NCF Nation: Huskies-Ducks-100612

Oregon has no, er, rival in the Pac-12

October, 7, 2012

EUGENE, Ore. -- There was just a smidgeon of tension late in Chip Kelly's post-game news conference after Oregon whipped Washington 52-21. Reporters tried to draw out an iota of special emotion from Kelly in reaction to a ninth consecutive victory -- each by at least 17 points -- over the Ducks' archrival, but Kelly wasn't biting.

Kelly has repeatedly told reporters that every game is the same, meriting the same complete commitment to preparation and focus. This has devolved into the "every game is a rivalry game" quip from him to all questions on the Ducks' heated and historical rivalries.

"You can shrug your shoulders but, I'll tell you what, our formula for success has worked every single time," Kelly said. "Every single game is the most important game we play."

Kelly did admit such an approach wasn't good for reporters' copy. And you could, perhaps, quibble with his refusal to at least humor on occasion the feelings his fan base hold for the Huskies, such as not announcing that Washington coach "Steve Sarkisian is a good friend of mine," the very idea of which will make some Oregon fans cringe.

But you can't argue with the results. On a day when No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 LSU and No. 5 Georgia crashed and burned, the Ducks made another ranked foe look like a Pinto trying to keep up with a Lamborghini. They further solidified their standing as the nation's No. 2 team, which puts them in position to play for the national title for a second time in three seasons.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Don RyanOregon coach Chip Kelly reached 40 wins faster than the likes of Bear Bryant and Bobby Bowden.
The simple fact is this: Though we've only reached midseason, Oregon already has distinguished itself among its Pac-12 brethren. Only the Ducks and Oregon State remain unbeaten. Oregon dispatched Arizona 49-0, a team that pushed the Beavers and Stanford to the limit in thrilling games. And Oregon now has whipped Washington, which beat Stanford. And Stanford beat USC.

Yes, the Pac-12 blog is on record -- repeatedly -- as being against the transitive property of college football, of comparing various results of games and reaching grand conclusions. But it's hard to ignore what Oregon has done so far compared to its rivals. Er, other Pac-12 teams.

The Ducks' average margin of victory is 32.3 points. Their closest decisions was in Week 2 against Fresno State, a 42-25 decision. They are playing well on both sides of the ball. They've reacted to injuries to major players with little more than a shrug: "Next guy in," they all say.

That preseason concern that perhaps redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota wouldn't be up to the pressure and week-to-week demands of being a Pac-12 quarterback? He bounced back from a middling showing in the victory over Washington State by throwing four touchdown passes and showing excellent running skills and pocket presence against Washington.

"He's showed improvement," Kelly said. "That's something awesome about Marcus. Very rarely does he make the same mistake twice."

Oregon led the No. 23 Huskies 21-0 after a quarter following a pick-six from safety Avery Patterson. It was his second in two weeks, and the Ducks now have returned four interceptions for touchdowns, tying a school record.

The 35-7 margin at halftime made it clear that there would be no intrigue. Washington moved the ball well at times, but the Huskies were done in by five turnovers -- two interceptions, three fumbles. They produced one play over 16 yards -- a 28-yard pass. The Ducks, meanwhile, had six plays of 20 or more yards.

If you need further validations of Kelly's concepts, consider this. He is now 40-6 as the Ducks' head coach. He won his 40th game sooner than Bobby Bowden (49), Pop Warner (59), Bear Bryant (57) and Joe Paterno (51).

So, you know, he's ahead of pretty good rivals. Er, company.

Oregon is off this week, but don't say that to Kelly, for this is an "improvement week." After all that improving, the Ducks will turn their focus to a visit to Arizona State on Thursday, Oct. 18. The Sun Devils are playing really well under new coach Todd Graham.

Of course, you know what's coming, don't you?

Said Kelly, "Arizona State is the next rivalry we have."

Video: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

October, 7, 2012

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota talks about the Ducks' 52-21 victory over Washington.

Make it nine in a row for the Oregon Ducks over the Washington Huskies. The Ducks jumped out to a 21-0 lead before pulling away for a 52-21 win. The Ducks have won all nine games by at least 17 points. Here's how it all went down at Autzen.

It was over when: In the first quarter, the Huskies had just made their second-consecutive stop on defense. But the Huskies muffed the ensuing punt and on the next play, De'Anthony Thomas darted for a 16-yard score. It seemed like all the life just got sucked out of Washington as the Ducks put up 21 in the first quarter.

Game ball goes to: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. When he wasn't jumping out of sacks (that was sick athleticism), he was tossing four touchdowns on 15-of-24 passing. He did have one interception early, but bounced back to hit Colt Lyerla twice, Josh Huff and Keanon Lowe for scores.

Second game ball: Nick Aliotti. Oregon's defensive coordinator has this defense playing awfully good ball. The Ducks forced five turnovers and twice stopped the Huskies on fourth down. Most of Washington's 353 yards came in the second half when the game was out of reach.

Stat of the game: 3. Avery Patterson picked off Keith Price in the first quarter and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. The Ducks have now had a pick-six in three straight games.

What it means for Oregon: For the Ducks, they hold serve -- and get some style points along the way -- as other top 10 teams behind them collapse. The number of undefeated teams is dwindling and Oregon is right where it needs to be. If anyone was still awake on the East Coast, they saw a dominating performance on both sides of the ball.

What it means for Washington: Much like their debacle at LSU, the Huskies will have to regroup with No. 13 USC coming to town next week. For as high as they were flying after last week's win over Stanford, this was another throttling by a top-5 team. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has to get the troops to shake this one off.

Halftime: Oregon 35, Washington 7

October, 7, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. -- It appears that Oregon's streak of blowout wins over Washington is going to reach nine.

The Ducks jumped all over Huskies mistakes and own a 35-7 lead at the break.

The Huskies moved the ball fairly well -- Oregon outgained the Huskies 319 to 206 -- but couldn't finish drives, and the Ducks pounced on three turnovers.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota recovered from an early interception to complete 10 of 18 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Washington quarterback Keith Price is 13-of-22 for 115 yards with a pick.

Hard to imagine the Huskies have the weapons to get back into this one. The question might be how ugly things might get.

Washington needs big plays vs. Oregon

October, 6, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. -- At some point, Washington is going to beat its arch-rival Oregon again, but the odds seem stacked against the Huskies tonight.

For one, the Ducks are playing in Autzen Stadium. They are 34-4 at home since Chip Kelly first arrived in 2007 as their offensive coordinator.

Second, the Ducks are again strong on both sides of the ball. Their offense is among the nation's leaders in rushing, scoring and total offense. The defense is better than its numbers suggest, considering its starters have played little in the fourth quarter this year. The Ducks' 4.55 yards per play ranks third in the Pac-12.

The Huskies? They are much better on defense, giving up just under 19.8 points per game -- virtually the same as the Ducks. But they are struggling offensively due to a injury ravaged offensive line that is down three starters from what it thought it would be. The Huskies are scoring 23.3 points per game, which ranks 10th in the conference.

Oregon averages 52.4, tops in the Pac-12 by a wide margin.

So the Ducks are going to need to be much below their average tonight, while the Huskies need much better, for Washington to have a chance.

The key will be big plays that go against Oregon, which is not typically how things go here. The Huskies need to slow the Ducks running game and force redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota to make mistakes passing. And they need to take advantage of those miscues.

The Huskies offense, meanwhile, needs to create some sort of running threat that keeps the Ducks honest, while quarterback Keith Price needs to time to hook up with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and receiver Kasen Williams.

It will help the Huskies that the Ducks, already young at safety due to the season-ending knee injury to John Boyett, might be without weakside linebacker Michael Clay, who was hurt last week against Washington State.

Oregon has been a second-half team under Kelly. It tends to make good adjustments to other teams' schemes and it also wears down opposing defenses with its tempo. That said, if the Huskies can keep things close into the fourth quarter, it's possible that Mariota will feel some pressure, and press as a result.

Perhaps a few Oregon miscues would open a door for the Huskies to end an eight-game losing streak in the series?