Oregon enters its Sept. 1 football season opener against Arkansas State playing in front of sold out crowds in Autzen Stadium for the last 82 consecutive games. However the nation’s fourth-longest current string could be in danger of coming to an end.
Beginning with the Ducks’ 33-30 triple-overtime win over USC on Sept. 25, 1999, Oregon has played in front of sellout crowds for all its ensuing home games. Even when the school increased its official stadium capacity from 41,698 to 54,000 to open the 2002 season, attendance figures often have included standing room-only fans lining the upper rim of the facility above the seating bowl.
Yet the sellout string – which trails only Nebraska (318 consecutive sellouts), Notre Dame (225) and Virginia Tech (87) – could be in jeopardy of coming to an end for the three-time conference champions who are coming off a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.
Oregon’s season-ticket renewals from last season once again surpassed 90 percent. However, single-game sales for its non-conference schedule have fallen short of projections.
A combination of a large segment of the student population not yet on campus prior to the Sept. 24 start of classes, as well as an opponent traveling a long distance to Eugene, have certainly contributed to the unusual ticket availability. Oregon, which enters the season ranked among the top five teams in the country in the majority of pre-season polls, has approximately 3,000 more tickets available for each of its first three games due to a reduction in the number of tickets allocated to University students until the start of the fall classes. In addition, close to 1,500 additional tickets remain available for the 2012 season opener than normal as Arkansas State requested fewer tickets than previous non-conference opponents.
Another contributing factor could be the unfamiliarity of an opponent the Ducks will be facing for the first time. Located in Jonesboro, Ark., the Red Wolves captured the Sun Belt Conference championship last season with a 10-2 record before losing to Northern Illinois, 38-20, in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Arkansas State is coached by Gus Malzahn, who last squared off against Oregon as the offensive coordinator at Auburn in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.
Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin is one of 50 players in the country named to the watch list for the Walter Camp Player-of-the-Year Award along with Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas. The pre-season Sun Belt Conference offensive player of the year pick finished 10th in the country in total offense a year ago (321.23 avg.) and 14th nationally in passing yards (3,588) – numbers that surpassed USC Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Barkley.
Reserved seats for games vs. FBS opponents Arkansas State and Fresno State (Sept. 8) are $66 each while tickets for the Sept. 15 game against FCS foe Tennessee Tech are $39. Tickets are available for purchase on-line at www.goducks.com/tickets, by phone at 541-346-4461 or 1-800-WEBFOOT, and in person at the Autzen Stadium South Ticket Building.