EUGENE — The Oregon players to speak after the loss at Arizona State said little; once they left Sun Devil Stadium for the trip home the Ducks said even less.
Reality was setting in and being digested by players, coaches and staffers that their College Football Playoff dreams had come to an end.
“You could hear a pin drop,” linebacker Troy Dye said. “You could hear the rain drops hit the windows (on the plane). It was very quiet but it needed to be like that because of the way it ended. That’s just how it is.”
Teams traveling home off a loss are usually somber and the Ducks were no exception.
“We’re continuing to elevate our own expectations for ourselves,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “So after a game like that you’re going to be upset; you’re not going to be happy. You’re going to be down — and it should be that way. We talked as a team and that’s as quiet as a plane ride as I’ve ever been on and not by a little. And you know what, it should be that way. If it wasn’t that way I’d be really disappointed and I’d say that you know what we got the wrong guys.”
The same group has to respond this week to avoid any lingering disappointment from carrying into the Civil War Saturday afternoon (1 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Oregon failed to do so a year ago after its loss at Washington State and had its worst loss of the season at Arizona.
The Ducks have not had such an issue following their two losses since then, but neither the loss at Utah last season or falling to Auburn to start this season had the same magnitude of implications as last weekend.
“In terms of understanding that you can never allow yourself to get beat twice by the same team, it’s popping right back into what you need to prepare for the next one,” Cristobal said. “Our leadership council and coaches, the team as a whole, when we meet we recognize, assess, understand good things, bad things, things that must improve to go on and get better and we did that and immediately right back, shaking it off and going on to the next one. Understanding that we’re playing a really good football team, a really good football team that’s got a lot to play for and we feel we’re a really good football team that has a lot to play for. Some of it takes care of itself and the rest of it, the culture is taking over.”
The Civil War will have no impact on Oregon’s postseason destination. The Ducks will play for a trip to the Rose Bowl and the Pac-12 Championship next week regardless, and that was their primary goal this season.
“Personally, the playoff was never the goal,” nose tackle Jordon Scott said. “From the beginning of the season our goal was always to win the Pac-12 and that’s still in front of us. That’s all we’ve been focusing on and everybody getting to ‘Take the Pac’ back in their head.”
Dye said he saw the early signs of a team moving on from last week’s loss and focusing on the task at hand this week.
Between the rivalry, Oregon State (5-6, 4-4 Pac-12) also coming off a brutal road loss and in need of a win to reach a bowl game, and it being the last home game for Oregon’s seniors, Cristobal was confident his team would respond.
“This is everything you would want in a college football game, especially for your last one of the regular season,” he said. “I think and feel very confident we’ll be dialed and focused in.”