Top-15 performances that defined the Ducks season

Oregon finished off the 2001 season with 38-16 victory in the Fiesta Bowl over Colorado and ended the season 11-1. With a chance at a share of the National Championship, what performances during the season best exemplified what kind of team the Oregon was in 2001?

1. Keith Lewis starts the year off big. Lewis made his first start with the Ducks as a safety against Wisconsin and ended the game with 14 tackles, seven unassisted. Oregon defeated the then number 22 ranked Badgers 31-28. Lewis was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Wisconsin.

2. Jered Siegel kicks the winning field goal against USC. The Ducks opened the Pac-10 season against USC and though ranked in the Top-10, Oregon had struggled against both Wisconsin and Utah. The game was tight and Oregon trailed USC 22-21 with just 44 seconds left in the game. Joey Harrington directed the drive that went 61 yards and set up Siegel's 32-yard winning field goal. Oregon wins 24-22.

3. Steve Smith intercepts three passes against USC. USC quarterback Carson Palmer had a tremendous outing against the Ducks and threw for 411 yards. Palmer's great performance could have made the outcome of the Oregon season much different had it not been for Smith, the senior corner back for Oregon. Smith returned one interception 39 yards for a touchdown. Smith was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the week for his performance against USC.

4. Maurice Morris breaks loose against Utah State. The Oregon running game had come under some scrutiny and question in the early part of the season. Morris had gained over 1,000 yards in the 2000 season yet headed into game four he had a total of 169 yards rushing and one touch down. However against the Aggies of Utah State Morris got on track and ended the game with 175 yards rushing including a 69-yard touchdown run.

5. Joey Harrington unloads on Arizona. Harrington was pulled after three-quarters against Arizona but while he was in the game he was 15 for 24, 279 yards and three touchdown passes. Harrington also ran for three touchdowns. Harrington was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week. Final score Oregon 63, Arizona 28.

6. Samie Parker breaks out against Arizona. Parker showed breakaway speed as he caught six passes for 160 yards and one touchdown reception that went 38 yards.

7. Keenan Howry sets a punt return record in a losing cause. Howry set a Pac-10 record with five returns for 186 yards. Howry returned one punt for 69 yards and a touchdown and had one 81-yard return that led to an eventual score against Stanford. Stanford though prevailed in the game for Oregon's only blemish for the 2001 season, 49-42. Howry was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for his game against Stanford.

8. Run Onterrio, run! Someone commented that many Washington State defensive players suffered shoulder injuries as they waved at Onterrio running past them. Smith shared the running duties with Morris in the game that many would have thought the Cougars shutting down Oregon's passing attack. The Ducks found a solution when they gave the ball to the backs and Smith in particular. Smith ended up the game with a school record 285 yards on 26 carries and three touchdown runs. Smith broke loose on runs of 73 and 41 yards. Smith also ran over a Cougar safety to go into the end zone on an eight-yard carry. Smith was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week and Oregon beat Washington State 24-17.

9. Joey Harrington bombs away on Arizona State. Harrington threw for 319 yards was 19 for 32 and had six touchdown passes with no interceptions. The 42-24 victory was just another workman like effort for Harrington who was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in the season. Ho-hum.

10. It only rained on the Beavers at Autzen Stadium when Keenan Howry took off and returned a punt 70 yards for a go ahead touchdown. After Howry's punt return the clouds really opened up and drenched the stadium but Howry's effort seemed to ignite the Ducks effort as Oregon went on the win the Civil War over Oregon State 17-14. Howry was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in the season.

11. If Howry's punt return was a spark, it was Mitchell's determined defensive play that wore down the Beavers. Mitchell recorded 17 tackles including eight solo tackles and five tackles for loss. Oregon held Oregon State to 107 yards on 38 rushing attempts. Mitchell was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week.

12. Joey, Joey, Joey! Just ask anyone who watched the Fiesta Bowl. In case anyone missed it Harrington proved to everybody what he could do. 24-42, 350 yards, four touch down passes. Harrington was named Offensive Player of the Game, and for those who saw the game on ABC a film clip showed Harrington playing the jazz piano. Filmed interviews of fans watching the game in Portland showed a table for young women talking about Harrington, his play on the field and on the piano and they said he's got it all going on. Of course. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

13. Maurice Morris kept on playing. Morris appeared to be going down for a tackle but he simply kept moving and didn't stop playing and as a result he sprinted into the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown run in the Fiesta Bowl. Morris rushed for 89 yards and he went over the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the second season in a row.

14. The Oregon defense stopped the Colorado offense cold. What more can be said about an effort that allowed only 49 yards?

15. The Oregon coaching staff fostered a family atmosphere for their players and was rewarded with the school's first 11-win season. Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford coached his last game for the Ducks in the Fiesta Bowl before moving onto take over at Cal. Tedford said he loved the players and his loyalty to them is remarkable, good for Tedford and good for Head Coach Mike Bellotti to believe in his coaches for this memorable season.

The Ducks came into the season with high expectations. The team played with focus and intensity all year and was rewarded with a New Year's Day bowl win. The team will be the highest ranked team ever at Oregon and the performance all year long was one of commitment to play "one inch out of control." They played hard and fast and Duck fans enjoyed every moment.

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