With the College Football Championship occurring on Monday, here is a flashback of Ducks and Buckeyes who now wear midnight green...
The last time the Eagles visited AT&T Stadium, they left with a 33-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in tow. This time it won't be so.
On Monday night, the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes will compete in the first-ever title game of the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes will look for their first National Championship in 13 years; the Ducks will look for their first one in program history.
And quite a few Eagles players and coaches have rooting interests in the outcome of the game, so much so that they'll be heading to the game to take in the sights and root for their respective college teams - garnet and silver versus green and yellow.
Ohio State alumnus Malcolm Jenkins played in a pair of National Championship games during his time as a Buckeye. He lost both games, recording an interception in the second one, a 38-24 loss to LSU. Ohio State hasn't won a national title since 2002, so Jenkins is hungry for his alma mater to snag a long-awaited victory Monday night.
Jenkins is in Texas with his wife and daughter to watch the game in person, and he plans on meeting up with some former teammates and college friends before the game to catch up and get ready for the matchup.
The veteran safety last played college ball six years ago, but he vividly remembers the excitement and emotion that the big stage brought.
"It was crazy," Jenkins said. "It's your first time as a collegiate athlete being on a stage that big, where you have a media day where you go to the stadium and there's media from all around the world. The whole day all these different guys are on these different pedestals, answering questions ... it's really the first time having that much attention down to one game.
"You were out there for the whole week, and then finally, once you get to the game, it's still just a game and all the distractions slow down and you get back to football."
Jenkins said the second time around was very different because he and his teammates knew to expect the enormity of the situation and focus on the football aspect instead.
Former Oregon wide receiver Will Murphy won't be able to make it to the game Monday night, but he'll be watching his Ducks in his home state of Oregon with friends and family.
Murphy was part of the Oregon team, coached by head coach Chip Kelly, who will also be attending Monday's game with other members of the Eagles' coaching staff, that faced off with Auburn University in January 2011 in the BCS National Championship. He remembers what it was like to play on the big stage as well; like Jenkins, the first words out of his mouth about the experience are, "It was crazy."
"I'll never forget the feeling of coming of the tunnel into that game," Murphy explained. "It was an experience that was unmatched by any other college football experience, that's for sure."
Rookie defensive end Taylor Hart was just a freshman that year, new to the entire college game and thrust into the spotlight, and he too was taken by how big everything surrounding the game was.
"It was kind of a surreal experience for me, as a first-timer," Hart said. "I got to play, that was my freshman year, and it was a great experience to go to the highest point that you can in college football."
Jenkins said that he hasn't received any trash-talking text messages from his teammates, a number of whom - Hart and Murphy included - played for the Ducks. He thinks they're a little nervous about Monday's matchup.
"Those guys have been pretty quiet," Jenkins said, wryly. He thinks they have every reason to be nervous, and said a win for his former team would be a huge accomplishment for the program.
"To get the win is going to be huge," Jenkins said with confidence. "We've been knocking at the door, and for as much as people love to hate Ohio State, we've been good for a long time so it would be a huge win for the program, the entire state of Ohio, and all of Buckeye Nation."
But Murphy isn't so sure. He's been talking to Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost, discussing what the season's been like for the Ducks, and he's been impressed with what he's heard.
"Just hearing of the stories from that team and how hard they've been working and how much they really put into it since last offseason, I think it would just be huge for those kids, not to mention the program in general," he said.
It should be an excellent showdown between the Ducks (13-1) and the Buckeyes (13-1), and one that will establish bragging rights for Jenkins, or a host of former Ducks, for the entirety of next season.
Suffice to say, a lot is at stake.