If it was really state vs. state.
TEMPE, ARIZ. - They've come here - football teams from Oregon and Colorado - to prove to the world that they don't belong here. That, instead of playing in the Fiesta Bowl on Tuesday, they belong in Pasadena's Rose Bowl on Thursday, playing Miami for the national championship.
But some of us have grown weary of the whining about an allegedly corrupt Bowl Championship Series system that chooses the two teams for the championship game. It's time to decide who's worthy - not with some geeky computer system that's more complex than your monthly AT&T bill. It's time to decide it where it should be decided: right here in this column.
For our analysis, we're assuming that undefeated Miami belongs in the national championship game and that once-thrashed Nebraska does not. (Let's not be small-minded and disregard the Cornhuskers simply because Colorado obliterated them 62-36; let's be small-minded and disregard them simply because they're called the Cornhuskers and because Fed-Ex drivers have more exciting uniforms.)
That leaves Colorado and Oregon, which we'll now pit against each other in a mythical football game, the outcome of which will be decided by comparing the two states in 20 totally objective categories:
Lighthouses. Oregon has nine - 10 including a private one south of Yachats. Colorado, to my knowledge, has none (touchdown Oregon).
Heroics on the snow. Oh, you thought I was going to stack the deck with a bunch of pro-Oregon categories, huh? Remember: I said this was objective. Colorado history teems with stories of skiers, sledders and gritty settlers digging into harsh Rocky Mountain winters. So? Ann Bancroft, a 1981 UO graduate, was the first woman to cross the North and South Poles, the former by dog sled, the latter on skis. UO picks off what looked to be an easy Buff score (Ducks, 14-zip).
Wide-open space. Colorado has long been romanticized for its vast outdoors, but Colorado's population is 82 percent urban, Oregon's only 70. And Oregon has fewer people per square mile (35.6) than Colorado (41.5). Field goal, UO (Ducks, 17-0).
Days of sunshine. Colorado has 325, the Willamette Valley 42. Joey's blindsided by the linebacker of reality and Buffs capitalize (Ducks, 17-7).
"Who's Who in America" listings. Of those included in the prestigious book, 686 were born in Oregon, 489 in Colorado, according to Marquis, the book's publisher. That's worth a field goal (Ducks, 20-7).
Airline baggage retrieval systems. Eugene's airport may be a
johnny-come-lately to automated systems but, hey, some people are still waiting for their baggage five years after Denver International debuted its much-ballyhooed "system of the future" that gobbled Samsonite with the appetite of Jaws at a water park. Colorado caught in end zone for safety (Ducks, 22-7).
Notable people who are still alive. Colorado might start a front line of "Home Improvement" star Tim Allen, actor Robert Redford, singer Judy Collins, Apple computer inventor Steve Wozniak, ESPN football analyst Chris Fowler and "Sports Illustrated" columnist Rick Reilly.
Oregon could counter with "Into Thin Air" author Jon Krakauer, Nike Chairman Phil Knight, ESPN baseball analyst Harold Reynolds, reigning Miss America Katie Harman, NBC "Today Show" host Ann Curry and recent Nobel Prize winner Carl Wieman.
Close, but in our oozing objectivity, we'll give the Buffs a field goal because former Corvallisites Wieman and Krakauer now live in Boulder (Ducks, 22-10).
Icons now gone. In other words, John Denver vs. Ken Kesey, an intriguing match-up of interleague play, the two having distinct cult followings and distinct styles.
There was a certain authenticity to Kesey, whose "Sometimes a Great Notion" book was a tad deeper than, say, Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulders" song.
Also, Kesey didn't change his name to his state's capital - Ken Salem? - like Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. did. Field goal Oregon (Ducks, 25-10).
Border shapes. Along with Wyoming, near-rectangular Colorado is to borders what Sears is to retail. Yawn. Oregon, meanwhile, offers that cool Columbia River swoop, the subtle Snake River bulge and the sometimes jagged coastline highlighted by Cape Blanco, western-most point in the state (Ducks, 32-10.)
Mascots. Sure, buffaloes are big, mean and powerful, but they lack the aesthetics and grace of ducks. Buffaloes' heads appear too large for their bodies and big-headedness reflects over-inflated egos. Ducks, on the other hand, fly, waddle and paddle with a quiet confidence (Ducks, 39-10).
Weirdos. You'd think this would be an easy Oregon win - using Eugeneans alone - but not after I read the recent story about the Boulder man who, using a global positioning device, charted 1,494 piles of dog excrement as a means of arguing that pets should be banned from a mountain trail. UO punt blocked and Colorado scoops and scores (Ducks, 39-17).
Drivers. You can tell when you've crossed into Colorado from Wyoming: You're doing 75 and getting honked at for slow-poking. So much for "take me home country roads" (Ducks, 42-17).
Watching baseball. The last time I was at Coors Field in Denver, in April, I couldn't stand up to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" because I was frozen to my seat. First time I've heard the sound of chains en route to a baseball game (Ducks, 45-17).
Outdoor malls. Boulder's works; Eugene's doesn't. Touchdown, Colorado (Ducks, 45-24).
Songs. Two national anthems are rooted in the respective states. Katherine Lee Bates was inspired by Colorado's Pikes Peak when she wrote "America the Beautiful," and "Louie, Louie," of course, traces back to Portland. I'll give the Buffs a field goal in honor of Sept. 11 (Ducks, 45-27).
Innovations. Colorado is home of the first Stetson hat and the cheeseburger, the trademark for which was awarded to a Humpty Dumpty Drive-In owner in Denver in 1935. But Oregon counters with the bottle bill, Fosbury Flop high-jump style, vote-by-mail and the California Raisins, the latter created by claymation artist Will Vinton of Portland (Ducks, 48-27).
Movie comedies. I think we'd all pretty much agree that if we had a BCS rating system for such flicks - giving bonus points for "quality" restaurant scenes - "Dumb and Dumber" (filmed in Aspen) and "National Lampoon's Animal House" (filmed in Eugene) would be good choices to represent each state. "Animal," of course, is the local favorite, but do you want to hear the most annoying sound in the world? Touchdown, Colorado! Hard to top that "totally-redeem-yourself" line in D&D (Ducks, 48-34).
Astronauts. NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter not only grew up in Boulder, but also named his space capsule after his home on Aurora Street. (The capsule was called Aurora 7.) The closest space-case I can think of in Oregon was seeing a strange-looking young man hitchhiking on Interstate 105 with a sign that said "Mars." (My gosh, this is looking like Stanford all over again: Ducks, 48-41.)
Mountains. Sorry, not even my most imaginative provincialism can wrest Oregon from the jaws of defeat here. Colorado has 54 peaks 14,000 feet or higher; Oregon has none higher than Mount Hood at 11,235. (Game tied, 48-all, with only seconds remaining as UO's Jared Siegel lines up for a 50-yard field goal attempt.)
Snow. Once you commit to objectivity you must stick with it to the end, bitter though it may be. The latest national SnoCountry report shows the average maximum base depth at Colorado's ski areas is 33.4 inches. Oregon's is 92.5.
The undisputed final from Tempe: Oregon 51, Colorado 48.
The University of Oregon marching band and UO President Dave Frohnmayer will be part of the Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade today in Phoenix at noon (PST).
The UO team arrived on Wednesday; most of the official UO contingent arrived Friday.
The UO contingent in Tempe consists of 113 football players, 193 band members, 18 rally squad members and (don't tell the kids) two Duck mascots. Also, 61 football coaches, trainers and staff, 12 band staff and one rally squad staffer.
Three chartered planes - two from Eugene, one from Portland - were expected to leave today as part of the university's Official Fiesta Bowl Tour, sponsored by the UO Alumni Association.
As the weekend neared, supply was outstripping demand for Fiesta Bowl tickets being offered in newspaper classified ads and on eBay. Most were going at or near face value - $75 for the lowest-price tickets.
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|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Dec 29, 2001|
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