Commentary

Ducks ready for LSU rematch

Originally Published: November 12, 2011
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

STANFORD, Calif. -- De'Anthony Thomas didn't know any better. If he did, the true freshman wouldn't have said publicly what his coach and older Oregon teammates might only say privately:

He wants a BCS championship rematch with No. 1 LSU.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Tony AvelarChip Kelly isn't looking too far down the road ... yet.

Thomas not only wants a rematch, but he said if the regular season ends with only one unbeaten team (LSU) then Oregon is the logical and rightful choice to play the Tigers in a rematch.

"I wouldn't want to play us," said Thomas.

He has a point. Actually, Oregon had 53 points in its surprisingly easy 53-30 victory against undefeated -- oops, that's past tense now -- Stanford on Saturday evening.

The Ducks basically put the Tree in a woodchipper. They ended Stanford's undefeated season and any chance of a national championship appearance. They ended Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's Heisman Trophy front-runner status. And maybe, just maybe, they ended Alabama's claim as the best one-loss team in the country.

"We scored the most points on LSU," said Thomas, referring to Oregon's 40-27 season-opening loss to LSU on Sept. 3. "Alabama came up with six points [last week versus the Tigers]. We scored the most points, so I feel like we deserve another chance to play against them again."

Kids.

The Oregon running back wasn't aware that Ducks coach Chip Kelly, as well as every other U of O player asked the same question, had politely deflected the What-If scenario involving LSU.

"If someone wants to discuss us this week, it means nothing if we go out and don't play very well against USC and lose," Kelly said. "We've lost a game and if we lose two, we're not in any discussion."

"I can't really worry about playing somebody else," said running back LaMichael James, who moved himself into the Heisman discussion after a 146-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Cardinal. "The next opponent is USC."

Thomas wasn't as diplomatic -- not that you can blame him. He can read a scoreboard. He can see the rankings. And right now, there are only three unbeaten teams left in the country: LSU, Oklahoma State and Houston.

Nothing against the Cougars and quarterback Case Keenum, but they're not playing in the national title game. They might be in New Orleans in early January, but it will be for the Sugar Bowl, not the BCS championship.

LSU still has Arkansas at home and then, presumably, the SEC championship game, but I like their chances.

Oklahoma State, which scored only five fewer points against Texas Tech on Saturday than the Cowboys' basketball team scored the night before in its season opener (66 to 71), seems unstoppable. But the Cowboys still have the Bedlam game left at home against Oklahoma. OSU will be favored, but …

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck and David Shaw
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesStar QB Andrew Luck is gone, but the offensive schemes of coach David Shaw should keep Stanford competitive against USC in Week 3.

If Saturday taught us anything, it is this: Being favored means bupkus.

Unbeaten Boise State was favored at home against TCU … and lost.

Unbeaten Stanford was favored at home against Oregon … and lost.

So it's entirely possible the Ducks could wake up Dec. 4 with an 11-1 record. And Bama could wake up with only one loss. Same goes for Oklahoma State. And if that happens, then be prepared for a verbal fistfight between Tide and Ducks supporters.

"I think we're right back in it," said Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas, who needed only 11 completions to throw for 155 yards and three touchdowns.

Thomas was talking about the national title equation. The other Thomas -- De'Anthony, who's 41-yard TD catch and run in the second quarter took, oh, about the time it takes to say, "Quack" -- talked about an actual national title game.

"I feel like if we get another shot at them again, I feel like it will be a better game," he said.

The other Ducks wouldn't say as much, but Stanford coach David Shaw would.

"They are not a good team," said Shaw of Oregon. "They are a great team. They are very good. That LSU game, I watched it probably about four times this week. They don't turn the ball over against LSU, they might be ranked No. 1 in the nation right now."

Oregon had three lost fumbles and an interception against the Tigers. They also outgained LSU.

But is a 40-27 loss on a neutral field better than Bama's 9-6 loss to the Tigers at Tuscaloosa?

Eh … coin flip.

"We'll see what happens," Oregon defensive end Terrell Turner said. "If we end up playing them later, that's cool, too."

Stanford doesn't have to worry about these kind of possibilities. Oregon took some the mystery out of the Cardinal's postseason plans. Barring another loss, Stanford could be headed to the Fiesta Bowl.

After the way the Ducks exposed every Stanford flaw, that's probably where it belongs. The Ducks were faster, quicker, more athletic.

They ended the first quarter at minus-1 total yards. They ended the game with 387.

[+] EnlargeLaMichael James
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesOnce LaMichael James got going, there was no slowing him down.

They tormented Luck into an un-Heisman-y 27-of-41 for 271 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He was also sacked three times. That's only one fewer than he had been sacked all season.

"Worst game of the year, I guess," said Luck.

Even the Stanford Stadium maintenance crew had a bad game. They grew the grass longer this week, all in hopes of trying to slow down Oregon.

How'd that work out?

"I don't know, they can't beat us straight up," said De'Anthony Thomas.

Added Kelly: "I was kind of surprised that a school like this that they didn't have a lawnmower."

They don't have an undefeated record, either.

Alabama was rooting for a TCU win against Boise, and it got it. Alabama was rooting for an Oregon win against Stanford, and it got it.

Oregon's response: Be careful what you wish for.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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