Autzen Stadium has hosted more than half of the 10 most hyped Pac-12 games of the past 10 years.
Saturday's game between USC and Oregon was being hyped as the "Game of the Century" in the Pac-12 until USC didn't hold up their part of the bargain and fell to Arizona. Now the game has lost a little bit of its luster with the Trojans retreating in the national polls and looking less like they will challenge the seemingly unbeatable Ducks. Despite all of this, it will still probably be the biggest conference game this year in the conference, but it probably no longer stacks up that well historically as other games in the hype department.
Since we won't be getting the colossal showdown of epic proportions, let's take a look at the 10 most hyped Pac-12 conference games of the last 10 years.
1. November 12, 2011 - #6 Oregon at #3 Stanford
This one was circled as one of the biggest national games of the year heading into the season with both teams being ranked in the Top 10 in the preseason and expected to compete for the conference championship against each other. Oregon had won the 2010 matchup which gave them the conference title and it was viewed as Andrew Luck's marquee Heisman showcase game along with his last chance to beat the Ducks.
Both teams came into the game ranked in the Top 10 and very much in the national title hunt with both undefeated in-conference and the Ducks having one loss in their opener against LSU. It was also a very interesting matchup with Stanford's classic, smash mouth running style facing off against Oregon's up-tempo, high-speed attack.
The Ducks controlled the game from the get go and though Stanford hung around for a while, the Ducks speed and conditioning took over late and they cruised to a 53-30 win, basically securing their place in the Pac-12 Championship and making them a serious national title contender again.
2. October 9, 2004 - #7 Cal at #1 USC
Both teams were undefeated, led by high profile quarterbacks and ranked in the Top 10. The Trojans were looking to avenge their only loss of 2003 that kept them from a consensus national championship and the Bears were trying to reach the next level and maintain the incredible success they had been experiencing under Jeff Tedford.
The game didn't disappoint in the least bit as Aaron Rodgers put together one of the best performances ever by a Pac-12 quarterback as he was nearly perfect and got the Bears four shots inside the 10-yard-line to beat the top ranked Trojans, but just couldn't connect with his receivers in one of the most exciting games in conference history that the Trojans held onto 23-17.
3. October 27, 2007 - #9 USC at #5 Oregon
The Ducks were looking to finally topple the mighty Trojans dynasty and win the conference behind the strength of first year offensive coordinator Chip Kelly's offense and Heisman frontrunner, quarterback Dennis Dixon. Both teams had suffered a loss earlier in the season, but looked like the best teams in the conference and came into the game ranked in the Top 10.
The game would end up being a lower scoring affair with the Ducks taking control with their ground game with Dixon and Jonathan Stewart and building a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter that they would hang onto for a 24-17 landmark win for the program.
4. November 1, 2003 - #6 Washington State at #3 USC
Yes kids, Washington State used to actually play in big games from time to time. The Cougars had upset the Trojans in Pullman the year before on their way to a Pac-10 championship setting up a revenge game for USC and both team were rolling as they headed into the game in the Coliseum, ranked in the Top 10 with one loss each.
The Cougars were able to keep themselves within striking distance most of the game by passing for more than 300 yards, but shot themselves in the foot with four turnovers which kept them from ever really making it a game. The Trojans were at their balanced best with Matt Leinart, Lendale White and Dwayne Jarrett and put the game away comfortably in the fourth quarter with a 43-16 win.
5. November 3, 2007 - #6 Arizona State at #4 Oregon
The Sun Devils were undefeated and the Ducks fresh off a huge win over USC the week before, setting up the second-straight Top 10 showdown in Autzen Stadium. Dixon had solidified himself as one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the country, but the Sun Devil defense had been strong all year and quarterback Rudy Carpenter fearless.
The Ducks got out to an early 21-3 lead and would then have to hold off a run from the Sun Devils before pretty much putting it to rest in the third quarter. Dixon was marvelous again for the Ducks with 4 touchdowns and Stewart steady on the ground as the Ducks pulled it out 35-23.
6. October 31, 2009 - #4 USC at #10 Oregon
The Trojans were still viewed as the top dogs in the Pac-10 heading into this game, but the Ducks offense was starting to really take off in Kelly's first year as head coach, and it was clear that a win over the Trojans could establish the Ducks as the new power in the conference. Both teams had suffered early-season losses, but came into a frenzied Autzen Stadium on Halloween ranked in the Top 10.
The game ended up being the first real primetime display of just how devastating the Oregon running game had become under Kelly as they came just short of 400 yards on the ground and racked up 4 touchdowns as they ran for 8-yards every carry. The Ducks announced that they were going to be the new Pac-10 power as they hammered the Trojans in the second half in a 47-20 win.
7. October 2, 2010 - #9 Stanford at #4 Oregon
Both teams were ranked in the Top 10 and undefeated heading into the game at Autzen and the Ducks were looking to get revenge for their only conference loss in 2009 which came at Stanford. Like all recent games between Stanford and Oregon, it was a showdown of contrasting styles and of Heisman candidates with Andrew Luck going up against LaMichael James.
The Cardinal got out to a stunning 21-3 lead in the first quarter, but the Ducks would fight back with their devastating speed and creating turnovers. The Ducks took the lead 38-31 in the third quarter and never looked back as they outscored the Cardinal 28-0 in the second half and James had an incredible day, running for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 52-31 win.
8. September 29, 2007 - #6 Cal at #11 Oregon
This is another showdown of undefeated, highly ranked teams back when people still talked about Jeff Tedford being a quarterback guru and about how he came from Oregon. Both teams were looking to finally knock USC off of the top of the conference and the winner was expected to the team that would in fact challenge the Trojans for the conference title.
The Bears would capitalize on 2 interceptions thrown by Dennis Dixon and used their big three of Nate Longshore, Justin Forsett and DeSean Jackson to get by the Ducks in Autzen with Forsett running in the game-winning touchdown with 3 minutes left to seal the deal 31-24 for the Bears.
9. December 4, 2005 - #11 UCLA at #1 USC
The Bruins were having one of their best seasons in years with Drew Olson at quarterback and the Trojans were trying to lock up a third-straight national championship when the two met up in late 2005. In one of the biggest games ever in the rivalry, it was guaranteed that the winner would be the conference champion.
However, the game was never in question as the Trojans plowed UCLA with Reggie Bush and LenDale White as they won 66-19 and set themselves up to play in the BCS Championship Game against Texas.
10. December 3, 2009 - #13 Oregon State at #9 Oregon
The Beavers were guaranteed to win the conference and head to the Rose Bowl in the first time in more than 40 years if they could win the Civil War and the Ducks the same, expect they would end only a 14-year Rose Bowl drought. The Beavers were led by the Rodgers brothers and quarterback Sean Canfield, while the Ducks high-octane offense was starting to kick into high gear.
Unable to stop LaMichael James, LaGarrette Blount and Jeff Maehl, the Beavers couldn't hang onto a second half lead and fell 37-33, giving the Ducks the conference championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl.