A collective sigh of relief was heard in Duck land Saturday night after Oregon finally disposed of those pesky USC Trojans 62-51.
In a game that appeared it was going to be over early in the first half, the Trojans somehow found their offensive mojo and matched Oregon score for score to keep the game in sight and certainly within the possibility of a shocking upset.
But, as the Trojans scored, so did the Ducks keeping the game out of reach until the final gun.
“It was going to be one of those games,” Oregon coach Chip Kelly said after the game. “We had to continue to answer offensively, because those are three all-time greats.”
Of course Kelly was describing the monster games of Matt Barkley, Marquis Lee and Robert Woods.
A collective sigh of relief you say?
This was a game Chip Kelly and his Oregon Ducks had to have if they wanted to remain in the BCS National Championship hunt and to sway voters and computers to slide them into the No. 2 slot.
The Oregon-USC match-up was targeted in fall camp as “The Game of the Year”. The game Oregon would have to win to not only compete for a fourth consecutive conference title, but a possible trip to Miami for the national championship.
College football experts, analysts and fans alike all agreed this single hurdle was the largest to scale for the Ducks after all-world quarterback Matt Barkley decided to return for his senior season citing ‘unfinished business’.
In fact, the Trojans were tabbed as pre-season favorites to not only win the Pac-12 conference title, but to also win the national championship.
Now with three conference losses and the light quickly dimming on any hope of playing in the conference title game, Lane Kiffin and his Trojans are left reeling and wondering what could have been.
Who saw that coming?
Certainly not the 93,067 USC fans crammed into LA’s Memorial Coliseum on Saturday who saw Oregon’s blur offense put up 62 points on their home team.
It left USC fans and coaches alike shaking their heads leaving the facility.
“It’s mind boggling. I’ve never heard of so many yards” said USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin after the game. Kiffin was referring to the record 730 total yards the Ducks amassed against the Trojans.
“We just kept feeling, we’d make a stop, we’d make a play ” said a disappointed Lane Kiffin.
“Yeah, I’d have to say that was the best offense I’ve seen,” said Trojan free safety T.J. McDonald.
So, here the Ducks sit.
They’ve cleared the most significant hurdle by beating the Trojans and they find themselves chasing perfection.
Where perfection was once a far off wish, is now a likely conclusion to the Ducks regular season.
Considering what Oregon’s displayed over the last 10 weeks including the convincing victory over USC, conventional wisdom says the Ducks should win out over Cal, Stanford and Oregon State, as well as their opponent in the Pac-12 championship contest.
Chip Kelly will certainly keep his team focused by winning the day and continuing to approach every game as their super bowl.
It’s the team philosophy and it’s worked. Kelly won’t allow his team or his coaches to look any further than the next day.
But for all of us, we’re now able to see the light of Miami in the distance.
We’re also able to marvel at what this Oregon team may accomplish as they indeed chase perfection for only the second time in school history.