Oregon-USC: A new leader in the Pac

I haven’t had the chance to read anything on last night’s game yet. I don’t think I need to, either…

I learned all I needed to know last night through the first three quarters of the USC-Oregon game in Eugene. The Ducks absolutely demolished the seven-time defending Pac-10 champion Trojans 47-20.

masoli

Masoli went nuts against USC. (Getty Images)

And it’s not that USC isn’t a good team — it is. It isn’t the juggernaut it has been the last several years, but it is still a team that should not have lost by nearly four touchdowns to anyone.

Blame USC’s true freshman quarterback. Say it was the Autzen Aura. Pick any reason other than Chip Kelly’s brilliant offensive scheme and I’ll tell you what — you’re dead wrong.

I’ve watched firsthand Oregon tear weak Washington Huskies defenses to shreds the last several years, but something happened when Kelly came to town: An effective offense has become more and more intuitive; Kelly installed a system, not just an offense.

He (and Mike Bellotti) began recruiting for the system.

Kelly has landed lean, mobile linemen, quarterbacks who can run as well as they can throw, unselfish receivers who don’t mind blocking.

Like Butch Goncharoff at Bellevue High School (outside of Seattle), Kelly has his players practicing handoffs and selling the fakes as often as they bench press.

He has strong, durable runners who aren’t necessarily the fastest people on the field, but the most determined.

And Kelly’s offense is going to beat EVERY defense it meets — until that defense is comprised of dead-sure tacklers and that employs very fast linebackers and defensive backs.

What happened at Boise? Easy… it was the first game of the season and the players didn’t have the machine well-oiled.

Well, it didn’t take long.

What is frightening for the rest of the Pac-10 is that Oregon’s win wasn’t necessarily about the players as it was about Kelly’s system. If he keeps getting Jimmy and Joes in those roles, it could be a long time before the Ducks’ offensive system is unlocked.

BIG MISTAKE: I made a big mistake last year as an AP Top-25 pollster. I voted for Florida as the national champion. There isn’t a week that has gone by since that day (which was also the day Tim Booth of the AP called to ask me if I had a comment on KING-5’s report that Hearst had put the P-I up for sale) that I don’t wish I’d voted for Utah.

Utah did everything it was asked. It beat everyone on its schedule. It challenged itself in its nonconference game, and it pounded a previously-ranked No. 1 Alabama team in a hostile environment in the Sugar Bowl.

I don’t really know if Florida would’ve beat Utah in a plus-one. Who is to say? But by not voting for Utah, I did this whole thing a disservice and I admit it.

What exactly am I talking about? Had Utah been named the national champion, the head honchos of the BCS programs would’ve been so incensed that maybe, FINALLY, we would have some kind of resolve in this sport. Instead, we’re going to continue on in this spoon-feeding of Notre Dame world and watch second-rate Big Ten teams get beat in bowl games that are lucrative for someone.

Right now, there are seven undefeated teams and it seems likely at least two of them won’t make a BCS bowl game if they go through the season without a loss.

I’m starting to have a problem with the idea of a Florida-Alabama-winner vs. Texas national championship game.

It isn’t a stretch at all this season to suggest Cincinnati’s and TCU’s schedules were significantly more difficult than Texas’ and Iowa’s.

The Big 12 was way down this year and Texas challenged itself with a nonconference slate of Wyoming, UTEP and  La.-Monroe. Ewwww…  And Iowa, though the Hawkeyes did invite Arizona up to play,  play in the Big Joke, which seems to get weaker and weaker and each season with bowl loss after bowl loss and a refusal to TRY to show the country anything other than nonconference domination of FBS and MidAmerican opponents.  

“Experts” gave the Big East a bad rap at the beginning of the season, but I think it’s reasonable to argue four Big East teams in the top 25 right now — Cincinnati, Pitt, South Florida and West Virginina.  In addition to that tough conference slate, Cincinnati also traveled to Oregon State, hosted Fresno State and has Illinois coming in. (Yes, Illinois, the team that trounced Michigan, which was one of Iowa, Notre Dame and Penn State’s big wins!)

I’m already getting the feeling the bowl season is going to infuriate me. I’m not sure if he’s senile, or just knows the business too well, but Lou Holtz will end up being right — Notre Dame will somehow get a BCS berth. Ohio State will beat Iowa and Penn State and get into a BCS game.

If those two worst-case scenarios happen, I might have to give up college football…

Nah… I’ll just go back to watching only Pac-10 games. 😉

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6 responses to “Oregon-USC: A new leader in the Pac

  1. true statements.

    that is why i hate Notre Dame, they only have to win 9 games to automatically be qualified for a BCS. No other team in college football has the luxury. Just because they used to be good in the 50’s and 60’s or whatever, doesn’t mean you give them a pass now. It is not only unfair to the rest of the team in the nation, but causes disscontent amoung fans.

    GO DUCKS

  2. Well said.

    The Duck receivers’ blocking ability has been overlooked. It is a big reason James and Masoli are having so much fun running the football.

    And who can say enough about the O-line… coming in inexperienced, and looking like a top-notch group of veterans halfway through the season.

    Coach Kelly has a fantastic group of coaches with the ability to get complete buy-in from the players.

    I think it’s more than obvious that the Ducks could play with, and likely beat any team in the country.

  3. Good column, Molly!! Like the photo too!!

  4. You are in a position to vote. If you vote for no touchdown Alabama, no OCC Florida or Texas anywhere besides 8, 9 or 10 in the Top 10, then you are getting exactly that for which you seem to be ashamed.
    Nice writing, great position, good to consider. But like Chip Kelly says, “I don’t do hypotheticals.”
    You want a playoff? Vote in the football teams not the tradition.

  5. Oregon fans, if you have a couple minutes, would you please fill out my survey, which is on the coverage of college football and basketball? Sure would appreciate it… It’s for my academic work. Thanks! (And notjust UO fans — all college sports fans!)

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=b0bbO7D3DSU_2fUjjVXEAE8w_3d_3d

  6. Hate to admit it… but Oregon is the best looking complete team in the Pac.

    Haha and wow that was tough to type!

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