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Oregon's Luck Is Good And Bad, The Win Over Utah Clinched It

Oregon had good luck early and bad luck late. They beat Utah and clinched the North, but do they have the reserves to hold on?

George Frey

Oregon’s football team is good—very good. It’s football luck is bad—very bad.

Or is it?

Pop Warner and the Tabernacle of Gods exchanged Oregon a righteous scoring gift for three worthy souls Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

Was the unsolicited swap worth it to the Ducks?

The game very much could have produced a different outcome if Kaelin Clay had not been compelled by Arrogance, the dumbest of the God’s Messenger Demons, to jettison the football at the one-yard-line near the end of what should have been a long and beautiful touchdown for Utah.

The score would have been 14-0 for the Utes and that blood-red, Rocky Mountain coliseum of Rice-Eccles Stadium would have been chaos for Oregon to play in with the momentum surging against them.

But instead, while Clay—with as much chest-thumping pride as any one wrong-man can have—was dancing a jig in back of the end zone, Joe Walker picked up the ball and went 100-yards the other way for a Ducks’ touchdown.

Then the game became 7-7 and an eerie silence brought on of post-traumatic confusion settled over the arena. In the aftermath, Oregon scored 24 consecutive points to Utah’s three in the quarter and finished the half leading 24-10.

Byron Marshallwho did the same thing against South Dakota earlier this year—a game Oregon won 62-13—did not have a kindly welcome waiting for the man who joined him in DeSean Jackson’s ultra-exclusive "I Want You To Think Less Of Me Always" club.

"I don’t sympathize for him at all," Marshall told The Register-Guard afterward. "I think what he did was stupid, because what I did was stupid."

My hypothesis is that players capable of dropping the ball before the end zone from a sense of sheer superiority to life itself are incapable of learning the lessons a normal human would take from that degree of humiliation.

If DeSean were the only sample that hypothesis would have become a theory as certain as Natural Selection.

Clay, either to his credit, or because a passel of lit-up Utes was dispatching death threats over Twitter, took to the Tweet Deck himself to apologize.

Clay "took this one" for the team. What is his real punishment though if he doesn’t have a conscience? I’m not saying he doesn’t, it’s just that I believe in my hypothesis.

This is the same dude—both a junior college transfer and a senior—who struck a Heisman pose on the road against a horrible Michigan team after returning a second-quarter punt for a touchdown to put Utah up 10-3.

A one-score game before halftime and the Heisman stiff-arm comes out? Good luck with all that; be glad he’s not on your team.

But the Gods, in their infinite wisdom, took Ducks' All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, All American center Hroniss Grasu and tight-end receiver Pharaoh Brown, who was transforming into a serious playmaker  in the Pac-12.

Ekpre-Olumu might be back as soon as the Colorado game, but Grasu is out indefinitely and Brown might never be the same. The injury to his leg looked grisly.

The Ducks had been blasted on the offensive line early in the season, including the Arizona game they lost, and now the nerve-center is out indefinitely. More adversity, more setbacks and further vulnerability on the front line.

Mark Helfrich said the injuries brought the team together in Musketeers’ fashion. Maybe he will be right. The home-stretch includes two of the worst teams in the conference, but Colorado is a desperate man and Oregon State is the Civil War. The Ducks have clinched the Pac-12 North, but it will be an interesting run to the wire.

The win was another expensive-vintage barreling on the offensive side. Utah pulled to within three points in the fourth quarter, but then you blinked and Oregon scored a touchdown, another touchdown and then a final touchdown to blow it out 51-27.

Marcus Mariota led the team running and throwing. He had 343 total yards and accounted for four touchdowns. He should win the Heisman Trophy and it might be relevant to say it’s impossible to imagine him striking the pose during a game, even though he should.

Royce Freeman had 99-yards on just 15 carries and scored the final Oregon touchdown. There was nothing Utah could do once the Ducks got going. And that’s how it’s been this season for the best offense in America, it just can’t be stopped over 60 minutes.

The Duck defense had six tackles for loss and a sack. It held Utah to 5-15 on third down and forced four turnovers. While the unit surrendered 440 yards, 320 came by air, which was a win for Oregon because Utah doesn’t want to win throwing the football.

The Ducks kept Utah’s hard-core running back  Devontae Booker to 3.6 yards per carry, the second lowest total of the season. Bowing up against the run like that is what gives a defense wings (no pun intended).

That is a good trend for Oregon because if they reach the playoff someone is going to run it straight at them until the Ducks break the wave.