Three national championships in four years do not intimidate the fans of the team considered by many to be the best bet to knock top-ranked Alabama off its perch.
Oregon, which has sat behind the Crimson Tide in the polls at No. 2 for much of this season before being ranked No. 3 in the BCS standings, has been a perennial national championship contender for the past few years, and many Duck fans believe this year is the year that Oregon will finally break through.
But winning the title game will only be half the battle for many Oregon students, who made it clear which team in particular they hope to face in Pasadena Jan. 6, with “We Want Bama” T-shirts hitting the school’s campus this past week.
Victor Flores, the digital sports editor for Oregon’s student newspaper the Daily Emerald and one of the two co-writers on the initial story on the shirts, said Oregon seniors Grant Otter and Harrison Tingler were inspired to create the T-shirts after “we want Bama” chants broke out after Oregon’s blowout win over Tennessee Sept. 14.
“It’s something Duck fans have been thinking about for a long time,” Flores said. “Because they’re the top dog, Alabama. They’ve won three of the last four national championships. They’re kind of the target, and that’s how Duck fans look at it.”
According to the Daily Emerald’s article, Otter and Tingler began selling the shirts through word of mouth but have since set up a booth at the EMU Amphitheater, Oregon’s student union building. They have sold nearly 200 of the $10 shirts as of Thursday and plan on ordering 400 more.
“I think the guys who started this shirt are really reflecting a lot of Duck fans’ mentality,” Flores said. “They want to get there; they’re confident they’ll get there, but if it’s going to be one team, the majority of them want to see Alabama.”
Though Flores said he believes the shirts are well received by most fans, there are some who do not approve of the shirts coming out this early in the season, with several big games the Ducks must play between now and a potential Alabama-Oregon matchup.
“Looking ahead to a possible national championship against Alabama with so many things that could go a different way, they’re not happy that somebody started this,” Flores said.
Many of those fans have some doubts about the Ducks’ chances, if Oregon is to make it to the national championship game, realizing the challenges Alabama poses on any team.
“Some people I’ve talked to are a little worried because Alabama is a good team, and they’ve obviously been really good in the last few years, [so] they’re definitely concerned that if they face Alabama, that will be a really tough game.”
But for most Oregon fans, the T-shirts not only represent their desire to play Alabama, but also their confidence that they will beat the Crimson Tide, if and when the time comes.
“I think with everything that’s happened the last few years, and how successful they’ve been, I think there’s an overriding sense of confidence that they can beat anybody,” Flores said.