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Oregon vs Michigan State Had A Familiar Feel.
Chef Hercules Prepares The Next Pre-game Meal. via David Gillaspie

Chef Hercules Prepares The Next Pre-game Meal. via David Gillaspie

Football has so many gut references it’s no wonder fans gorge like there’s no tomorrow on game days.

A couple of the gut basics:

Punch in the gut.

When the offense runs through the defense on an important drive.

Gut check?

That’s what a team does after the other team runs through them on an important drive.


That’s when you get up and do it all again until the last whistle.

Football takes something special to play. Not everyone has it.

Waiting for the Ducks and Spartans to rumble on Saturday? That was gut churning. Experts say the best way to stay calm is by following regular habits.

Early Saturday I got ready for the game with the regular rituals and customs. First, get a big bench press maxing out with a two hundred forty pound rep, then whipping up on the yard, and finally gorge, er, game time.

None of it went according to plan, first the gym.

My spotter stood ready, too ready.

“Just stand there and take the bar off my neck if I drop it. Okay?”


I got the lift off, then the drop. Got it out of the hole, off my chest, always a struggle, and almost locked out my elbows for a clean lift.

Except my spotter grabbed the bar for the re-rack too soon. He didn’t have to, but he wanted to help. His intentions were good.

With the Ducks the biggest item on my Saturday to-do list, I try to avoid any bad omens. This was one of them.

I got home and had some lunch before the game. Two day old Chinese food left out over night? Delicious.

The game started and I fell into a Marcus Mariota trance. What is it about this guy that looks so familiar? He’s a cross between New England’s Tom Brady and Seattle’s Russell Wilson. He’s got pocket presence with his slip and slide moves and enough speed to take it outside.

Call him a proto-type of the modern college football quarterback, but the Michigan State quarterback channeled his version of Peyton Manning in the first half. Didn’t look good for the home team.

My gut check moment came with the first punt from the Spartans. The Duck returner had some room when the punter decides to try out as a wedge breaker and drills our guy out of bounds.

The punter as cover guy? Not good.

In fact the entire first half felt like a prelude to disaster, the sort where the talking heads and writers all remember the Oregon teams falling to the big teams, the Stanfords, LSU, and Auburn. Now the Spartans?

It’s a different team and a different year.

The second half started with a Duck gut check and chicken garlic pizza. The final score shows how much gut checking.

The second half dominance gave me time to settle on next week’s ritual for the Wyoming game. Get up early for the gym, zip around the yard and plant a few flowers, kill a few hornet hives, eat a plate of two day old Chinese food left out over night.


With the biggest game of the week over, and a USC win over Stanford, it was time to relax with OSU vs Hawaii. Since I’d recorded the Ducks, I reviewed the scoring plays, the explosive moments, before the Beaver game.

During those plays I found my own explosive moment. Second half pizza? Boom. Beers? Boom. Water? Boom.

It was the sort of explosions that have only one possible source: Two day old Chinese food left out over night. It was food poisoning, not Duck anxiety.

After flushing the aftermath of the Michigan State game, the question of customs and rituals asks if a sportswriter need risk another hurling event for the Wyoming Cowboys, or save it for the Washington Huskies on October 18 and Stanford on November 1?

Do you have rituals and customs you pay attention to before big games? They can’t be worse than mine.





About David Gillaspie
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