Pac-12: Bruins-Ducks-102110

Oregon bludgeons UCLA

October, 22, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. -- The United States of College Football Fans wanted a blockbuster, but Oregon said "whatever" and put on a lousy show. Boring! There was no drama in the Ducks' 60-13 vivisecting of UCLA. There was no suspenseful moment when you sat on the edge of your seat. There was no "Rocky Balboa" getting off the canvas. There was no sports poetry whatsoever. It was just a one-sided brutalizing that probably had mommies and daddies across the country covering their children's eyes.

[+] EnlargeDarron Thomas
Craig Mitchelldyer/US PresswireDarron Thomas completed 22 of 31 passes for 308 yards and three TDs without an interception. He also rushed for 48 yards.
You could almost imagine Ducks coach Chip Kelly walking to midfield among the bloodied Bruins and shouting in his best gladiator voice, "Are you not entertained?"

Well, no. Much of the country probably yawned and went to bed at halftime when it was 32-3, and it was already abundantly clear that UCLA might be able to deliver a whipping at Texas, but it could not stay on the field with the Ducks.

Oregon provided no drama. Instead, it provided clarity. Is this team worthy of being ranked No. 1? Yes. Are the Ducks national title contenders? Yes. If you have eyes, and managed to keep them open for all four quarters, there is no other conclusion to draw about now-7-0 Oregon, owners of an absurdly dominant offense and a defense that is pretty salty, too.

The Ducks piled up 582 yards and held UCLA to just 290. The Ducks averaged 8 yards a play -- nearly double the Bruins' 4.1 -- against a defense that shut down Texas and Houston. Heck, only eight of the Ducks' 73 plays were even third downs.

"The week off was good for us," coach Chip Kelly said.

Was it the Ducks' most complete performance of the year? Kelly shrugged off the question, saying he liked how his team overcame adversity at Tennessee. As for whether this performance might have won over some folks who don't watch the Ducks play much, Kelly said, "That's the same way we performed in all seven games. They should tune in more."

There were a lot of philosophical answers from the Ducks after the game. This is a team that is comfortable being No. 1 because it doesn't really seem to care.

"We don't look at it like we're the top-ranked team," sophomore running back LaMichael James said. "We just look at it like we're the Oregon Ducks."

Wow. Existential. James then asked reporters to try to grab a pebble from his hand. None could. That didn't actually happen, but he did channel Public Enemy by telling a media horde in search of just a little bluster that the Ducks are trying to "not believe the hype."

[+] EnlargeBrandon Bair
Craig Mitchelldyer/US PresswireBrandon Bair and the Oregon defense held UCLA to just six points until a late touchdown. The Ducks forced three turnovers and had three sacks.
Oregon played at ludicrous speed again on offense. James, who briefly terrified Ducks fans by needing to be helped off the field in the first quarter but only had his breath knocked out of him, eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the 14th time in his career with 123 yards on 20 carries with two TDs. But the star of the night was sophomore quarterback Darron Thomas, whose rapid development is astonishing. He completed 22 of 31 passes for a career-high 308 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Ducks came out throwing early, and Thomas completed his first 11 passes.

"You've got to loosen people up, and we've got some really talented receivers," Kelly said of the slightly surprising pass-happy start.

As for the defense, it had 10 tackles for a loss and three sacks and forced three turnovers, giving them 25 takeaways this season.

"Our guys are really playing downhill football," Kelly said.

The Ducks will be going down south to USC on Oct. 30. Based on how well the Trojans played against California in a 48-14 win last weekend, that could be a highly competitive game and a potential stumbling point for a team that probably needs to be perfect to play for the national title. Moreover, USC will have had an extra week to prepare for the Ducks' relentless offense.

"We know we will get everything from them," Kelly said.

The Ducks now wear the target that the Trojans used to own. Oregon is the team everybody wants a piece of. Or thinks they want a piece of.

This was not an entertaining game. But it was hard to not be impressed by the performance.

Video: Oregon's Spencer Paysinger

October, 22, 2010

Oregon linebacker Spencer Paysinger talks about the Ducks' 60-13 win over UCLA, Oregon’s defense and next week’s game against USC.

Instant analysis: Oregon 60, UCLA 13

October, 22, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon rolled UCLA 60-13 on Thursday in the Ducks' most complete performance of the year.

How the game was won: Oregon won with too much of everything -- too much talent, speed, power, offense, defense, rushing, passing. And yellow.

Turning point: UCLA drove to Oregon's 30-yard line on its opening drive, but Richard Brehaut tossed an interception to Ducks safety John Boyett. Then the Ducks quickly drove 90 yards for a TD. Things sorta went the Ducks way thereafter (yes, we typed that same thing at halftime. It's not like there was a new "turning point" after the break).

Stat of the game: Oregon outgained the Bruins 582 to 290.

Player of the game: Oregon QB Darron Thomas completed 22 of 31 passes for 308 yards with three TDs and no interceptions. He also rushed for 48 yards. The first-year starter's TD-INT ratio is now 17:5. Not too shabby.

Unsung heroes of the game: The Ducks' defense turned in a four-quarters performance and receiver Jeff Maehl caught eight passes for 107 yards and a TD.

What it means: It means Oregon, ranked No. 1 in both polls and No. 2 in the BCS standings, continues to be a national title contender. Some folks will dismiss pounding UCLA, but there's no erasing the fact that the Bruins won big at Texas. This was more about how good Oregon is than UCLA's deficiencies (though there certainly are some of those). As for the Bruins, they've now been blown out in consecutive Pac-10 games. That's not a good thing. They face another test of their resiliency.

Record performance: Oregon broke the school scoring record for eight games. But here's the kicker: The Ducks have only played seven games! They've scored 386 points this year. The previous record for eight games was 350 in 2007. Oh, by the way, 60 points is the most Oregon has ever scored against UCLA. And this also was the Ducks' biggest margin of victory in the

Third quarter: Oregon 46, UCLA 6

October, 21, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. -- Prediction: Oregon will win this game.

You don't get that kind of analysis just anywhere, folks. You only get it right here.

Oregon has dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining UCLA 500 yards to 186. It leads 46-6, the only question being if coach Chip Kelly wants to make even MORE of a statement in the fourth quarter.

LaMichael James has his 123 yards and two TDs. The defense has made a statement. QB Darron Thomas looks sharp after a shoulder injury scare at Washington State.

Guess here is a few more Oregon doubters will be won over with this one.

Halftime: Oregon 32, UCLA 3

October, 21, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon is rolling 32-3 at the break. It looks like a national title contender on both sides of the ball.

Turning point: UCLA drove to Oregon's 30-yard line on its opening drive, but Richard Brehaut tossed an interception to Ducks safety John Boyett. Then the Ducks quickly drove 90 yards for a TD. Things sorta went the Ducks way thereafter.

Stat of the half: Oregon has 357 yards at halftime. Texas has 349 total yards against UCLA.

Best player in the half: LaDarron Thomas. Hey, LaMichael James has been his fancy self -- even after giving everyone an injury scare -- but Darron Thomas completed 16 of 20 passes for 220 yards with two TDs in the first half. He also rushed for 39 yards on four carries.

What Oregon needs to do; What UCLA needs to do: Oregon needs to keep the pressure on because -- for better or worse -- a big score will impress folks. It also would be a good thing to be able to post that score with the starters resting in the fourth quarter. As for UCLA, it needs to show heart and keep fighting and see if it can make the final respectable. Seeing that the Bruins arrived in Eugene hoping to shake off a shocking 35-7 loss at California, an ugly final could leave the team reeling.

Oregon rolling; James (whew!) OK

October, 21, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. -- LaMichael James upstaged Oregon's fast start by scaring the Autzen Stadium crowd when he required help to walk off the field.

But James returned, promptly produced a 27-yard run -- his 32nd run of over 20 yards in his two-year career -- and the Ducks lead 22-3 in the second quarter.

There was a collective sigh from the crowd when the Heisman Trophy candidate returned.

James appears headed for 100 yards before the break. He's got 83 yards thus far. But the biggest story might be QB Darron Thomas, who's completed 11 of 12 passes for 133 yards with a TD.

UCLA can't get mired in third-and-long

October, 21, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. -- It's hard to believe UCLA has reinvented one of the worst passing offenses in the nation, even after a bye weekend. Moreover, starting QB Kevin Prince is out tonight against Oregon, making Richard Brehaut the starter.

So the Bruins are going to have to run the ball well. But there's no way they can run every play, so they have to throw some.

The key to sustaining drives -- and keeping the ball away from Oregon's ludicrous speed offense -- is avoiding third-and-long situations, because that's when the Bruins offense has been least effective throwing.

Consider these numbers, though they are based on Prince.

Prince has completed just 36.7 percent of his third-down passes this year and owns an efficiency rating of 51.0.

That ranks 123rd in the nation among 126 QBs with at least 20 passing attempts.

Two words: Not good.

Showtime for Oregon, LaMichael James?

October, 21, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon wants to put on a show tonight against UCLA in order to impress the nation and further validate its national-title contention.

And if the Ducks put on a big show, expect the star to be running back LaMichael James, who can further validate his Heisman Trophy candidacy.

James is the nation's best big-play running back. ESPN Stats & Information, in fact, can prove that, as the chart at right shows.

Since 2009, James has gained 20 yards or more on more than nine percent of his carries, which is the highest percentage among running backs in the FBS in that time frame.

This season, Oregon has 21 rushes of 20 yards or more. The Ducks hit a big run more often than any other team in the country outside of Taylor Martinez and Nebraska.

So, of course, you can expect the UCLA defense to be keying on James. The Bruins might even dare quarterback Darron Thomas to beat them passing, particularly with Thomas coming back from a sprained shoulder that knocked him out of the Washington State game two weeks ago.

But that might not be too wise, because Thomas is at his best going deep in the play-action passing game as the chart at right shows.

So the Bruins have to be smart on defense and mix things up. They can't crowd the line of scrimmage to stop James and the spread-option. And they can't forget Thomas over the top in play-action.