The date: September 8, 2007
The matchup: Oregon (1-0) at Michigan (0-1)
The stakes: The newfangled spread offense taking on the bluebloods. (At the time, this game seemed more symbolic than important. Oregon was coming off of a 7-6 season, and Michigan had just lost to Appalachian State.)
The back story: In an effort to shake things up after a shaky year, Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti had brought in offensive savant Chip Kelly from New Hampshire. After a 48-27 win over Houston, the Ducks had an opportunity to show off their new system in front of 100K in the Big House and a national audience. The audition went rather well.
As far as symbolism goes, it’s hard to top this.
The box score: From GoDucks.
We know the rest of the story. You can read the full 50 Best* chapter here. Oregon charged all the way to No. 2 in the polls and appeared a surefire BCS Championship game competitor until Heisman favorite Dennis Dixon tore up his knee in November. But Kelly’s offense captured the imagination and continued to do so in 2009, when he took over as head coach.