Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
The Oregon Ducks had yet another Pac-12 statement game against the Arizona State Sun Devils. Who will stand in their way?
With the Mighty Ducks, it almost felt inevitable.
Not to say that it's boring. The Oregon Ducks clearly aren't that. If anything, they've made routs more exciting then ever. They've branded their own form of excellence into a routine, blasting opponent after opponent into the next dimension. Doesn't matter whether it takes until the third quarter (like against Arizona or Washington State) or until the first (like against Washington and Arizona State). Once Kenjon Barner went scooting, we all kind of knew what was happening.
We knew this would end with the Duck trashing the Bieber.
Since Chip Kelly has taken over as head coach, the Ducks have gone 30-2. In the last three seasons of Pac-12 play, Oregon has gone 22-1, and only one of those wins was in single digits. The Ducks haven't just won this conference, they have zipped right past the competition and left everyone else deader than dead.
Marcus Mariota averaged under four yards per pass. Oregon completed 11 forward passes on the game. Mariota fumbled the second snap of the game. It was all an illusion. It was a precursor to slaughter.
The whole issue with Oregon is pressure. The offense putting pressure on the defense to stay in control on every play; the defense begins playing with house money with every successive score and starts getting ready to jump every pass and attack every angle.
The opposing defense now tries taking risks to get the offense off the field and force them in tough down-and-distance situations. The opposing offense tries to make plays that aren't there because they're afraid of punting the football back with the fear of yet another touchdown widening that scoring margin.
That's how Oregon gets you. That's how they put ASU in the choke hold and made them submit within twenty minutes.
It wasn't like Oregon needed to do much offensively to overwhelm Arizona State. But the pressure for the Sun Devils to make plays seemed to overwhelm them as the game moved forward. Oregon had to drive the football only twice in the first quarter to score. It took them two big offensive plays (the death runs by Mariota and Barner) and the two big defensive plays (the picks inside their own territory that led to six- and one-yard touchdown scores) to put Oregon in that 43-7 lead. The rest of the game might as well have been played with a running clock.
Example: Barner decided to use the power of his mind to bring an ASU defender to the ground.
And you just shrug your shoulders, because this seems to happen in every Duck football game. Some defender ends up looking silly, because the speed and the tempo just wears opponents down.
I would say that Will Sutton and Junior Onyeali would have made a sizable difference in this game. Then I see that Arizona State went a combined 97 yards on ten straight drives after Oregon took a touchdown lead. Punt, disaster pick #1, punt, disaster pick #2, punt, punt, halftime, punt, punt, punt.
Obviously the game was pretty much over by disaster pick #2, but the Oregon defense is just so impossible to score on the further in the hole you get. They throw out zone blitzes from all over the place and become more confident with running more and more stuff as the game progresses. They're so quick to the football and quick to the quarterback that unless the opponent is successful with his base offense, it's impossible to keep up.
If not for two bad Oregon turnovers, the Ducks outscored the Arizona schools 92-7. There's only one king of spread in the Pac-12, and Nick Aliotti's defense is making sure of it.
Oh come on this nonsense isn't even fair.
You know the craziest thing about this play? This may very well have been by design. Mariota was just standing there the whole time. He wasn't blocking. He wasn't running routes. He was standing there. He was the safety valve. Bennett knew what he was doing when he heaved that ball toward the sideline. He knew who would be there.
So what looks like a chaotic and crazy play to everyone else might just be typical Chip Kelly wizardry. And I half-believe what I'm saying because at some point all the crazy ways in which Oregon produces offense looks more like science than alchemy.
We're at that point where opposing Pac-12 fanbases need to start banding together and start up a campaign for the greater good of the conference. "Why is Chip Kelly afraid of the NFL?" and "Is Chip really just happy with beating West Coast JV teams?" and "Would Jerry Jones pay one billion or two billion a year?" should start becoming part of the football discourse.
We're not quite at Pete Carroll-USC danger zone territory, but five more wins like this and I think the rest of the Pac-12 might have to worry about ever getting a shot at cracking the Twin Towers of Los Angeles and Eugene.
I wouldn't say these Ducks are bored. They're just clearly on a different level compared to all the foes they've beaten. They haven't been seriously challenged this season, and now that they have
to play Colorado a bye week ahead before facing USC, the Ducks look like they'll have all their issues resolved in preparation for their final formidable month. The unnamed foe that can challenge the Ducks for sixty minutes remains faceless and nameless. I don't even know if they exist.
Oregon is running laps around the competition right now, and the only team that might trip up their path to Miami is Oregon themselves.