Monday, November 7, 2011
Watch out for poor ole Oregon
By Ted Miller
To paraphrase one of the great lines in cinematic history: Nobody puts Oregon in a corner.
Of course, that's going to seem to happen this week. Stanford is the national title contender. Andrew Luck is the Lord of the Dance. The big show is on the Farm, where ESPN's College GameDay is making its first visit.
The inescapable angle this week: How did Stanford, the most elite university playing FBS football, go from 1-11 in 2006 to a member of college football's super-elite?
Meanwhile, there's Oregon. Poor ole Oregon.
They're the under-Ducks this week. They're supposed to be the launching point for Stanford's "Hello world" moment. Imagine Ducks coach Chip Kelly and his running back LaMichael James on their hands and knees, each supporting one of Luck's feet as he basks in heavenly sunbeams and an angelic chorus.
Luck while holding up his bronze, stiff-arm trophy on Dec. 10: "I want to thank my mom and dad, my teammates, Coach Shaw, Coach Harbaugh, the Pac-12 blog -- you're awesome, Ted -- and the football gods for putting lightning in my arm. Oh, and Oregon. Thanks for letting me light you up and get a date with LSU for the national title. Tigers... I AM COMING FOR YOUUUU!"
Poor ole Oregon.
Who's going to bother to remember that Oregon is the two-time defending conference champions, winners of 18 conference games in a row and that winning streak includes a 52-31 whipping of Stanford last fall?
Who's going to note that Oregon gained 335 yards -- 95 rushing -- against LSU's MANLY MAN DEFENSE that held Alabama -- in overtime! -- to 295 yards (96 rushing)? Who's going to say, hey, did you know that Oregon's dinky little Pac-12 defense held LSU to 273 yards, not much more than ALABAMA's MANLY MAN DEFENSE, which held the Tigers to 239?
No one will say or write that because there's the SEC, there's Oklahoma State and there's Andrew Luck and there's just no room for Oregon to fit in. Sorry, Ducks. College football is all full this week with other things. Maybe it will take note of the Ducks funky uniforms if they are funky enough.
Oregon is not only going to beat Stanford, it's going to make a statement: "Folks, enough jibber-jabber. We're the team that can take down LSU and the Mad Hatter."
You know all that post-game talk about how LSU dominated Oregon? It's just silly talk not held up by the facts of the game.
Oregon averaged 3.4 yards per rush against LSU. Alabama averaged 3.1 yards per rush against LSU. LSU averaged 3.6 yards per rush against Oregon. Guess what LSU averaged against ALABAMA's MANLY MAN DEFENSE? If you said 3.6 yards per rush, you get to feel awesome about yourself for 10 seconds.
Alabama and LSU were even in turnovers. Wonder how things might have been different if one -- or the other -- team lost the turnover battle 4-1?
You know: As Oregon did to LSU.
A rematch between Alabama and LSU? Pfft. The real question is what might have happened if Oregon didn't commit four of its 10 turnovers this season in the opener against LSU.
Further, I noticed something as I watched Oregon play Washington this past weekend. The Ducks defense is pretty salty.
On the road, the Ducks held Washington to 17 points and 278 yards. That same Huskies offense scored 38 points and piled 420 yards at Nebraska and had scored at at least 30 in every game, save the visit to Stanford, when it scored 21 and gained 430 yards.
Oregon ranks 26th in the nation in scoring defense (20.78) supporting an offense that ranks last in the nation in time of possession -- by a a minute and a half. Sure, it gives up some yards, but its yards per play -- 4.79 -- is the same as Virginia Tech, which ranks 12th in the nation in total defense. In fact, the Ducks yards per play is equal to or better than 10 defenses that rank in the nation's top-25 and is comparable to five others.
(And, let's pause for a moment to pay respect to just how good Alabama's defense is: 3.26 yards per play. Extraordinary).
Is Oregon's defense going to throttle Stanford? No. Alabama's or LSU's defense wouldn't throttle the Cardinal either.
But it's been taking notes, seeing some things that give the Cardinal trouble, watching some key injuries pile up (WR Chris Owusu, TE Zach Ertz, OT Cameron Fleming). Stanford averages 48.2 points per game and its season-low is 37.
The Ducks are going to hold Luck and the Cardinal to 30. Maybe 32.
And they are going to score 35.
Then, as the upsets and shockers pile up, and Oregon clicks in to No. 2 in the BCS standings on Dec. 4 (sending Boise State fans into an apoplectic rage), LSU will get a rematch in New Orleans.
Only it's going to be Oregon, not Alabama.
Of course, I may have just had a bad burrito for lunch.