Mailbag: Revisiting Oregon-LSU

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
5:34
PM ET
Happy Friday.

Nine out of 10 dentists recommend my Twitter feed for whiter teeth and fresher breath.

And here's that 10th dentist.

To the notes!

Greg from Hillsboro, Ore., writes: 4 turnovers. 12 penalties. That had a HUGE stake in how the Oregon-LSU game turned out. Now consider: Oregon's **offense** put up 27 pts on that LSU defense. I think we will find over the course of the season that LSU has the best defense in the country.I'd wager THAT offensive output vs LSU's defense will cause the national media pundit know-it-alls to see that game in a new light.

Rotfogel from Oakland writes: I'm not sold on the Oregon Ducks as being belonging in the same sentence with Stanford...not this year. I believe we'll be seeing them lose at least 3 more times this year. The talent level just is not there and we can't assume they'll just magically play like they did last year, not sans talent. Cal should be the #2 team in the North this year...the reason?...NO MORE KEVIN RILEY!!!!

Hilston from Slidell, La., writes: The Tigers exposed your duckies. how'd that crow taste?

Ted Miller: Hilston, I picked LSU to win. But I've been wrong so many times that I can tell you crow tastes a bit like chicken and isn't so bad with some hot sauce and a cold drink.

But all this opining on the Ducks -- their worthy or unworthiness -- got me to recalling my reaction to the LSU-Mississippi State game. To put it simply, that was a brutal butt-kicking, even if the Bulldogs' scheme is way, way smarter that poor ole Chip Kelly's.

Oregon's offensive line lost the battle to LSU's defensive front. No question. But the Bulldogs' offensive line didn't look like it belonged on the same field with LSU. I sort of felt sorry for those guys. And if I were an Oregon fan watching the Bulldogs, ranked 20th in the preseason, getting completely bullied -- at home no less -- I certainly would have felt better. That sort of play-by-play dominance by the Tigers was nothing like the LSU-Oregon game.

So much goes into a football game and how it turns out. Ask Washington and Nebraska fans about the intangibles of their teams' three-game series, and the recollections will be so skewed you'd wonder how they could have watched the same three games.

So we have LSU-Oregon. The interpretation of this game has spiraled from "LSU decisively won" to "LSU manhandled." The latter is simply wrong. LSU won the battle on both sides of the line of scrimmage, but it certainly wasn't "men against boys," as it was with Mississippi State.

But don't just believe my words. Consider the numbers.
  • Oregon outgained LSU 335 yards to 273.
  • And that wasn't all about the "make it respectable" drives in the fourth quarter. Oregon also had more yards at halftime: 167 to 100. Both teams had 46 rushing yards at the break.
  • LSU outrushed Oregon 175-95. The Tigers averaged 3.6 yards per rush. The Ducks averaged 3.4.
  • The Ducks had three scoring drives of over 60 yards, including a 19-play, 79-yarder. LSU had one.
  • The Ducks were 9 of 19 on third down. LSU was 6 of 15.
  • LSU had zero sacks. Oregon had one.
  • LSU had six tackles for a loss. Oregon had five.
  • Oregon had 12 penalties for 95 yards. LSU had five for 47.
  • Oregon had four turnovers, including a fumbled punt that was returned for a short TD. LSU had one turnover.

And if LSU fans think I'm trying to reduce the Tigers impressive 40-27 win, please, I've been ranking you No. 1 since then.

My larger point: LSU is better than Oregon, but Oregon is still good. I'd wager top-10 good, maybe even top-five. The only SEC teams I wouldn't pick the Ducks to beat would be LSU and Alabama. And, Rotfogel, if Oregon loses three more games this year, I'd be completely shocked.


DC Dawg from Washington D.C. writes: seriously dude, you gotta get back in touch with your purple and gold side! Cal may actually put up 28 this weekend (though I doubt it), but the Dawgs are gonna put up at least 40. They put up nearly that many on Nebraska, and the Cal defense AIN'T Nebraska. Watch for Polk to get 150 on the ground, and Price to spread the ball all over the yard. I see 3 TDs thru the air and 2 on the ground. Add a couple of Nick Folk FGs and it's good night, not-so-Golden Bears!

Ted Miller: My purple and gold side? You mean this?

Your optimism and enthusiasm is certainly a good thing. So I feel bad sounding like a party pooper.

Cal's defense is better than Nebraska's. Washington scored 30 and 40 points at home against Eastern Washington and Hawaii. I'd be shocked if they hang 40 on the Bears, or if Polk rushes for 150 yards.

But maybe I'll be wrong and get a delicious plate of crow.


Matt from Gilbert, Ariz., writes: How do you figure Osweiler is on the spot against USC? That offensive line had no answer for Illinois' blitzing. Sure, Oz held the ball too long on occasion, but that happens when your offensive line commits 5 penalties and gets zero push putting you on constant 2nd- and 3rd-and-long situations. And shame on Erickson for throwing Oz under the bus at his press conference. He's obviously protecting more fragile egos among his (otherwise veteran) offensive line.

Ted Miller: I don't necessarily see my my "On the spot" videos -- an important part of everyone's Wednesday, I'm sure -- as being negative, though they sometimes could be interpreted that way, such as with Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who's made his fanbase restless.

So why did I put Osweiler "on the spot"? Osweiler has become the unquestioned leader of the the Sun Devils. He was the biggest single reason they beat Missouri, and he made a number of key mistakes that cost them at Illinois.

In other words, in two competitive games, it's fair to say the Sun Devils have gone as Osweiler has gone.

That means, with USC coming to town owning an 11-game winning streak against ASU, the Sun Devils will be looking for Osweiler to be more like he was against Missouri and less like he was against Illinois. And, considering I picked the Sun Devils to win, I must think he's going to flourish "on the spot."


Roger from The Woodlands, Texas writes: AFTER A YEAR TO THINK ABOUT IT: LEAVING IT AT 12 IS THE RIGHT MOVE Ted,The move to 16 would have been a mistake. Look at the troubles 16 members caused for the old WAC in the mid-1990s. Delusion of quality (on several fronts) was the reasoning for the group that formed the Mountain West. Plus UTexas is toxic. Their self-centeredness ruined the SWC and now the Big 12. We don't need UTexas' baggage or are obligated to solve the Big 12's problems. In many ways you're defined by the company you keep.Besides I don't see the Big 10 ever adding 4 teams without significantly lowering of their standards.Let the Big 10 and Pac 12 make a pact to stay at 12 members, keep the Rose Bowl alliance and let the others continue to trip over themselves trying to catch-up (just like when they created the BCS to compete against a stand-alone Rose Bowl which is still the most compelling naturally created bowl story when it doesn't involve TX schools). THERE IS SOMETHING TO BE SAID ABOUT TRADITION!!!

Ted Miller: Many folks share your thinking. The big question with Texas is -- and will continue to be -- whether it's willing to become an equal part of a strong unified whole, or if will continue to insist on special status. Even if Texas agreed to play by Pac-12 rules today, would it feel the same in, say, five years?

Texas continues to role the dice on its self-regard. We'll see if that works out for it.

As the Pac-12 stands today, it still feels like the Pac-10 to me, in that Utah and Colorado feel like good fits. (Do you guys agree or disagree?). I feel like the expansion that has happened has enhanced the conference, not changed its culture or distinctness

A Pac-16 would make the conference richer, but it would certainly change things. I think it could have worked and worked well, but only if it was formed as a 16-part unified whole, with no special status for any program.


Scott from Phoenix writes: I know that this may sound harsh or cold, but what about the idea of the PAC 12 adding OK and OK State and dropping Ore State and Wash State? Both of those universities are in all honesty more set up for a WAC level conference. This way, you could increase the competition of the league and TV revenues....yet not have to deal with Texas. It should also be noted that I am an alum from Oregon State.....even though it might hurt to be dropped, I am realistic about their value.

Ted Miller: Again, the Pac-12 is not going to drop Oregon State and Washington State. Or anyone else.

You do realize that Oregon State won the Fiesta Bowl in 2001 and owns one of the nation's best baseball and gymnastics programs. The Beavers aren't lightweights.

And Washington State has played in two Rose Bowls since 1997. How many conference programs not named USC can claim that?


Chris from Tucson writes: would you say that this is the year that Chris Peterson of Boise St. finally gets plucked by a PAC-12 school? Schools like UCLA and Arizona should try and capitalize on the changing landscape in football by getting a coach like Peterson. Arizona or UCLA can guarantee Peterson a spot in football's richest conference and in turn they get a coach who's beaten Oregon and Oklahoma.

Ted Miller: While UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel is on a very hot seat, I don't think Arizona coach Mike Stoops is.

As for Petersen, he's a top-five coach. If UCLA opts to make a change, it should open its bank vaults for him. That would likely mean a $3 or $4 million salary. So we're talking perhaps three times the $1.25 million Neuheisel makes. And Petersen should be guaranteed around $2.5 milion to pay his new staff. Further, he should ask for guarantees on major facilities upgrades.

That is actually not a lot of money in today's FBS culture, particularly when you factor in the cost of living in LA.

Will UCLA make that commitment? My guess is no.

Further, my impression of Petersen is he's not wholly motivated by money. He really seems to love coaching Boise State. And he knows that if the changing college football landscape left Boise State in an untenable position, he'd be able to get his pick of jobs.

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