The Oregon Ducks struggled down the stretch in 2013, losing two conference games down the stretch to lose control of the Pac-12 title race on two separate occasions to the Stanford Cardinal. Those losses put their streak of four-straight BCS bowl appearances in jeopardy this season as they had to hope to get selected as an at-large selection. Despite ranking No. 10 in the final BCS standings before the bowl season, however, Oregon was passed over for the four at-large bids for the BCS, putting a disappointing end to a 2013 season filled with missed opportunities.
With the final BCS standings announced, the at-large bids for the January BCS bowls will be the Oklahoma Sooners and Alabama Crimson Tide in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Ohio State Buckeyes and Clemson Tigers in the Discover Orange Bowl. Oregon was at a disadvantage with the Sugar and Orange having selection priority for the at-large selections due to their regional handicap compared to the other qualified at-large teams. They will be heading to a second-tier bowl this postseason despite being ranked higher than both No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 12 Clemson.
But Oregon has nobody to blame for getting left out of the BCS bowl selections this season but themselves. They were handed the inside track to the Rose Bowl when the Stanford Cardinal lost to the USC Trojans but quickly gave it back when they fell flat on the road against the Arizona Wildcats. Add some Oregon players’ disparaging comments about the opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl being “no big deal” to that terrible loss to Arizona and their cross-country location to the available BCS slots, and Oregon was an easy team to leave off the list.
Missing the BCS this season should serve as an important lesson in humility and focus for an Oregon squad that was talented enough to have a truly special 2013 season. Nothing is guaranteed in college football and everything has to be earned. That’s something that Mark Helfrich let slip in his first season as head coach of the Ducks and has to recapture this offseason to get Oregon back to the BCS next season.