An apology for the Oregon Ducks

Updated: November 4, 2012, 9:15 AM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

LOS ANGELES -- Hi. I'm the computer component of the BCS standings and, well, I'd like to apologize to Oregon.

There are six of us -- by us, I mean, six computer formulas used to help determine the BCS standings -- and we haven't exactly been quacking up the Ducks. Truth is, we weren't buying what Oregon was selling.

Two of us have calculated Oregon as the fourth-best team in the country. And we were giving the Ducks the benefit of the doubt.

Three of us have Oregon rated fifth and one of us -- I'm not going to say who (yeah, I will: Jeff Sagarin) -- has the Ducks eighth. That gives them a computer average of No. 5 and an overall No. 4 BCS ranking.

And then they played USC on Saturday night in the Coliseum.

I'm good at numbers, but I don't even know where to start after watching this Ducks-Trojans game. Neither did the press box stat crew. When asked if there were postgame notes, an official said, "They're typing them up right now. There are so many records, it's taking them a long time."

OK, let's start with something simple, such as the score: Oregon 62, USC 51. You read that right: USC scored 51 points at home … and lost.

That's the most points USC has given up. Not just this season, but ever. From coaches Henry Goddard and Frank Suffel in 1888 to Lane Kiffin in 2012.

"Obviously they moved the ball," Kiffin said.

And obviously USC couldn't stop them. The Ducks rushed for 426 yards. They threw for 304 yards. That's 730 total yards, or almost a first down per play. That's also the most yards USC has ever given up in the history of the program. The next closest was 623 yards -- in 1946.

We computers knew the Ducks were good, but not this good. No wonder USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin looked like he wanted to go back to the NFL, where it might be easier to stop teams.

No wonder former Oregon star running back LaMichael James, a rookie with the San Francisco 49ers, said outside the Ducks' locker room, "They definitely could score."

He was talking about scoring against NFL teams. And by the way, there were a half dozen pro scouts here Saturday night. Like I said, I pay attention to numbers.

Oregon punted once. It converted both of its fourth-down attempts and 7 of 8 red zone chances.

[+] EnlargeKenjon Barner
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireKenjon Barner had a career night against USC, rushing for 321 yards and 5 TDs.

Meanwhile, this senior running back named Kenjon Barner rushed for 321 yards and five touchdowns. That's also the most yards and TDs USC has ever given up to a player.

"Knowing who you're playing, it puts it in perspective," said USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who threw for 484 yards and five touchdowns himself.

We're a little late to the perspective party. We looked at Oregon's schedule (non-conference wins against Arkansas State, Fresno State, FCS-member Tennessee Tech; Pac-12 wins against struggling Washington State and gruesomely awful Colorado) and thought, "What's the big deal?"

Our bad. Putting up 62 points against the No. 17 team in the country, that's a big deal.

"They don't flinch," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "It's a team that can last over the whole course of a season."

"I was impressed," Ducks' defensive end Taylor Hart said.

So are we. And we'll be able to provide a more tangible form of appreciation for Oregon on Sunday night, when the latest BCS standings are released.

We still have a few questions. For instance, what should we think about a team that gives up 51 points?

"I don't really want to sit here and talk about how many points and yards we gave up," Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said.

But to Aliotti's credit, he did.

"Let's face it, their offense played better than our defense," he said. "But our offense played better than their defense. That's the first bad [defensive performance] we've had."

We'll take that into account when we crunch the numbers. And remember, Oregon did force three turnovers and make two stops in the red zone. And it was facing a USC offense that features two of the country's best wide receivers (Marqise Lee and Robert Woods) and one of the best quarterbacks (Barkley).

"Big-time NFL players out there," Oregon linebacker Michael Clay said of the Trojans' talent.

Luckily for us, Oregon doesn't hold a grudge. Reporters tried asking big-picture, BCS-type questions to Kelly, Clay, Barner -- you name it -- but none of the Ducks ripped our algorithms. They also didn't campaign for more votes in the polls.

"I don't really care because we're 9-0," Aliotti said. "Really, that's the best answer, we're 9-0."

They're 9-0 with a star next to their name. We'll move them up; we have to, right?

No. 3 Notre Dame needed triple overtime at home to beat unranked Pittsburgh.

No. 2 Kansas State lost quarterback Collin Klein to an undisclosed injury, but it still beat No. 24 Oklahoma State in Manhattan by two touchdowns.

And No. 1 Alabama needed a touchdown with 51 seconds remaining to beat LSU in Death Valley.

So we've got some thinking to do. And some apology notes to write.

Ours starts, Dear Oregon,

We're sorry.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter