Is This the Year of the Duck?

After grinding through a very talented USC team on the road, one has to wonder if any team can knock off the Ducks this year. After Oregon suffered through several miscues early in the third quarter and surrendered a comfortable twelve point halftime lead the Ducks seemed unfazed and methodically started taking control of the game.

(PHOTO) Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas gestures toward his bench after they scored a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in Los Angeles. Oregon won 53-32. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Sometimes the Webfoot's just made it look easy. LaMichael James didn't seem especially dominant on Saturday but his game stats revealed otherwise, with 239 yards rushing and three touchdowns, LaMike continues to put up Heisman-type numbers. Even more impressive is that James' 239 rushing yards ranks second all-time for most yards allowed by a USC team, only trailing Penn State's Curtis Ennis with 241.

Before the contest, USC defensive lineman Jurrell Casey asserted that Oregon only had two good players. He might want to add a third to his list after wide receiver Jeff Maehl torched the Trojans for 145 receiving yards and three touchdowns, including a very acrobatic diving catch for a touchdown during crunch time. Maehl acknowledged that he took notice of Casey's pregame "two man show" remarks, but when asked about USC he replied, "that's a real good defense over there". However, Jeff also pointed out that Oregon was his only scholarship offer and that he never received so much as a letter from USC, possibly taking a small shot at the many touted 5-star recruits that litter the Trojan roster. Chip Kelly might have said it best when he simply described Maehl as an "unbelievable competitor".

The other member of the "talented trio" is Darron Thomas, who kept the Oregon offensive machine running smoothly while completing 19 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns. It should be noted that no opposing quarterback has ever thrown for more than four touchdowns against the Trojans and it might be time for the national pundits to acknowledge that the Ducks feature two legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates.

Lost in all this might be the performance of Oregon's defense. Teams don't challenge for national championships with only talent on one side of the ball. As Chip put it, "we put our defense in some tough spots and some short fields, especially in the third quarter, but our team feels that it gets stronger as the second half goes on." Once again the Ducks did not allow a score in the fourth quarter, so in eight games the defense is holding at seven points total surrendered during the final frame.

So, is this the year? Players may be coached to never look ahead and to focus on only one game at a time, but nearly every Oregon football fan realizes that playing for a national championship is well within reach. Could this finally be the year of the Duck?

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