Oregon Wins PAC-12 Title Game: Reaction
Oregon did it. They won the first PAC-12 title game and have now won the conference championship three years in a row. It’s almost surreal when I think about the recent successes of the program. I remember being heartbroken every season when the Ducks were eliminated from the possibility of a Rose Bowl. Now, Oregon is going to its third BCS bowl game in the last three years. Every year prior to that in my time as a fan the Ducks only made two BCS bowl games, and one Rose Bowl. Some of the fans who jumped on the bandwagon may not fully appreciate how big of a deal the Rose Bowl is; it’s a huge deal.
Something that was absolutely shocking to me was the general apathy towards this game from many Duck fans I ran in to. Tickets were being sold for a single dollar outside the stadium and fans were leaving at half time. Really? Oregon’s about to win a conference championship and go to the Rose Bowl and people don’t show up and leave early? I guess there’s nothing you can do about it, but the core fans couldn’t be any happier about the result and there’s no point in wallowing in negatives while there are plenty of positives to look at.
We all probably saw LaMichael James’ last performance in Autzen Stadium and it was a great one. James carried the ball 25 times for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns. He becomes the first player in conference history to have three seasons of over 1500 yards rushing. If he stays for a fifth year, which he won’t and probably shouldn’t, he would most definitely break the record for most career rushing yards in the conference.
Another record setting performance was seen by none other than Darron Thomas. Thomas broke the school record for most passing touchdowns in a career with 63. While a large group of fans will still say that Bryan Bennett should start and that Bennett could have accomplished that in a year, you can now say without a doubt that those people are not the smartest group of people.
I normally don’t write anything negative about a specific player but I feel like this is something worth talking about. After last week’s win over Oregon State an Oregon receiver tweeted he was tired of being in the same role (read: blocker) and that Marqise Lee was smart to go to USC because they throw the ball there. That same player then dropped an easy touchdown catch where he beat his guy deep and just dropped the ball. I’m sure you can figure out who it was.
Oregon outgained UCLA by 240 yards overall and committed two turnovers. While it would have been nice to see the corners force a turnover against Kevin Prince the defense did cause four total turnovers, three of which were fumble recoveries (Mitchell made a pick that was robbed of SportsCenter Top 10 Glory that was against the backup. Prince threw up a ton of balls that could’ve been caught by anybody, were caught by nobody, and the defense could have picked off). The Ducks also battled 120 yards in penalties. The rushing game was totally dominant, racking up 352 yards on 50 carries for an average yard per carry of 7. Oregon held UCLA to 160 yards rushing and I knew if anything was going to pose a problem to the Ducks it would be UCLA’s power running game with a huge running back.
Oregon’s defense got a lot of pressure on the quarterback and blitzed like crazy. We saw a lot of “psycho” fronts, where basically every player on defense is on the line of scrimmage and is standing upright to confuse the offensive line, something we saw a couple times against Oregon State.
I couldn’t be happier right now as a Duck fan and am already looking forward to the Rose Bowl. Oregon will play the winner of the BIG champion who will be either Michigan State or Wisconsin, my fingers are crossed for Michigan State who will need to play a perfect game to win. Both teams feature power running games, which Oregon has struggled with, but neither are better than Stanford. I’m done California Dreaming as the Rose Bowl is now reality.