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How The Ducks’ Recent Football Losses Have Proven They Are Elite

How The Ducks’ Recent Football Losses Have Proven They Are Elite

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Published by: FishDuck on Jul 24, 2012
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HOW THE DUCKS’ RECENT FOOTBALL LOSSES HAVE PROVEN THEY ARE ELITEReported by Nathan Roholt on July 23, 2012 inFishWrap, FishWrap Archive | 6 CommentsOn May 23rd, College GameDay’s Twitter feed sparked a Twittersphere mini-riot by asking the following:“#Oregon has to win a National Championship to be considered an ELITE college football program… AGREE or DISAGREE?”The question itself was clearly meant to incite discussion about Oregon’s place incollege football’s hierarchy during the slow portion of the long off-season. IfCollege GameDay is truly looking for answer though, they have the question inverted. It’s not whom Oregon has beat (or will beat) that is a valid measuring stickfor Oregon’s success; it has been whom they have lost to that has been the appropriate measure of the validity of their elite status.Since Oregon grabbed the Pac-10/12 crown on December 3, 2009, the Ducks have suffered only four losses in 24 games. All four teams that managed to defeat the Ducks have shared the same characteristics.Attained a #1 ranking within six games of playing Oregon.Used elite defenses, specifically elite defensive lines, to win.Had a player who was either a Heisman finalist, or became a preseason Heisman favorite the following season.Enjoyed a post-game narrative that they “dominated” Oregon despite the Ducks havingmultiple clear opportunities to win the game in the second half.Had a celebrated or talented starting quarterback who contributed little to nothing in the late stages of the game to help his team win, yet found his value asa player inflated as a result of the game. 2010 Rose Bowl vs. Ohio StateFollowing a humiliating 26-18 loss to Purdue, in which QB Terrelle Pryor (who strongly considered attending Oregon) threw passes like he was playing a backyardgame of 500, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel handcuffed Pryor’s passing, limiting him to seventeen passes per game in the final three contests of the regular season. Pryor played reasonably well in the Rose Bowl, going 23/37 for 266 yards,2 TD, 1 INT, plus 20 rushes for 72 yards.Despite Kenny Rowe sacking Pryor three times, the Ducks just couldn
t contain him on 3rd downIn the post-game discussion, Pryor was praised by analysts, remarking how he “ranall over Oregon,” while failing to notice that, save for a 24 yard run in the game’sfirst minute, Pryor’s other 19 rushes only go for 48 yards, for a “dominating” 2.5 yard per carry average.It was perhaps not the yardage Pryor accumulated, but when he ran that hurt theDucks the most, picking up multiple first downs on 3rd down when receivers werecovered and it appeared Oregon had Pryor wrapped up in the backfield.As that off-season progressed, Pryor’s performance was repeatedly compared to Vince Young’s 2006 Rose Bowl against USC, forgetting that Young had more passing yards(267) while rushing for 200(!) yards against a defense that produced more NFL p
layers than the one Pryor faced.Hyperbole spirals out of control during a July episode of College Football Livewhen Lou Holtz declares that Pryor should “already have his name inscribed on theMaxwell Trophy.”Ohio State would start the season ranked #2 and climb to the #1 spot before a loss to eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin ended their national title hopes. Pryor began the season as the Heisman frontrunner, but a poor start to 2010 in a season full of promising Heisman candidates resulted in him fading from relevance.Later that season, he became involved in a scandal from a FBI investigation into a Columbus tattoo parlor that would force him to leave campus disgraced, andthe long-time OSU head coach Jim Tressel fired. 2011 BCS National Championship vs. AuburnOregon
s defense actually played well against Newton and the TigersIt may be hard to say that the eventual national champion in Auburn and the Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton could get more of a boost from playing Oregon, butthat’s what happened. The title alone is benefit for Auburn, who took advantage of some timely breaks (LaMichael James’ injury on the 1st and goal shutout, the Dyer call, a Cam Newton fumble recovered by Oregon with a clear path to return it for a touchdown ruled a sack, interception ruled incomplete, etc.) and managed towin despite not scoring a touchdown the final 32 minutes of the game.The narrative quickly became how Auburn’s outstanding defensive line throttled Oregon’s offense, neglecting to remember how close Oregon was to blowing the game open on several occasions.Newton had a statistically mediocre game, throwing 20/34 for 265 yards, 2 TD, 1INT, 1 Fumble, and 22/64 rush yds (2.9 avg.). Those numbers would have been a lot worse had he not gained from having another fumble and interception waved offby the officials. Newton had a terrible fourth quarter, going 2/7 for 31 yds, with one Moshofsky Center banner-worthy lost fumble, and six carries for 26 yds.Despite that performance, Newton rocketed up draft boards, going from a mid-first round selection with “character issues” to the #1 overall pick. Today he is a glorified H-back running a full-time wildcat offense for the Carolina Panthers. 2011 Cowboys Classic vs. LSUThe first inclination is to say, “Jarrett Lee played well in this game.” Only Jarrett Lee wasn’t LSU’s starting quarterback, that distinction belonged to Jordan Jefferson (and Lee didn’t play well, going only 10/22 for 98 yards). Jefferson only lost his starting spot after an altercation at a Baton Rouge bar in August mere weeks before the game. Jefferson would eventually regain his spot, around the sametime LSU’s once-dominant 2011 season began to fade.The Tigers would go on to lose the 2012 BCS National Championship, with Jefferson’s quarterback play receiving much of the criticism for his inability to drive the offense across midfield. 

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