The Case for Kenjon (Barner)

Ed’s Note: Written by Jeff Spiegel

Immediately following the devastating Rose Bowl loss last January, the only positive Oregon headline in circulation read: “Kenjon Barner is the Lone Bright Spot for Oregon” (Los Angeles Times). For anyone who has forgotten the details of that game, that wasn’t a typo. It wasn’t Jeremiah Masoli or LaMichael James who carried the Ducks in the biggest game of the season; it was that other running back that kept it close. Said Chip Kelly after the game, “I know there’s a lot of negatives about tonight…but I get to spend three more years with Kenjon.”

You see, while everyone has spent the off-season touting LaMichael James, the breakout freshman from last season, it appears many people are passing over the explosive Barner. While many would claim they aren’t underestimating Barner, I’m asking you to consider the following: could Kenjon Barner actually be better than James?

On the face of it, the competition doesn’t seem that close. James was given four times the carries Barner was, and carried the ball for an astounding 6.7 yards per carry compared to Barner’s 6.0 YPC. Consider, however, that over the final eight games of the season, Barner’s averaged jumped to 7.2 YPC against defenses such as UCLA, ASU, USC, and Ohio State compared to James’ 7.0 against the same opponents. The reason to look at just these final eight games has nothing to do with the added importance of these games, but just the added grasp Barner had of the offense.

While James had the luxury of learning the system for an entire season during his redshirt year, Barner spent that time playing defensive back for the scout team. Last season, Barner was essentially a true freshman learning the offense on the fly after taking an entire season off. In addition to all this, Barner starred during his time on special teams last season, setting a single-season Duck record for kickoff return yardage, and figures to do more of the same this season. What I am trying to say is not that Kenjon Barner is definitively the best Duck running back on the roster, but that Barner hasn’t done anything to lead us to believe he can’t be.

To clarify further, none of this has anything to do with James. LaMichael is a freak, and figures to be one of the nation’s top running backs this season; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barner joined him in that group this season. During James’ Week One suspension, Barner will have the opportunity to make a statement regarding his place on the Oregon depth chart, and given the porous defense he’ll be facing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes that statement at the top of his lungs.

With as much talent as the Ducks have rotating around the running back position with both of these elite backs — and the addition of two of the most highly recruited backs in Lache Seastrunk and Dontae Williams — Chip Kelly’s task of spreading the ball around will most certainly be difficult. All this being said, that remains a problem most coaches wished they had.

Expect a lot more of this, this year:

Oregon Ducks on Preseason Watch Lists

There are a lot of them. And that’s a good thing. But awards on paper don’t always translate to success on the field. You know, like Jake Locker being named to the 2009 Manning Award Watch List.

Here’s hoping the Ducks’ on field success translates into individual awards. Or really, I’d just take the on field success. BCS title here we come! And if Bo Thran wins that Rimington Trophy, that’s just icing on the cake.

From GoDucks.com, the full list of Ducks on preseason watch lists:

Oregon Ducks Fall Camp: Day Two Notes

Written by Chase Kepler:

Another exciting day at Duck Practice. It was the last day without shoulder pads and you can tell the players are ready to hit.

Seastrunk has really impressed with his quickness and agility out of the backfield.

Some guys really stood out, starting with Bo Lokombo. He just keeps making plays and is all over the ball. The highlight of the day was easily his pick-six off Nate Costa, where he made a GREAT catch on the ball. Bo is really pushing for that number one spot at OLB.

It should be noted that Chip Kelly swapped in Darron Thomas for Costa to run with the first team today, although it could just be a back and forth thing until one player emerges.

That said, the quarterback battle is still pretty even — and rusty. Costa threw a pair of interceptions today and had another one that should have been brought back for a touchdown, but Kenny Rowe couldn’t hang on to it. The argument for Costa is that he is the “safe” pick, however in the first two practices this has not been the case. He’s thrown six interceptions to Darron Thomas’s one, and throws into double and triple coverage far too often.

But like Kelly noted, “A guy may throw a pick, but when you look at the film, the receiver ran the wrong route. Is that the quarterback’s fault? Is there a protection breakdown? They look like they did some decent things out there (today), but other times it looked like they made some mistakes.”

Darron has actually been making very good reads, hitting his check down — almost too much  even — and rarely forcing the ball to his receivers. I would like to see two things from Darron: the first being more consistency with his ball/ accuracy. His ball often wobbles, and it comes in too high or too low for the receivers. I’d also like to see him take more shots downfield.

The QB position might seem a little shaky right now, but the future looks great. True freshman Bryan Bennett looks like a veteran already in his second day of fall camp. He throws the best ball out of all three QB’s and has been making great reads with few mistakes. He especially looked great after practice when it was just the newcomers going 7 on 7, hooking up with receivers deep downfield with perfect balls. I have a new man crush.

On twitter, Dan Rubenstein (a must follow) said that Bennett is the first QB to come into Oregon who ran a modern read-option spread offense in HS.  Which might be why he’s so ahead of the curve.

Other players that stood out were:

  • Curtis White: He is going to be special. Great frame and catches everything.
  • Brandon Williams: Or should I say Antonio Gates. Enough said.
  • Josh Huff: It will be hard to keep him off the field. Great hand, great speed.
  • Blake Cantu: Aaron Pflugrad but bigger and quicker.
  • Lache Seastrunk: Didn’t do much but had a run at the end of practice that showed why he was a 5 star. Agility is insane.
  • Lavasier Tuinei: Great hands and has definitely added some weight from last year.

A few more notes from the Register-Guard’s Adam Jude:

Jackson Rice definitely won the day, at least judging by the difficulty punt returners LaMichael James and Lache Seatrunk had catches Rice’s booming kicks. … Seastrunk, splitting time with fellow freshman Dontae Williams with the third-string offense, cut outside with a couple nifty moves for a big run on the final play of 11-on-11s. … Sophomore CB Cliff Harris practiced today in his new No. 13 jersey, running mostly with the “threes.” … Joey Harrington made an appearance today, watching practice from the edge of the field. He then spent a few minutes after practice talking with Costa.

Harris with the threes? I really hope he gets his head on straight and earns his way into a starting spot. He has the potential to be special.

Until next time…

Go Ducks!

“Focused” is Word of the Day as Oregon Ducks Open Fall Camp

This is the quiet before the storm.

We're gonna see a lot these three this year: LMJ, KB and Lache.

The Ducks took to the practice fields today to participate in the first of twenty-nine preseason practices leading up to the season opener against New Mexico on September 4th.

They are more than ready.

All 105 players reported and began the day watching film and having their first position meetings, which began around 8:00 am over in the Casanova Center.

Chip Kelly took questions from the media at 11:00 am, and offered his trademark vagueness when asked about specific position battles.

Kelly told reporters that Nate Costa and Darron Thomas both have improved and said that he will make a decision regarding the starter after the final fall scrimmage. As we’ve known for a while, Kelly reiterated that he will decide on one quarterback, but the other will need to be ready to go.

A solid group of starters return for the Ducks, nine on the offense and eight on the defense.

Asked about the mindset of the team right now, Kelly called them focused.

“The group is really focused and they understand what they have the ability to do,” he said. “Now we have to go out and do it.”

Oregon is arguably the fastest program in the nation. Kelly said that there’s significant speed at every position, and that “we base our recruiting, we base everything we do on speed.”

“We want bullets, not bowling balls,” Kelly said referring to the program’s speed.

Kelly called safety Eddie Pleasant possibly the fastest Duck on the squad, and expects his move from linebacker to safety to bring a lot of “T.J. Ward” to the position.

What was a cold, overcast morning in Eugene blossomed into a warm afternoon once practiced started. Players started making their way to the field around 1:45 pm, and by 2:15 pm practice was underway.

A steady mix of Metallica and Eminem blasted over the speakers, as Nate Costa was the first up in the team drills. Costa looked solid to begin with, but later in the day he threw three interceptions in a single drill. His arm looked strong for the most part, and aside from a few mistakes, he was relatively spot on with his accuracy.

Darron Thomas looked groomed and ready to lead the team. His lightning bolt release found many a wide receiver downfield. Both quarterbacks looked good scrambling, with Thomas making a nice would-be-touchdown getaway late in the day.  Arguably, the only thing faster than the Ducks running back unit today was Thomas’ release. As soon as he pulls back, the ball is already seemingly in the air to the receiver.

Also worth noting was true freshman QB Bryan Bennett’s beautiful pass to fellow true freshman WR Josh Huff for what would’ve been a touchdown. Bennett got a few reps in, along with some coaching from Costa.

LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk took turns alternating returning kicks. All in all, everybody looked like they were glad to be out there.

A good crowd came to watch the first practice of the fall, which lasted three hours. The Ducks will be back out again tomorrow, again open to the public.

Lache Seastrunk Adds a Cool Name and Even More Depth to Oregon’s Offense

Ed’s Note: Welcome our newest contributor (they just keep coming, don’t they?) to the blog, Drew Eyman. Drew is a junior political science major at the U of O and is a huge Blazers fan — oh, and he likes the Ducks too. Follow Drew on Twitter here.

Oregon’s top recruit going into this season has many passionate Duck fans salivating over his high school highlight reels and potential impact, before he’s even taken a step onto Autzen Stadium’s new turf.

Looks like Lache is enjoying his new digs.

Lache Seastrunk (pronounced “Lake”) is a 5’11” 190 pound lightning bolt with the speed and agility of LaMichael James, but on a slightly larger frame. Also similar to James, Seastrunk is another running back recruit out of the state of Texas. Hailing from Temple High School, this five star recruit was wooed by schools from all over the country, including USC, LSU, and Auburn before finally settling on Chip Kelly’s explosive spread offense. Many have compared him to former USC great Reggie Bush. While that may be a bit of stretch, as Lache has yet to receive his first carry, his ceiling is truly limitless.

The challenge for Chip Kelly is to find the best way to use a true freshman running back at a position where talent isn’t exactly scarce. With sophomore standouts James and Kenjon Barner returning, Seastrunk may find playing time hard to come by. However, he could be deadly on special teams if used alongside Barner on kick returns or back deep as a punt returner, a la Keenan Howry.

Last year Barner was Oregon’s return specialist, but given his breakout performance at tailback, Chip Kelly may deem him too important for the possibility of pulling a Walter Thurmond III – wince 😦 – and use the dynamic threat more so out of the backfield, as lightning to James’, well, lightning. This would open up more of the return responsibilities to Seastrunk – someone I wouldn’t mind seeing with the ball in the open field a few times each Saturday.

The only problem with Seastrunk’s arrival is that he, Barner and James are all quick and relatively small running backs. Now that Legarette Blount has taken his Falcon-punching talents to the NFL, Oregon lacks a big physical running back who can pound it inside when needed. James, Barner, and Seastrunk are all incredibly strong for their size, but when Blount (and Jeremiah Masoli) was sharing the ball carrying responsibilities with James it was an effective change-up in running styles.

This juxtaposition of running styles worked well to keep defenses on their heels, so don’t expect a great power running game this season; however, the Ducks might not need one. With all five starting linemen returning, as well as some of the key reserves, James, Barner, and Seastrunk could form the most explosive backfield tandem in the country. And don’t sleep on Dontae Williams , Josh Huff or my new favorite from the Spring Game, Jide Shinaba.

Now about that quarterback position…

University of Oregon is Running Back U: But Which Player is No. 1?

This is still one of my favorite ESPN Mag covers of all time.

It’s only right that the school with the flashiest uniforms and fanciest facilities has the most star players at the flashiest position: running back. Take a look back throughout the decade:

Maurice Morris, Onterrio Smith, Terrance Whitehead, J-Stew, JJ, LeGarrette Blount and LaMichael James. And that doesn’t even count Reuben Droughns or the newest crop of soon-to-be standouts.

Without a doubt, University of Oregon is Running Back U.

And accordingly, that creates quite the controversy in Aaron Fentress’s daily Oregon football all-decade team poll.

Do you go with strong and steady (Jeremiah Johnson, Mo Morris, Terrance Whitehead) or short-lived superstuds (Onterrio Smith, Stewart, LMJ)?

It’s a tough choice, but there’s really no wrong answer.

I’m partial to Smith, because he was the first Duck I ever fell in love with (although at 11, I wasn’t quite old enough to understand the meaning of the Whizzinator). But unfortunately, his career fizzled out and said Whizzinator is now his lone claim to fame.

I would pick LMJ because he was AWESOME in my first year covering the Ducks as more than a fan (and being able to watch a player in person makes you appreciate them that much more), but he needs one more studly year for me to justify putting him atop the list. Although, based on pure talent and potential, he’s probably number one.

That leaves one: Jonathan Stewart. Although I never saw him play in person, his 1,722 yards and third-team all-American performance in 2007 speaks for itself. Plus he helped carry my fantasy team to a championship last season. Great recruit, great guy, great player, great pro. J-Stew embodies everything we want from an Oregon Ducks running back.

Who’s your favorite Oregon Ducks running back?

Rose Bowl Keys, Prediction and Open Thread

You’ll have to excuse me for not finishing with the linebackers and defensive backs. I decided I wanted to actually spend time with friends and family over winter break instead of just writing about Oregon football. Crazy, right?
And I’m writing this from my girlfriend’s cousin’s living room. Lucky for me, no one is up yet.
If you’ve been reading my position analyses so far, then you have a pretty good idea of what I expect to happen. But there are a few keys things that need to happen for the Ducks to get their first Rose Bowl victory in 15 years.
Big Game Masoli: So far, Jeremiah Masoli has been at his best when the pressure is on – both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl, USC, Arizona, etc – but this is by far the biggest of them all (hence, the Rose Bowl nickname).
This is the toughest defense Masoli will have faced in his career, especially with Ohio State’s prowess stopping the run.  The all-conference quarterback needs to get Ed Dickson involved early, speed up the tempo, and keep the Buckeyes defense guessing.
Just a heads up Ohio State fans, Masoli is a little better than Tate Forcier.
Get to Pryor’s Head, and Knee: Terrelle Pryor has had problems keeping his composure this season, even visibly yelling at teammates on the field during the Purdue game. With the news of Pryor’s partially torn PCL, I’m pretty sure I can guess how Nick Aliotti is going to start the game – pressure, pressure and more pressure.
The Ducks need to make Pryor feel uncomfortable, and if the former top recruit starts worrying about his knee more than finding the open receiver downfield, that spells disaster for the Buckeyes.
The 400,000 Duck fans that came down to Pasadena should help too.
Speed Racer: Ohio State has never seen an offense that plays at this fast of a tempo before. They’ve had over a month to prepare, but how will they be able to react on the field with the Ducks no huddle spread?
I feel Ohio State will keep up at first, but Masoli, LaMichael James and company will tire out the bigger, slower Buckeyes. If that happens, this game is over.
Recent Bowl History: How you do in a bowl game is based much more on motivation and desire than actual talent. Like we’ve seen so much this season, the better team often lets down because they think they should be in a better game and have nothing to gain by beating a weaker opponent.
Oregon State went from the Rose Bowl to the MAACO Bowl and got run over, Boise State beat Alabama last year because the Tide went from the championship game to playing a mid-major.
Ohio State is used to playing Texas, USC or an SEC power, will they get up for little ol’ Oregon the same way as the others? (Not that they did well against the others)
Prediction: Let’s just say, if by some chance I woke up and found $500 in my pocket tomorrow, I would parley all of it on Oregon and the over.
Oregon’s tempo wins out and runs away from Ohio State in the end.
Final: Oregon 38, Ohio State 23.
I want to make this a pre-game open thread. What are your thoughts? (Crazy Buckeye fans too)
It's easy: rattle Pryor, win the game.

It's easy: rattle Pryor, win the game.

You’ll have to excuse me for not finishing with the linebackers and defensive backs. I decided I wanted to actually spend time with friends and family over winter break instead of just writing about Oregon football. Crazy, right?

And I’m writing this from my girlfriend’s cousin’s living room. Lucky for me, no one is up yet.

If you’ve been reading my position analyses so far, then you have a pretty good idea of what I expect to happen. But there are a few keys things that need to happen for the Ducks to get their first Rose Bowl victory in 93 years.

Big Game Masoli: So far, Jeremiah Masoli has been at his best when the pressure is on – both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl, USC, Arizona, etc – but this is by far the biggest of them all (hence, the Rose Bowl nickname).

This is the toughest defense Masoli will have faced in his career, especially with Ohio State’s prowess stopping the run.  The all-conference quarterback needs to get Ed Dickson involved early, speed up the tempo, and keep the Buckeyes defense guessing.

Just a heads up Ohio State fans, Masoli is a little better than Tate Forcier.

Get to Pryor’s Head, and Knee: Terrelle Pryor has had problems keeping his composure this season, even visibly yelling at teammates on the field during the Purdue game. With the news of Pryor’s partially torn PCL, I’m pretty sure I can guess how Nick Aliotti is going to start the game – pressure, pressure and more pressure.

The Ducks need to make Pryor feel uncomfortable, and if the former top recruit starts worrying about his knee more than finding the open receiver downfield, that spells disaster for the Buckeyes.

The 400,000 Duck fans that came down to Pasadena should help too.

Speed Racer: Ohio State has never seen an offense that plays at this fast of a tempo before. They’ve had over a month to prepare, but how will they be able to react on the field with the Ducks no huddle spread?

I feel Ohio State will keep up at first, but Masoli, LaMichael James and company will tire out the bigger, slower Buckeyes. If that happens, this game is over.

Recent Bowl History: How you do in a bowl game is based much more on motivation and desire than actual talent. Like we’ve seen so much this season, the better team often lets down because they think they should be in a better game and have nothing to gain by beating a weaker opponent.

Oregon State went from the Rose Bowl to the MAACO Bowl and got run over, Utah beat Alabama last year because the Tide went from the championship game to playing a mid-major.

ESPN’s Ted Miller mentioned that Ohio State is used to playing Texas, USC or an SEC power, will they get up for little ol’ Oregon the same way as the others? (Not that they did well against the others)

Prediction: Let’s just say, if by some chance I woke up and found $500 in my pocket tomorrow, I would parley all of it on Oregon and the over. (Ducks by 3 1/2, over/under 50 1/2)

Oregon’s tempo wins out and runs away from Ohio State in the end.

Final: Oregon 38, Ohio State 23.

I want to make this a pre-game open thread. What are your thoughts? (Crazy Buckeye fans too)

Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the RBs

This play made me salivate.

This play made me salivate.

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the running backs. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the quarterbacks here.

After losing Beanie Wells, a first round pick, last season, there were questions about how effectively the Buckeyes would be able to run the ball. Coach Jim Tressel downplayed it, instead talking up how Terrelle Pryor’s growth over the summer would account for the lack of the workhorse running back they are used to having (Wells, Antonio Pittman and dare I say it, Maurice Clarett).

That didn’t go according to plan, but Ohio State still won the Big Ten (eleven), even though they might as well have been playing against beer-league flag football teams. I mean, their biggest competition was Iowa. If the second best team if your conference can throw five interceptions again Indiana (the Hoosiers!) and still win, yeah, you have a weak conference.

In fact, their leading ball carrier is none other than the quarterback. Not a good sign for a team that is known for grinding it out on the ground. It’s amazing what teams will do to land a top recruit.
Apparently Ohio State was willing to throw their entire offensive strategy out the window. But hey, I guess it was time to change it up. Getting smashed harder than Lindsay Lohan at an open bar in BCS games is only fun for so long.

But in all seriousness, the Buckeyes do have a legitimate threat in the backfield, even though he is third on the team in carries and gets little to no national publicity. For all the press than Pryor and DeVier Posey receive on the offense, junior Brandon Saine goes relatively unnoticed.

In fact, like Bill Livingston said in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the biggest case of tOSU neglect stands 6-2, weighs 217 pounds, ran a faster 100-meter time (10.38 seconds) when he was Ohio’s high school state champion than Ted Ginn Jr., the old Glenville flash, and made second team All-Big Ten, despite having only the third-most carries on his team.

Neither of the Ohio State losses can be blamed on Saine. He received only one carry for two yards against Southern California while sophomore counterpart Daniel Herron ran 18 times for 44 yards, including getting stuffed at the Trojan goal line.

Saine also missed the Purdue game with an injury. But he has gotten healthy and turned on the jets lately, finishing the season strong with four touchdowns in as many games.

It will be intriguing to watch the Duck defense contain the Buckeye backfield, with an uncharacteristically fast offense match up with the speedy Oregon side.

Meanwhile, we all know about LaMichael James. My number one man crush also received Pac-10 freshman of the year and AP Third Team All-American honors.

James more than filled in for LeGarrette Blount; he made fans forget about him. He made me feel like I was playing a video game every time he touched the ball.

Case in point: the UCLA game (fast forward to 55 seconds in).

LMJ’s short stature actually works to his advantage, allowing him to sneak behind the offensive line until he finds the hole and then bursts through it faster than Lance Briggs fled the crime scene after crashing his Lamborghini Murcielago in 2007.

The freshman has the highest yards per carry, at 6.9, than any other running back in a BCS conference.

The re-emergence of Blount only adds to the punch of the Oregon backfield. (See what I did there?)

For the first time all year, Chip Kelly can give LMJ a breather knowing that he won’t have to take a hit in talent at running back. (Oops, I did it again)

The running game has been the strongest point for the Ducks all season long, averaging over 236 yards per game on the ground.

But the Buckeyes are no slouches either, topping 200 a game themselves.

I think it’s safe to say that whoever wins the running game will most likely come out on top.

Rating:

Oregon 10, Buckeyes 8.

Total: Oregon 19, Buckeyes 15.

The Miracle Run Comes to an End as Oregon Lets Down at Stanford

No matter how many Ducks tried, there was just no stopping Toby Gerhart.

No matter how many Ducks tried, there was just no stopping Toby Gerhart.

After the last four weeks, and especially after last week’s blowout of USC, I thought we were invincible. I thought Chip Kelly would never let his team show up unprepared, I thought the defense was for real, and I thought going on the road wouldn’t matter.

But boy, oh, boy was I wrong. And Toby Gerhart was there to remind me; it felt like he personally punched me in the gut on every single one of his 38 dominating carries.

I got too caught up in the winning streak. I didn’t take Stanford seriously. Even if we had played Florida I thought the Ducks would have won going away. I was overconfident. I was naïve. I was cocky.

Not even for one second did the thought of losing cross my mind. I honestly wasn’t even worried until the end of the third quarter, when Gerhart ran in his third touchdown to put the Cardinal up by 17.

At that moment, to quote Kanye West, “It all falls down.”

I could feel the game, and more importantly the national championship slipping away. The Heisman hopes of Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James eroded, just like the defense on those 38 Gerhart carries.

On Bill Simmons’ Levels of Losing this game ranked as a combination of The Alpha Dog and The “This Can’t Be Happening”.

Simmons definition of The Alpha Dog perfectly depicts what happened: “It might have been a devastating loss, but at least you could take solace that a superior player made the difference in the end. Unfortunately, he wasn’t playing for your team… You feel more helpless here than anything.”

On Saturday, Toby Gerhart was the alpha dog. Nothing Oregon did could stop him. His longest run was for 31 yards, yet he compiled over 220. Every carry, the Maxwell Award semi-finalist would break two tackles and then fall forward for six yards. It was heart-wrenching. Every play I knew it was coming, and every play I felt more and more helpless.

And if that weren’t enough, there was definitely a “This Can’t Be Happening” feeling as well. “You’re supposed to win, you expect to win, the game is a mere formality. … Suddenly your team falls behind, your opponents are fired up, the clock is ticking and it dawns on you for the first time, “Oh, my God, this can’t be happening.”

Here are my thoughts on the game:

·    Stanford was far  and away the better team today. I still feel Oregon is better overall, but there is no question they played harder and wanted this game more than the Ducks.

·    All the injuries Oregon has suffered finally started to add up and take effect. Without WT3 and Willie Glasper, the defense was helpless against the pass.

·    Talmadge Jackson alone made Andrew Luck look like John Elway.

·    For the first time in over a month, the defensive line had no push. The Stanford O-Line did a tremendous job of opening holes and giving Luck time in the pocket to find the open receiver.

·    The Ducks had given up 58 points in their previous five games. Then in one game, give up 51 to the Cardinal.

·    Oregon had been giving up 4.6 yards per attempt to Pac-10 quarterbacks; Luck averaged 12.6 yards.

·    Just as important as Gerhart for Stanford, was Chris Owusu. The speed demon put up 197 yards on five returns, giving the Cardinal a short field and recapturing the momentum after every Oregon touchdown.

·    Oregon, meanwhile, had the third best average yards per kickoff return in the country coming into this game, but on nine returns, the Ducks averaged just 19 yards a piece.

·    On the bright side, Oregon still controls their own destiny to the Rose Bowl. If they can get past Arizona in Tuscon, which is no small feat for the Ducks, only a total collapse would keep Oregon out of Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

·    The San Jose Mercury’s Jon Wilner couldn’t have predicted Saturday’s outcome any better. As part of his reasoning for picking Stanford in a “close, entertaining, high-scoring victory”, Wilner said that the atmosphere at Stanford Stadium was a huge edge for the home team.

·    Wilner wrote: “Sure, Autzen Stadium’s a tough place to play with the non-stop, jet-engine noise. But just watch as the laid-back, Riesling-drinking, tailgating-among-the-eucalyptus-tree Stanford crowd lulls the Ducks to sleep.”

·    Wilner couldn’t have been more right. Stanford Stadium has one of the shittiest atmospheres in college football. If it weren’t for us Duck fans, you could have heard a pin drop.

·    This game felt exactly like the Purdue games the past two years, except for the comeback part.

·    I can’t remember the last time Oregon put up 570 yards and lost.

·    At least Nick Allioti took full responsibility for the loss.

·    Allioti looks exactly like John Abruzzi from Prison Break.

·    I hate Stanford’s band. They had no sync, no togetherness. It looked like 50 people wearing red jackets and trumpets wandered on the field and started running around and playing off-key music.

·    And what was with the two guys with fake horns pulling the wagon around the field? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

·    Stanford’s halftime show was even worse than our color guard. I feel like I should have brought pen and paper for notes. Total buzz kill.

·    If losing to Stanford wasn’t enough by itself, the Stanford alum sitting behind me was on his phone giving a play-by-play to his friend. If I weren’t in shock from the loss, I would have turned around and done something politically incorrect.

·    You know those Nike sport specific t-shirts? Well I saw one that said Stanford Studying. I wasn’t even surprised. Only at Stanford.

Oregon-Stanford: Expect the Ducks to Keep Rolling

It turns out that Masoli really is as good as he was in the Holiday Bowl last year. Good news for Oregon. Bad news for Stanford.

It turns out that Masoli really is as good as he was in the Holiday Bowl last year. Good news for Oregon. Bad news for Stanford.

Stanford might have a nicer campus, smarter students, and even a better synchronized swimming team, but when it comes to football, there is no doubt that Oregon comes out on top.

The Ducks are coming off a big win, while the Cardinal have been home resting up during their open date.

This has pushed many pundits to put the Ducks on upset watch this Saturday, but like Rob Moseley from the Register-Guard wrote, “Is an obvious trap game actually a trap game if everybody in the country thinks it’s a trap game?”

Not with Chip Kelly at the helm.

Many coaches spew clichés, but Kelly has more than lived up to his of “one game at a time.” More importantly, the players have bought in 100 percent.

Left tackle Bo Thran echoed the intense focus that Kelly has preached to his team weekly, particularly this week after the tremendous high from beating USC last Saturday. Kelly isn’t worried about a letdown against the Cardinal.

“It’s a special team,” Kelly said. “Their mindset is really good right now. We all live in the moment.”

So what will it take for the Ducks to get their eighth straight win?

There’s no reason to believe that Stanford will be able to slow down the Ducks offense. Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James have emerged as legitimate stars, and Heisman candidates, since the turnaround against Cal in September.

Since the game, Masoli has been the epitome of efficiency, completing over 70 percent of his passes, while running for 7.5 YPC in his 29 attempts.

James, meanwhile, will have a chance to break the 1,000-yard mark for the season this weekend, which would be just the 16th time in Oregon history and the first time ever for a freshman. The diminutive speedster is 16th in the country in rushing yards and third in yards per carry.

James has exploded the last three games, each time surpassing the 150-yard plateau.

Defensively, I expect Nick Allioti to focus on stopping Toby Gerhart, a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award. Stack nine in the box and force Andrew Luck to beat you through the air.

Although Luck definitely has the potential to be a great quarterback, he hasn’t been able to win a game this season when he’s had to do it by himself. The five-star recruit and, of course, valedictorian from Texas is 0-3 in games where he has attempted 30 or more throws.

Bottom line, I expect the Ducks to come out with another win.  Playing on the road is tough, and Stanford is a much improved team under Jim Harbaugh, but Oregon just has too many weapons.

I expect the Cardinal to hang around in the first half, but then the Ducks will run away with it in the third quarter.

Prediction: Oregon 42, Stanford 17