Oregon 101: High flying Ducks

OREGON SCORED 52 points against Stanford, a team many had tabbed as fielding the Pac-10's strongest defense. But if the Cougs have indeed made strides this week, Oregon might well give them plenty of chances to prove it.

Cougars (1-4) vs Ducks (5-0)
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
2:00 pm Pacific Time

WHERE:
Martin Stadium (35,117)

TELEVISION:
Limited live broadcast and delayed showing on TV, click here for more

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

THE LINE:
Oregon by 35

LAST MEETING:
Oregon won in Eugene last year 52-6.

THE SERIES:
Oregon Leads 42-38-7.

CF.C PREDICTION:
Ducks 57, Cougs 17

THE DUCKS ON OFFENSE

Players to Know
Darron Thomas, QB: The young sophomore can be dangerous with both his legs and his arm. He ranks third nationally in passing touchdowns and is Oregon's second leading rusher.
LeMichael James, RB: Now being mentioned as a Heisman candidate, the speedy sophomore leads all running backs nationally with 178 yards per game.

Overview
This is the most potent offense in college football. They rank No. 1 in yards and points scored per game. Oregon generally operates out of spread formation but has a run-based attack out of a zone read option, averaging 331 rushing yards per game and 6.6 per attempt.

Strategy
What a matchup -- It's a prolific rushing offense against a porous rushing defense, surely eHarmony would be proud. LaMichael James' Heisman campaign will receive a boost if he pads his stats. All 11 Cougars on defense need to see him as their responsibility.

THE DUCKS ON DEFENSE

Players to Know
Cliff Harris, CB: On both defense and special teams he typifies Oregon's big play mentality. He has four interceptions and three special teams touchdowns.

Overview
The Ducks aren't a defensive juggernaut but they are effective on all fronts and they gamble, and gamble right, a lot. The Ducks lead the nation with 21 turnovers, five more than the next closest rival. They rank fourth in passing efficiency defense and surrender just 3.7 yards per rush. They tend to pick up steam as their speed, and their quick strike offense, wears down opponents during the course of the game. Oregon has surrendered only seven second half points this season.

Strategy
Jeff Tuel gets the Cougs passing game in order just in time to face the team that leads the nation in interceptions. Andrew Luck did throw for 341 yards against them last week, but it was out of necessity more than strategy. The challenge with Oregon remains keeping up in the track meet.

THE DUCKS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
The Ducks only missed field goal this season was a block. Punter Jackson Rice is sound.

FINAL THOUGHTS
-The Ducks offense really flexed their muscles last week, racking up 626 yards against Stanford -- thought by many to be the conference's soundest defense. There is always a strong possibility that going on the road after such an emotional win will disrupt some of the offensive continuity, but the Cougars haven't given enough of an indication to date this season that they're capable of taking advantage of it.


Cougfan Top Stories