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Sunday, November 30, 2008
Oregon steals Civil War spotlight with big plays


Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

 
 Tom Hauck/Getty Images
 Jeremiah Johnson ran for 219 yards and a score for the Ducks and Oregon all but crushed Oregon State's hopes of going to the Rose Bowl with a 65-38 victory Saturday.

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- What came out of the Oregon locker room minutes after the Ducks rumbled through Oregon State's Rose Bowl plans was mostly predictable: It was about us, not them.

One way to make the predictable post-game locker room chatter resonate, however, is to actually make it about you and not them. And the Ducks made it all about their super-special selves by putting on an extraordinary offensive show in a 65-38 track meet where they were a lot faster.

They rolled up 694 total yards against the nation's 15th-ranked defense by posting 10 plays of more than 20 yards and eight of more than 35 yards.

"Our offense, obviously, could not be stopped," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti explained.

And that doesn't include defensive touchdowns of 40 and 70 yards.

The Ducks rushed for 385 yards against a defense that previously yielded just 112 yards per game. The Ducks passed for 309 yards against a defense that previously yielded just 178 yards per game.

And as fancy as the Ducks were, they didn't turn the ball over.

"I don't know how they make these impossible plays," Oregon strong safety Patrick Chung said. "One pass, T-Scott is gone. One block, Jeremiah is gone. It's an explosive offense."

"T-Scott" is receiver Terence Scott who hauled in a 76-yard touchdown pass that made the count 51-31 early in the fourth quarter.

"Jeremiah" is running back Jeremiah Johnson, whose 83-yard touchdown run overshadowed his 79-yard run that didn't go for a touchdown. Johnson needed just 17 carries to net 219 yards, the biggest individual rushing total in the 112-year history of the Civil War.

While Oregon has run well all season -- its 268 yards rushing per game ranked sixth in the nation -- it's the recent development of the passing game that has led to 120 points in the last two matchups.

Sophomore quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, a first-year JC transfer who began the preseason at No. 5 on the depth chart, completed 11 of 17 for 274 yards with three touchdowns.

"Everybody was up in arms a couple of weeks ago -- everyone was booing him -- but he doesn't pay attention to that," offensive coordinator Chip Kelly said. "He has as strong an arm and as quick release as anybody I've ever seen."

But this was Masoli's and the offense's best all-around show of the season. In previous critical Pac-10 showdowns vs. USC and California, the Ducks only scored 26 points combined.

"I think we were lacking continuity," offensive guard Mark Lewis said. "We had all the pieces in place but we may not have trusted each other as much."

Suffice it to say, there was trust in a gleeful locker room.

The Ducks, who will go to the Holiday Bowl unless UCLA upsets USC next weekend, ended a two-game losing streak in the series and won in Corvallis for the first time since 1996. OSU would still go to the Rose Bowl if UCLA beats USC.

Oregon State trailed 37-17 at the half and narrowed the margin to 13 points three times in the second half. But they couldn't stop the Ducks.

"I don't have anything I can put my finger on or any excuses -- nothing," Beavers coach Mike Riley said. "Oregon played better than the Beavers tonight."

The Beavers piled up 463 yards themselves, but only 89 of those yards came on the ground. With running back Jacquizz Rodgers on the sidelines, the Ducks made OSU one-dimensional.

"That was a big loss for them," Chung said. "He's a very good running back."

But this ended up not being about the Beavers, whose fans started bolting when tight end Ed Dickson hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass from Masoli with four minutes left.

The Ducks stole the spotlight.

Moreover, after endless national chatter about how down the Pac-10 is this season, there were a lot of eager grins among the Ducks about the Holiday Bowl, which will be played against the No. 3 team from the Big 12.

Fancy Big 12 offenses? We shall see.

"Everything is starting to plug into place for us," Lewis said. "It will be interesting to see how the Holiday Bowl turns out."