Oregon Ducks Vs. Michigan State Is More Than A Clash Of Contenders


In four days, two of college football’s heavyweights will go toe-to-toe in a matchup that carries playoff implications.

In one corner, the Michigan State Spartans seek revenge for last year’s 46-27 blowout at Autzen Stadium. In the other corner, the Oregon Ducks look to silent the most hostile and boisterous crowd they will play in front of all season.

More from Autzen Zoo

Oregon’s nineteen point victory last year may lead one to believe it was a lopsided contest. Down 27-18 midway through the third quarter, the out-of-sync Duck’s offense faced a third and ten near midfield. The following play Marcus Mariota avoided a near sack, escaped the collapsing pocket, and flicked a shovel pass to Royce Freeman to pick up the first down. The Ducks capped off the drive with a touchdown and never looked back. Michigan State didn’t score a point the rest of the game. The Spartan’s 9-point lead turned into a humiliating loss. Oregon went on to a Rose Bowl victory and National Championship appearance, where they annihilated by 22 at the hands of Ohio State. Michigan State fell to the Buckeyes as well but finished their season with an impressive win over the Baylor Bears in the Cotton Bowl.

That was then. Now, it’s the Spartans who are favored. Michigan State returns their star quarterback, Connor Cook. 2014’s hero for the Ducks, Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, now wears powder blue in Tennessee. The Spartans are home this time, with the privilege of calling College Gameday their guests. And if you thought Virginia Tech put on a prime example of home field advantage against Ohio State, wait until you see the atmosphere at Spartan Stadium this Saturday.

But this highly touted cross-conference showdown is more than just two top-10 teams colliding.

Saturday is more than a clash between two goliaths of the sport. It’s a collision between two different cultures.

The University of Oregon resides in Eugene, Oregon: a hippie oasis that harnesses a free-spirited mindset similar to the one found in the Oregon Ducks football program. It’s uptempo offense, infinite uniform selection, and lack of fourth down punts are all steady reminders that the Ducks delightedly give the middle finger to tradition every chance they get.

And if the Oregon Ducks are synonymous with West Coast speed and flair, the Michigan State Spartans embody the grit and robustness of the Midwest.

Quite simply, If Carhartt had a college football team, it would be Michigan State. Spartan football personifies the blue-collar mentality that inhabits the Rust Belt. There’s no glamor in East Lansing; just old school, grind it out football. From their pro-style quarterback led offense, to their stubborn defense, the Spartans don’t value style points; only victories.

Despite their apparent differences, Oregon and Michigan State share a common burden: winning respect. Oregon’s pizazz has come at a cost. Their high-scoring shootouts indicate soft, gimmicky football to many. For Michigan State, they are by default placed in the shadows of Ohio State and Michigan. Despite years of building its résumé, it’s the Buckeyes and Wolverines that draw the headlines and hysteria. The Spartans are the perennial third wheel.

Yes, it’s a heavyweight matchup on Saturday; Between a startup program that used a corporation to spring them to prominence, and a historic basketball school that slowly crept into the National Championship scene.

On paper, it is merely a football game that needs no hype. No. 7 vs. No. 5. Pac-12 vs. Big 10. West Coast progressiveness vs. traditional Midwestern values. It’s the Ducks and Spartans in prime time. And both are ready to rumble.

Next: AP Top 25: Oregon Remains 7th