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Ducks will win big game on Monday

Understandably, I probably get asked more these days about Monday’s national championship game between Oregon and Ohio State than anything else.

What a thrilling time to be in Oregon. I’m sure the vast majority of the TV sets in the state will be tuned in Monday night. Even people who bleed black and orange most of the year can get behind the Ducks, though Ohio State isn’t nearly as hated an opponent as Alabama would have been. The more SEC teams lose in bowl games, the better in my book.

As for my thoughts on the game, you’ll have to get to the end of the column.

But first, a few other points to ponder.

A worker at ESPN contacted us this week looking for photos of Mark Helfrich and his dad, Mike, for a feature leading into the game.

Mike, for those who don’t remember, died a few years back on a trip to Arizona to watch Mark coaching the Ducks when the younger Helfrich was still just the offensive coordinator.

I have lots of fond memories of Mike and how you could tell which school Mark was coaching for by the color of the giant college jackets he wore to sporting events at Marshfield, SWOCC and just about every other gym on the South Coast.

But as for photos, we found none. That’s not entirely true. I scoured our preseason pictures from when Mike was coaching Marshfield’s football team with Kent Wigle and found plenty, just none where he was the focus. Lou Sennick, our senior photographer, remembered that Mike was really friendly every time Lou’s camera was not in position to take pictures and scarce any time Lou was ready to shoot.

That’s the way it was with everything. He was the announcer for wrestling both at Marshfield and SWOCC, but always in a way that kept him out of the spotlight.

We actually did publish a photo with Mike in it right before the Bay Area Sportsman’s Association banquet and auction one year. He brought down a University of Oregon helmet that was one of the auction items. But in fashion true to his nature, the picture was a close-up of the helmet, with the only part of Mike visible being his hands.

That was Mike, a giant of a man with a giant heart and a very humble nature. You can see that in Mark, who will never be as flashy as a lot of the other coaches out there.

As for flashy, Oregon’s uniforms for the championship game sort of fit that bill. Just don’t expect to see any green or yellow.

Nope, the Ducks will be sporting white tops and gray pants (they call them steel). The helmets will be shiny and have wings. They won’t, though, have Oregon’s colors.

Actually, I guess they will.

I’ve made no secret my desire for Oregon to actually wear its colors more. My favorite uniforms all season were the throwbacks to the 1994 Rose Bowl year. My next favorite were the ones the Ducks wore for the Rose Bowl.

I love that shade of green, one that’s been largely forgotten. And that shade of yellow.

Of course, by now Oregon has many shades of green and yellow (I hope lightning got lost somewhere in storage).

Unfortunately, at least in my eyes, Oregon also has several varieties of uniforms in black, white, gray (or is it silver) and even pink highlights (admittedly for the good cause of breast cancer awareness).

I’ve been saying for years that eventually Oregon will have either purple or orange, though I’m not sure which hated rival (the Huskies or Beavers) will have their colors incorporated by Oregon first.

Conspiracy theorists (myself included) also will point out that Oregon’s uniform combination should spur another round of sales in the bookstores, just adding to the legacy of Nike University and financing those fancy facilities.

One of my favorite odd stories this week involved the town of Oregon, Ohio, which made its allegiance this week clear.

Two men there, one a University of Michigan fan, wanted the town to change its name for the week. They also wanted the high school there to change its colors (green and yellow) for the week.

Cooler heads prevailed. Oregon, Ohio, will still be Oregon on Monday, though firmly in the Buckeyes’ corner come game time.

So who wins?

Unless Urban Meyer is an even better coach than I think he is, Oregon should win easily … I think I am on record saying by at least three touchdowns.

No disrespect to the Buckeyes. They have great athletes and great coaches.

But so did Florida State, which had a month to prepare for Oregon’s blur offense and still couldn’t handle it.

If Oregon and Ohio State had met in the semifinals, I’d give the Buckeyes a better chance. But they only have a week to get ready for Oregon’s pace and style.

Ohio State has a great offense, but Oregon has a way of creating opportunities with its defense (which is greatly underrated), and shows no remorse going for the kill. And I just don’t think the Buckeyes can score enough points to keep up.