After Oregon lost to Oregon State in the last game of the regular season, dooming Oregon's chance to play USC for the Pac-12 championship and potentially earn a Rose Bowl berth, going to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego struck me as a crappy consolation prize.
And for most of today's game against North Carolina in the Holiday Bowl, that assessment seemed right-on. I was totally prepared for Oregon to lose, end up 9-4 on the season, and look forward to better times next year, since this season would have ended in a disappointing fashion.
Then the fourth quarter happened. Bo Nix, Oregon's quarterback, played great, even though he didn't appear to be 100% after suffering a leg injury near the end of the regular season. Oregon scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, knotting the score at 27-27 with less than 30 seconds remaining.
The extra point seemed anticlimactic. But Camden Lewis pulled his kick to the left, hitting the upright with an audible "clunk," momentarily causing gasps from Oregon fans like me. Which turned to sighs of relief when the ball bounced off the upright and through the goal posts.
Whew: 28-27 Oregon. Drake Maye, the talented North Carolina quarterback, still had 19 seconds left to pull out a win. Thankfully, his pass into the end zone with one second left was knocked down by Oregon players.
It turned out that the Holiday Bowl was highly entertaining. That would have been the case no matter which team won. I'm just glad that it was Oregon. And that Bo Nix has decided to return for another year of being the Oregon quarterback.