Nobody Said It Would Be Easy

Whew! It may not have been pretty but Oregon held on to win a tough smash mouth battle against a very physical Cal team. The Duck's vaunted offense just couldn't find their rhythm and the Bears were breaking in a new quarterback so things got a little ugly. Key penalties, calculated gambles and field position ended up being the difference.

(PHOTO) California kicker Giorgio Tavecchio misses a field goal as quarterback Brock Mansion holds against Oregon in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Berkeley, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. Oregon defeated California 15-13. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Give the Bear defense credit, their interior line seemed to spend a lot of time in the Oregon backfield and held LaMichael James for under 100 yards rushing with an anemic 3.1 yards per carry and no touchdowns. In fact, Cal's nose guard Derrick Hill, blew up a play in he critical third quarter and caused a Darron Thomas fumble which he pounced on in the endzone for one of only two Bear touchdowns.

"You have to give them a lot of credit, their interior line and linebackers played really well," said Oregon wide receiver Jeffery Maehl.

Winning on the road in the Pac-10 is a tough assignment for any team and fortunately the Duck's can play some defense too. Oregon held Cal for under 200 yards in total offense on 59 plays. Brock Mansion struggled while adjusting to the speed of the game and only completed 10 passes for 69 yards. As Chip Kelly put it, "I think our defense played excellent all game long."

It also seemed like when the Ducks made a critical play the field was littered with yellow flags. So, what's the answer when your vaunted offense is sputtering? Give yourself an extra play and go for it on 4th down which Oregon successfully did four out of six times. Vintage Chip Kelly. It also shouldn't have surprised Duck fans when Oregon ran a successful two point conversion after the offense's only touchdown, which is becoming pretty routine except for the variety of the plays. This time the snap went sideways to a waiting Dion Jordan who plowed his way to the goal line.

Naturally Cliff Harris was anxious to contribute, but he couldn't get free of the Bear's downfield punt coverage until Bryan Anger launched his best kick of the night for 57 yards. Harris finally had a little space to work with and promptly took the ball to the house for his fourth punt return touchdown this season.

So in the end the game came down to a rare illegal procedure penalty called against Cal's kicker which removed a go ahead field goal. Then a rattled Gior Tavecchio missed the retry.

After, the teams exchanged possessions and with 9:25 left in the game Oregon prepared for one final drive. Huddled on the sidelines during a timeout, Chip Kelly told his offense, "This will be the drive of the year and the one you'll remember the rest of your lives."

The Cal offense never touched the ball again as the Ducks burned up the remaining clock with 22 plays and sealed a tough 15-13 victory.

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