Seems Like This Happened Before

This Saturday has a familiar feel as the BCS No. 4 team Oregon (9-1, 7-0) takes on USC (8-2, 5-2) at Autzen Stadium on Saturday with a 5 p.m. kickoff. A win by Oregon cinches the Northern Division Pac-12 crown and the right to hold the inaugural conference championship on the home turf. It also could mean more of the necessary ingredients to continue Oregon's winning ways.

After destroying Stanford last weekend 53-30 in a nationally televised game, Oregon reemerged in the discussion of who might end up at the BCS Championship game. The Ducks smashed Stanford's hopes of advancing onto the championship game next January in New Orleans with a combination of an aggressive defense and an explosive offense.

Junior running back LaMichael James racked up 146 yards and three touchdowns just under his nation leading 150.9-ypg average. Sophomore Josh Huff rekindled the Duck receiving game a spectacular 59-yard touchdown reception and freshman De'Anthony Thomas or DAT mesmerized everyone watching when he took an outlet screen pass 41 yards for a score.

Defensively, the Ducks sacked Heisman front runner Andrew Luck three times and created five turnovers. The Ducks' defense front, a group many observers were so critical of prior to the last few games emerged into a solid, cohesive unit. Oregon's defense has become such a hot item that even Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian commented in the Pac-12 weekly media conference that Oregon's defense is the best the Huskies have seen this season.

"I think they tackle extremely well," Sarkisian said of the Duck defense. "I think they play defense with a very attacking style. They do a nice job of pressuring the quarterback and they're traditionally very opportunistic, they create turnovers."

During Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly's weekly media conference, Kelly was asked had he taken anything from USC's success and translated it into Oregon's success?

"Yeah, get good players."

One has to wonder exactly what Kelly meant by getting "good players." Does that mean in general or more specifically does that mean something like the surprise of the 2011 recruiting class De'Anthony Thomas dropping his verbal commitment to USC last February and appearing at his high school LOI announcement wearing an Oregon hat?

For years Duck fans had hoped and prayed for some of the talent had routinely shunned any notion of hoping a two and a half hour flight north, but now those very elite players have Oregon in their final choices of schools to attend. This Saturday night, Oregon fans want not only a repeat of the 53-32 win at the LA Coliseum, but also a favorable impression on the No. 1 high school football player, Arik Armstead, who is making his official visit to Oregon this weekend.

Headed into his senior year at Pleasant Grove High School in Elk Grove, Calif., was a verbal commitment to USC and most Duck fans thought nothing more about him as he surely was a Trojan lock. After all, his older brother Armond Armstead is a senior defensive end for USC, so it was little surprise that most Duck fans didn't associate Arik with Oregon. That is until eDuck's Chris Courtney tracked Arik Armstead down and found out that in fact he was no longer a verbal commitment to USC and he had been talking to the Ducks. Initially, maybe the most surprising thing about what Armstead told Courtney was that the Ducks are recruiting him a defensive lineman. All of the recruiting services including project Armstead as an offensive lineman. However looking back at the many articles written about Armstead, produces a very revealing quote.

"I'm passionate about defense," Armstead told Inna Lazarev of "I know I could play both in college, but on defense you get to make more plays and it's more exciting. I'd rather sack somebody."

Clearly, Armstead has yet to decide where he will spend his college career and he doesn't have to make a decision until National Letter of Intent Day in February 2012. Yet this weekend, he'll be in the stands at Autzen Stadium watching the Ducks and Trojans play.

Deja vu?

  • Oregon now holds the longest home winning streak in the FBS at 21 games.
  • The Ducks have scored five touchdowns on fourth-down plays this season.
  • Oregon four 2-point conversions are tied for the most in the FBS
  • UO is 7-0 at Autzen Stadium vs. top 25 competition under head coach Chip Kelly.
  • JR QB Darron Thomas, who is 15-0 as a starter in conference play, saw reserve duty as a true freshman in UO's last loss against the Trojans in 2008. Thomas has a touchdown pass in 22 straight games, which is the second-longest streak in the nation behind Wisconsin's Russell Wilson (34).
  • The Ducks' turnover margin in Sept./Oct. was even. In November it's +5.

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