The Autzen Zoo
Every Saturday a beast roars in the heart of Eugene, Oregon; a roar that strikes fear into all who dare cross paths with the monster that produces it.
As it’s warriors traverse up and down its grounds in search of victory, it unleashes a force so powerful that it drives enemies that dare enter its territory mad. Many of the mighty have fallen victim to the terrible power harnessed by this monster, this beast, this zoo.
Echoing out amongst the Willamette Valley and reverberating all the way up and down the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Los Angeles, the animal house that is Autzen Stadium provides the best home field advantage in almost all of college football and surely within the Pac 12.
Every Saturday the Oregon Ducks are home, tens of thousands of ravenous Duck fans rush to their seats in order to once again aid their team to victory.
Originally built in 1967, Autzen Stadium boasts some of the most impressive views and facilities in all of the Pac 12 due to numerous renovations over the its lifespan.
The most recent and significant renovation came in 2002 when the south-side of Autzen was expanded, adding 12,000 seats and a luxury press boxes to the stadium.
Rated as one of the top destinations to watch college football, Autzen’s sellout crowd has ripped and roared for 79 straight sellouts and counting, a record that has involved home winning streaks of both 21 and 23 games, respectively.
Reigning in numerous accolades from players, coaches, and the media, Autzen is truly in a league of its own.
Here are 5 reasons why.
“In 2007 when we played at Autzen stadium for College Game Day, the noise was so loud that when I was in the huddle I could not hear the play being called and had to actually read Nate Longshore’s lips to get the call.
If I didn’t understand what he was saying I had to ask, Guard, Noris Malele to relay it to me, which required him to be about 2 inches from my ear and scream as loud as he can. Can you imagine being in a sea of green and yellow, essentially deaf to all sound?” - Mike Tepper, former Cal offensive tackle
If you have never heard the rumors about nor understand the quote from Mr. Tepper, Autzen stadium is one of the loudest venues in all of professional sports.
Says Keith Jackson of ABC Sports:
“Per square yard, the loudest stadium in the history of the planet.”
Unlike many college football stadiums that are build on normal ground, Auzten was essentially built into a hill, providing the unique and unintended effect of having noise reverberate back onto the field. Added to this acoustic pleasure is the fact that fans sit right on top of the action.
With steep seats and a sideline that spans 10 feet from the crowd (if that), the raucous fans of Oregon are able to make their voices quite literally heard, sometimes to the tune of over 120 decibels. In fact, the loudest noise in Autzen Stadium was recorded at 127.2 decibels against USC in 2007, well above the threshold of pain.
While Husky fans may be able to boast that they have “recorded” the loudest roar at 135 decibels, it is the duration of the roar that really places Autzen above all others. The noise in Autzen never stops when the other team is on offense.
From the first whistle to the last fog horn, Autzen fills the Eugene air with ear shattering noise for 60 straight minutes.
To sum up the noise created by Autzen stadium, none said it better than a Michigan Daily columnist after Michigan’s trip to Eugene in 2003:
“Autzen’s 59,000 strong make the Big House collectively sound like a pathetic whimper. It’s louder than any place I’ve ever been, and that includes The Swamp at Florida, The Shoe in Columbus, and Death Valley at Louisiana State. Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die.”
“You know, the noise is one aspect, but you can feel the intensity of their crowd.” – Pete Carroll, former Head Coach of USC.
Without the ravenous fans that inhabit Autzen stadium, it would not produce the earth shattering noise that it is so well-known for.
Though they are rated as some of the most hated fans in the Pac 12, Oregon fans provide for the best atmosphere on a college gameday as well as for the best home field advantage in all of college sports.
More than anything, Oregon fans are funny, relentless, and intelligent. They come to games equipped with chants and signs that demoralize other players and can go from thunderous roars when the other team is on offense to as quite as a butterfly flying when the Ducks move down the field.
No matter if their team is up by 20 or down by 30, the Duck faithful will be there for their team.
Say what you want about them, Oregon fans are some of the best in the business.
The Duck and the Motorcycle
Before every home game, the first glimpse of the loud and passionate atmosphere of Autzen Stadium that fans get to experience comes when The Duck (not Puddles, as many may assume) rides out on the back of a custom built Harley Davidson with the Oregon football team and cheerleaders closely following him.
Now that, my friends, is pretty sweet.
After an introduction video that gets everybody ready for the ensuing bloodbath, the engine of the Harley revs as it leads a procession of gallant warriors en route to yet another victory at Auzten Stadium.
Whether it is the roar of the Harley or the booming of cheers that follows shortly after, the Oregon Ducks procession onto the field is quite a sight to behold.
While there have been many great plays throughout Duck football history, none are held in higher regard than what is commonly known as “The Pick”.
Sure, Casey Matthews‘ play to punch the ball out of Cam Newton’s hands in the BCS National Championship was amazing, but it pales in comparison to “The Pick”.
Ranked #9 in the nation coming into the game and fresh off a victory over powerhouse Miami, the University of Washington Huskies came into Autzen Stadium riding a hot streak and looking to thwart their rivals from the South. The Ducks, however, would have none of it.
Down 24-20 in the 4th quarter, the Huskies, led by Damon Huard, impressively marched down the field en route to excellent field position with plenty of time left on the clock.
Now on the nine yard line and striking terror into the hearts of every Duck fan in attendance, Huard dropped back to pass and connected — with Kenny Wheaton — of the Oregon Ducks.
Wheaton would then carry the ball down the field as tens of thousands of Ducks fans jumped and cheered him on all the way to the end zone. Jerry Allen, the voice of the Ducks for many years, could be heard throughout the land screaming, “Kenny Wheaton’s gonna score! Kenny Wheaton’s gonna score!”
Kenny Wheaton had just intercepted Huard and returned it for a touchdown to put the Ducks up 31-20 and seal the game.
Not only did “The Pick” aid in sending the Ducks to a Pac-10 Championship and Rose Bowl appearance that year, it completely reshaped the face of football in the northwest.
Oregon was no longer a spit-on program. It was finally ready to play with the big boys.
Since “The Pick”, Oregon, instead of Washington, has dominated northwest football and the Pac-12 while also rising into national prominence. They have riddled off eight straight victories over their bitter rivals and have established supremacy along the I-5 corridor.
Before every home game, the Ducks replay this monumental event in Duck history in order to show themselves how far they come and immortalize what is truly the greatest moment in Duck football history.
For those of you who did not know, the cult classic movie Animal House starring John Belushi was filmed at the University of Oregon. One of the most famous scenes from that was the “Shout!” scene performed by Otis Day and the Knights.
To pay tribute to their Hollywood relationship, the Duck faithful participate in their own version of shout in-between the third and fourth quarters of each home game.
While it is no Jump Around, the Autzen faithful are always pumped when they get to stand up and shout for their favorite team. As it has gained more and more steam across the years, the Shout tradition is quickly becoming one of the best traditions during games at Autzen Stadium.
Autzen has come a long ways since it was first built in 1967.
Once home to lowly teams that could not seem to ever find wins, the monster that is Autzen now hosts one of the best teams in all of college football.
Year-in and year-out it is one of the top places to go to watch a sporting event and this list pays just a small tribute to the many amenities that make Autzen, Autzen.
You see, Autzen is not just a football stadium. Throughout the years, it has become it’s own individual entity; it’s own life force.
Autzen Stadium has surpassed all expectations and become one of the greatest traditions in itself. As the years go on and stadiums come and go, the Autzen Zoo will always remain as one of the best in all of sporting venues.