Oregon football’s last BCS trip to Glendale, Ariz., wasn’t the happiest moment in program history.
Coming off a program-best undefeated regular season and led by Heisman-finalist LaMichael James, Oregon fans legitimately thought the Ducks could hang with No. 1 Auburn and their dual-threat QB monster Cam Newton. In truth, they were correct — right up until running back Michael Dyer’s knee didn’t quite touch the turf, and the Tigers kicked a game-winning field goal.
As confetti rained down after Auburn’s 22-19 win, some Ducks — on the field and in the stands — cried.
“Walking out of that stadium was by far the most depressing Oregon football moment I’ve ever witnessed,” University of Oregon senior and lifelong Ducks fan Chris Gowdy said. “Even worse than the 38-8 loss against BYU in the 2006 Vegas Bowl.”
The Ducks (11-1) return to University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 3 to face another Heisman-hyped dual-threat quarterback in Collin Klein and his Kansas State Wildcats (11-1). After a season that many fans considered national-championship-or-bust, it will be interesting to see how well Duck fans travel to Glendale for the game. Despite Glendale being 500 miles closer to Eugene than Auburn, the Tigers were far more represented in 2010.
“The Duck fans were just as intense as the Auburn fans,” Gowdy said. “We were just clearly outnumbered.”
Expect Oregon to be outnumbered again this year. Manhattan, Kan., home of the Wildcats is actually closer to Glendale than Eugene. Both schools have been allocated 17,500 tickets for the bowl game, and Kansas State asked for, and received, an extra 4,000. According to the Wildcats’ athletic department, all of its tickets have been claimed through pre-order sales.
“There’s been an incredible demand from Kansas State fans,” Craig Pintens told The Register-Guard. “I think Kansas State is very excited to be in the Fiesta Bowl. They haven’t been to a BCS game in a while, so fans are pretty excited.” Pintens manages the athletic department’s marketing and public relations sectors.
Kansas State’s demand, coupled with the Oregon fans’ massive expectations for the Ducks this season, might lead to a dip in Oregon’s fan attendance. It’s a situation the athletic department has met head-on:
— Craig Pintens (@UOPintens) December 4, 2012
Gowdy thinks several factors can be attributed for Ducks fans not always traveling well.
“Up until recent years, the majority of students were always Oregon residents,” Gowdy said. “And Oregon isn’t a very easy state to travel out of, or close to any other major stadiums. We also haven’t gained those bandwagon fans yet that the teams like LSU, Auburn, Ohio State, etc. have gained from their successful programs in the past.”
Local travel agents have put together multiple packages for fans, including one all-inclusive option with direct charter flights from Eugene.