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The Oregon Trail Ends in Glendale; Ducks BCS Bound

Posted By Rob Parness On Dec 4 2010 @ 8:21 pm In Oregon | No Comments

When the 2010 football season got underway for the Oregon Ducks they knew they had an opportunity to be a good team and possibly win the Pac-10 for a 2nd straight year. But 12 wins later the Ducks have far exceeded all expectations and have staked their claim as the best team in school history. Going into Saturday Oregon was one win over rival Oregon State away from seizing a birth in the BCS National Championship Game, and early it appeared that the Ducks may have had a little too much adrenaline flowing. Early mistakes, a barrage of penalties and turnovers gave the home Beaver fans a glimmer of hope. But this Ducks team has been in that situation before and they handled it just the way their coach Chip Kelly preaches; like champions. Oregon found some turnovers themselves and used their balance on offense to put Oregon State away in the second half. The final score was 37-20 and the Oregon Ducks are on their way to Glendale for a matchup with Cam Newton and the #1 Auburn Tigers.

Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz got off to a slow start when Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews planted Katz on his back on the first snap and continued to put pressure on Katz the entire game. Katz did turn around to lead the Beavers to an early first quarter touchdown on a pass to running back Jaquizz Rodgers after Oregon’s Cliff Harris was stripped of the ball on a punt return.

Oregon then bounced back and scored 16 unanswered points before halftime. Running back Kenjon Barner, who has been the perfect complement to Heisman trophy finalist LaMichael James in the Ducks backfield all season, got the scoring started with a 3-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Darron Thomas. After a Rob Beard field goal “LaHeisman” James got himself into the scoring column with an 8-yard dash of his own before the Ducks went into the locker room at halftime.

The biggest play of the game may have been on a fake punt play by the Ducks deep in their own territory. It was a direct snap to John Clay who then raced all the way to the Beaver 10 yard line. The Beavers played hard, but that was a serious momentum shift not many eams could bounce back from.

Oregon State continued to fight in the second half and became the first team to score twice on the Ducks in the 4th quarter this season. But Oregon’s ability to control the pace of the game and continue to increase their lead in the second half proved too much for the Beavers.

The Oregon defense played an excellent game and their ability to stop Rodgers in the run game and put pressure on Katz kept the Ducks close when the offense was making mistakes early. Linebackers Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger had terrific tackling games while trying to tackle a small and elusive player in Rodgers. The defensive line also played well, tipping many of Katz’s passes and forcing negative plays throughout the game. The Oregon defense forced 4 interceptions on the day, all of which were tipped either at the line of scrimmage or in the defensive backfield. The unit held Rodgers to just 87 yards in the game.

The balance between James and Barner was at an all-time high on Saturday, a vital part of Oregon’s top-ranked offense. James ran for 134 yards on the day and found the endzone twice on the day. Barner rushed for 133 yards of his own and had 2 scores himself (1 running, 1 receiving).

The Oregon State defense did well to try and contain all of Oregon’s weapons and clearly made life difficult for Thomas and the Ducks. Thomas did throw 2 touchdowns on the day but only mustered 145 yards through the air. Thomas did not make an impact in the running game at all, which does take away a dimension of the offense. The most important thing that Thomas did on the day is protect the ball by not throwing any interceptions and not fumbling any transfers to the running backs. Josh Huff did have a fumble on a hand-off but that was not due to Thomas.

Oregon now gets to enjoy the undefeated season and wait nearly 5 weeks before they head to Glendale and take on the Auburn Tigers. But more on that game later. For now Duck fans can sit back and relish in the season that was. Except Chip Kelly, who may never relax. His Ducks won the day, and they will have only one more obstacle in their path to earning the title of national champions.

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