting, "Scoreboard baby!"?
Neuheisel (which is German for "God cast him out of heaven") gave the following quotes at the Pac 12 Champ press conference.
"Yet, despite all the difficulty and all the adversity on the field or off with injuries or the like, we’re a game from playing in the Rose Bowl, which is the amazing thing about all of this. We’re going to take our swings."
"We do have experience in getting up off the mat. We’ve done it before. We had a very difficult loss in Tucson on a Thursday night and came back the next outing and defeated a talented Cal team, and then followed that with a victory over a very talented Arizona State team. We have experience under our belt to lend itself to getting up, finding yourself and playing much better football. Hopefully that will be the case again tomorrow night."
"It’s all about commitment. Ultimately commitment is just that - finishing what you start. I was excited that I got to stay in my role as head coach for this particular game and just do that. See if we can find lightning in a bottle and make this a game."
We shouldn't expect any less of him.
Meanwhile, Chip Kelly has his usual approach to this game. . . .
Q: Can you speak to having a chance to play in the Rose Bowl for the second time since you’ve been here?
COACH KELLY: Haven’t talked one thing about that. Our sole focus is just playing another game. We don’t play games and say, “Hey, if we win this game, we get this.” It’s not about the prize at the end; it’s about the game itself. That’s all we’re focused and concentrated on.
Q: Did you guys get to finally practice in Autzen today? What did you think about what they’ve done with your stadium? [Note: Apparently, Autzen will look a little different. Pac-12 signs will cover up Duck stuff. Don Essig won't be the main announcer. However, the Pac-12 will allow the motorcycle to lead the team in. Coach Kelly clearly shows great concern about the changes . . .]
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we practiced in there today. I think they put some new banners up and covered up our stuff. We don’t care.
Q: You don’t think about the other team’s mindset, but do you think in this situation, which is fairly unique, with Rick Neuheisel coaching his last game, did you have to prepare mentally that maybe they’re going to try some pretty tricky, funky stuff in terms of trick plays on offense and really let it all hang out instead of just sticking to some of the things they’ve done in the 12 games before this?
COACH KELLY: You can talk about that, but then you’re chasing goats. If you don’t prepare based upon what they’ve done and then just say, “Hey, I think that their mindset is going to be this. I know they’ve done this for 12-straight games, but let’s start practicing halfback passes and double reverses and all these other things,” we’d be kicking ourselves if they run the ball up and down the field like they’ve done the last 12 games. The other thing you have to be conscious of is everybody in a short week only had two days to really practice, so how much can you put in that’s new at that point in time? I think we’re prepared. It’s about understanding where your keys are. No matter what people run for a trick play, there still should be someone watching it. [Ha ha. Kelly called the Bruins goats.]
Two things that will save Oregon from Neuheisel's last stand.
1) Kelly got it right when he said that the teams have little time to prepare for each other. That affects UCLA far more than it affects Oregon.
2) The way the Ducks focus on the next thing is so solid. The next game, the next play, the next option. Even if UCLA were to jump out ahead, they would have the joy of trying to maintain that lead.
I just thought of one more factor. This isn't just Oregon's chance to win. It is their DUTY. The whole nation is counting on them to keep a terrible Bruin team from going to the Rose Bowl. The thought is so horrible, Rose Bowl officials in Pasadena will actually be rooting against their home team.
Neuheisel is frighteningly correct. UCLA is just one step away -- perhaps only one dislocated elbow away from winning it. They are the Sarah Palin of college football.
They must be stopped at all costs; and Oregon is just the team to do it.
Ya. That's the stuff.
Game time: Friday, 5pm Pacific on FOX (Not Fox Sports, the other FOX where you watch the Simpsons, Judge Judy, or reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond.)