ON SUNDAYS, IF YOU HAD PLAYED ONE SNAP THE DAY BEFORE, YOU WOULD have to check in to get treatment, and then you would have the rest of the day off. We would grab the paper to see if there were any cool pictures of the game, or we'd go online and check the stats. A lot of commentators and bloggers would say, "Oregon is a fast-paced, finesse team, but we're not sure if they're a physical team."
We knew Stanford could run it down your throat. A lot of people picked Stanford to beat us because they thought that we'd get hit in the mouth and crumble. But we had marked that game on our calendar after what happened in 2009, when we went on that seven-game streak only to lose to Stanford. They had our number, so we had to get them back. We knew the winner of the game would probably win the league.
This game was all we were talking about, whether it was in the morning discussing different coverage adjustments that we could make or while watching extra film—because we knew that it was going to be a dogfight.
And if you know Eugene, you know it's a true college town. No matter where my friends and I went that week, whether it was a pizza spot or just walking on campus, we had somebody come up to us and say, "Beat Stanford!" or "Win this one!" The whole city was electrified.
It was a prime-time game, and those are always the hardest to get up for because you're just sitting around the hotel all day. But there was still a buzz going around. We had a couple of extra hours to watch film and tidy everything up for the game. Before we got on the buses, we always saw a highlight tape of the previous games. The lights would dim, and we would watch it on a big projector in one of the ballrooms at the hotel. That was really our rah-rah speech before the Stanford game. Everybody started jumping up and being loud. It was like a locker room in there.
Early in the game we had a couple of coverage busts. I chalked it up to excitement and people trying to do too much. Even though we were down 21--3 after the first quarter, if you go back and watch the sideline, you'll see there wasn't panic in anybody's eyes. Myself, Casey Matthews, Talmadge Jackson and Brandon Bair brought the whole starting defense together and said, "We have to be the spark right now. We can't allow our offense to go out there down a couple touchdowns." It made us play that much faster.
Truthfully, we expected the comeback. We knew their players would become more tired and we would actually pick it up.
I was on the sideline when Eddie Pleasant returned the fumble. We knew that was pretty much the turning point of the game. Guys were jumping up and down. Right when we caught back up to them, the feeling was, They had a couple of plays, but ultimately we'll be able to run with these guys. After that turnover we had the whole stadium behind us. Our confidence was at an alltime high, so we thought, Let's finish this game. LaMichael James's last touchdown was the dagger.
A lot of the fans stormed the field after the game. I had two friends visiting, and they found me in the crowd. We were jumping around, screaming together. About five minutes later I walked into the locker room. After every win we would sing the fight song. Guys were jumping around on couches, swinging from their lockers. [Nike founder and Oregon alum] Phil Knight was in the locker room shaking hands. Coaches were hugging everybody.
Winning that game as decisively as we did, we showed everyone we could play with any team.