Ducks overhaul Michigan 39-7

Ann Arbor, Mich. – While everybody else was talking about what Appalachian State did last week, the Oregon Ducks were concerned about what was going to happen this week. If Wolverine fans thought last week was embarrassing and it couldn't get any worse – it could and did. The Ducks walloped the hometown team to the tune of 39-7 in front of the largest crowd to ever watch a football game.

(PHOTO) Dennis Dixon (10) runs during Oregon's 39-7 win over Michigan on Saturday. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

"I'm very proud of my coaching staff and players," said Oregon's Mike Bellotti of his team's performance. "They did a very good job in execution. It was not a perfect game, but it's a work in progress."

While the hype of the nation was on Michigan because of the 34-32 loss to Appalachian State, the Ducks figured they had something to show too, and did they ever.

Oregon ended up with a total of 624 yards of offense, the second highest ever given up by the Wolverines on their home turf. Oregon had 359 yards of rushing and 293 yards passing. Dennis Dixon put on a prime time performance that should have folks talking about his Heisman Trophy chances. Dixon was 16-of-25 for 292 yards and three touchdowns, and anyone who thinks Dixon can't throw the long ball – check out the replays of the game. Dixon's three TD passes were for 85 yards to Brian Paysinger, 61 yards to Derrick Jones and 46 yards to Jaison Williams.

"In my mind that's the difference this year," observed Bellotti of his offense. "If you give us that long ball we can take it."

Michigan finished the game with a total of 365 yards offense, 144 rushing and 221 passing.

Dixon also was dazzling on his feet. When the Ducks needed to make a long third down conversion, Dixon would just make it happen. Not to mention a nifty 8-yard run into the end zone off a faked Statue of Liberty play.

It was a cool day at the office for a guy who many questioned why should he be the starting signal caller after spending a couple months in minor league baseball this summer. So what if he didn't hit many curve balls, on a day like Saturday in Ann Arbor he can be forgiven and judging by the swarm of messages on eDuck's message boards, Dixon has.

"Dennis played an extremely good football game," said Bellotti of Dixon's game. "He got sick at halftime and was not quite as good in the second half, but we didn't need that luckily."

Dixon explained later that he had taken a solution to help in combating dehydration, but it backfired and made him sick to his stomach.

"Next time I'm sticking to the water," admitted Dixon over being sick.

According to Bellotti the Statue of Liberty has been in the Duck playbook for a while and may or may not be pulled out again in the future. The first time the Ducks ran it, Dixon looked to be passing but instead dropped the ball behind his back and Jonathan Stewart took off for a 15-yard gain. Stewart would eventually score on a 4th and 1 play on the same drive as the trick play. The next time the Ducks had the ball, they ran the Statue of Liberty again, but this time Dixon faked the hand off and literally strolled into pay dirt on an eight yard run.

"We would use it against any team," admitted Bellotti of the special play. "It's more based on the plays we are running and how it might fit."

What the trick play actually does is create misdirection and every team has some form of a play that does that, make the defense go in one direction and then the offense suddenly cuts the run back in the opposite direction. Bellotti promised to do some kind of misdirection in every game to keep the opposition honest.

Stewert ended the day with 111 yards rushing on 15 carries while Jeremiah Johnson had 89. Andre Crenshaw had 45 yards, including one of 39.

By the way, Oregon's defense showed up. You remember the Duck defense that had trouble shutting down Houston? The one everyone seemed to think was an extreme vulnerability? Against Michigan the Duck defenders put on an impressive show. Michigan's talented running back Mike Hart racked up 127 yards on 25 carries, but that was mostly in the first half. Since the defense didn't have to continually go back onto the field because of offensive errors, the Ducks held Michigan to nine yards net rushing in the second half.

"We were afraid, Mike Hart is a great running back," Bellotti admitted. "You have to get him down on the ground, and you can't let him get a chance to get started."

With the emphasis the Ducks were putting to stopping the Wolverine running backs, it forced Michigan to throw more than they wanted. Oregon was able to put on a solid pass rush, get tips and deflections and that spelled doom for Michigan's attack.

The Ducks won the turnover to takeaway ratio by intercepting two passes and recovering two fumbles. Oregon only had one turnover and that was a fumble when the game was out of doubt. The first interception was on the very first drive of the game when Michigan's Chad Henne tossed the ball high but it came down in the arms of Oregon's Matthew Harper. That interception seemed to take the enthusiasm out of the home crowd. Even though Michigan would score on one solid drive of 71 yards, and had a couple of opportunities to score more points, the Duck defense just wouldn't have any of it.

"We didn't give up any explosion plays on defense," pointed out Bellotti of his defense. "We gave up yardage but not points or touchdowns."

Walter Thurmond was Oregon's leading tackler with nine solo tackles. Harper also had nine (seven solo) plus a sack and the interception and a return of 55 yards. A.J. Tuitele had six tackles (three solo) including a tackle for loss and a break up. Nick Reed had four tackles for loss. Freshman Kenny Rowe had two sacks.

On special teams Matt Evensen had a field goal of 23 yards.

Saturday's game was in fact nearly too easy for the Ducks. Oregon was flat out faster and had better-conditioned athletes than their Wolverine counterparts. It has to make one wonder why all the hubbub over Michigan?

When the final gun sounded, most of the record setting 109,733 in attendance had long gone, except for a portion of that crowd that were clad in green and yellow. The Ducks had a very good following make the trip to the Big House. For those fans, last week was about beating Houston by 21 points and this week beating storied Michigan by 32.

If things have gotten worse for Michigan in the last two weeks, it couldn't be better for Oregon.

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