The second ranked Ducks dispatched then No. 22 Arizona 49-0 on Saturday night for a 7:30 kickoff, it is again a 7:30 this Saturday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle against Washington State. Oregon returns home the following Saturday, October 6th, with the Washington Huskies at 7:30.
Oregon Director of Athletics Rob Mullens wrote a letter to the fans on GoDucks.com about the late kickoff times:
Dear Duck Fan,
Thank you for your continued support of Oregon Athletics. Football season is off to a great start and with the win last Saturday night over Arizona, we have leapfrogged over LSU to the #2 overall ranking and the national spotlight continues to shine bright.
With the news today ESPN selected the Washington game for a 7:30 p.m. PT kickoff, we have heard from concerned fans, particularly those who travel to Eugene, about television driving an increased number of night games at Autzen Stadium. While the Pac-12 has outstanding television partners providing desired exposure for our programs, we are sympathetic to the hardship night games place on fans who travel from out of area. Prior to the Washington announcement we were in communication with ESPN and the Pac-12, lobbying vigorously for an earlier kickoff given it will be our third consecutive 7:30 p.m. start. This television window for ESPN and college football fans has one of the strongest audiences and incredible national exposure for our program, and through our television agreements with the Pac-12, ESPN does have this contractual right to select this time slot.
With success comes increased national interest and television exposure, which includes night games instead of day football. The Oregon brand drives television ratings, as last season three of the top ten regular season broadcasts in college football involved us, thanks to a nationwide following. The networks have invested generously in Pac-12 football and we support this direction and believe the Ducks have earned this national stage. Our broadcast partners will always select the game it deems most interesting, likely to draw the best ratings and often involving teams playing well. With our run of three consecutive BCS bowl appearances and high ranking again this season, we will continue to be very desirable for the top college football television windows by our broadcast partners.
Ideally, we would choose to play our games earlier in the day so our great fans all over the region could travel easily. With this in mind, we will continue to advocate on your behalf regarding game times.
We are looking forward to the game this Saturday at Washington State. We have an opportunity to make CenturyLink Field virtually a home game, and show yet another national television audience, the strength of our passionate fan base. The Autzen atmosphere against Arizona was electric after dark, and we know regardless of the time of day, we will always have the best homefield advantage in college football.
We will see you back at Autzen on October 6th in front of a national television audience on ESPN, who is a great partner for the Pac-12 Conference. As always, we appreciate your continued support. You are the best fans in college football.