Friday, October 22, 2010

#1 Oregon 60, UCLA 13

Oregon, celebrating its first outing ever as the AP No. 1, beat the Bruins 60-13 on Thursday night.

Darron Thomas #1 of the Oregon Ducks throws a pass against Tony Dye #6 of the UCLA Bruins on October 21, 2010 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Darron Thomas threw for a career-high 308 yards and three touchdowns and Oregon (7-0, 4-0 Pac-10) stopped a run of losses for No. 1 teams. Alabama lost to South Carolina two weekends ago and Ohio State lost at Wisconsin last week. The last time the No. 1 team lost in three consecutive weeks was November 1960, when Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri all fell.

LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks runs the ball against Sean Westgate #11 of the UCLA Bruins on October 21, 2010 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

LaMichael James, the nation’s top rusher, finished with 123 yards and two TDs on the ground for the Ducks after spending part of the first quarter on the sideline with an apparent injury. Reserve Remene Alston ran for three scores. James, getting increasing Heisman Trophy buzz, went down late in the first with what appeared to be an ankle injury. But before long, the dynamic back was high-stepping on the sidelines and returned. James has 971 yards in six games, an average of 161.8. It was the sophomore’s 14th career game with at least 100 yards.

The Bruins (3-4, 1-3) were without quarterback Kevin Prince, who did not suit up because of a knee injury. He was replaced by sophomore Richard Brehaut, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 159 yards. Brehaut, who made his first career start earlier this season in UCLA’s 42-28 victory over Washington State, ran for a 6-yard score with 1:53 left in the game.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oregon soars to No. 1 in AP poll

Known for its ever-changing, often outrageous uniforms and a point-a-minute offense, Oregon now has a new distinction: No. 1 team in the country. The Ducks climbed to the top spot for the first time Sunday, moving up one position during an off week after previously top-ranked Ohio State lost 31-18 at Wisconsin on Saturday night.

“Whether we’re No. 1 in the country or 101 it won’t affect how we prepare. But the only important thing is to be No. 1 in a month and a half on Dec. 5,” Chip Kelly. That’s when the final BCS standings come out. The first came out Sunday night and had Oklahoma first with Oregon second and Boise State third.

In the AP poll, which is not part of the BCS standings, Boise State also moved up one place to No. 2. Oklahoma jumped three spots to No. 3, passing No. 4 TCU. Auburn moved up two spots to fifth, while the Buckeyes dropped to 11th.

Oregon becomes the 43rd team to hold the No. 1 ranking in the AP media poll, which dates to 1936. The last time a team was No. 1 for the first time was almost 20 years ago to the day, when Virginia rose to No. 1 on Oct. 14, 1990.

Ohio State’s loss came a week after then-No. 1 Alabama was beaten by South Carolina. Heisman Trophy contender LaMichael James and the Ducks will try to avoid three straight weeks of No. 1 losing when they play at home against UCLA on Thursday night.

The Ducks received 39 first-place votes and 1,471 points. Boise State had 15 first-place votes and TCU (three) and Oklahoma (three) also got votes as the top team in the country.

The rest of the AP top 10 was LSU at No. 6, followed by Alabama, Michigan State, Utah and Wisconsin, which jumped eight spots after its big win at Camp Randall Stadium.

The coaches’ poll had the same top nine as the AP poll.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

#3 Oregon 43, Washington State 23

LaMichael James scored three touchdowns, including an 84-yard scoring reception, and Oregon shook Washington State in the second half for a 43-23 win on Saturday. But this wasn't the blowout most expected. And whether it was the lingering image of Kenjon Barner being taken to the hospital following a scary collision or the improvement of Washington State, the Ducks made just enough plays to hold off the pesky Cougars.

Oregon (6-0, 3-0) was a 36-point favorite, yet led just 36-23 late in the third quarter. Part of that could have been the scary sight of Barner laying motionless on the field in the first quarter. Barner was flattened on a kickoff return by Washington State's Anthony Carpenter. As Carpenter ran full speed through a block, he collided with Barner, first glancing off Barner's shoulder and then colliding with his helmet.

Barner fumbled and crumpled to the turf. Trainers quickly rushed out and tended to Barner for more than 10 minutes, at one point bringing out a neck brace and backboard. But Barner eventually sat up, walked with assistance to a stretcher and was transported by ambulance to Pullman Regional Hospital where he was listed in stable condition.

Barner wasn't the only injury for the Ducks to deal with. Quarterback Darron Thomas left in the second quarter with a right shoulder injury that he said afterward he could have come back from, but was held out for precautionary reasons. Thomas tried warming up on the sideline, but Kelly decided to rest his starter.

And why not with the way Nate Costa played. Costa led a trio of scoring drives including his own 18-yard TD run early in the second half to give Oregon a 36-17 lead. Costa ran for 84 yards and threw for another 151 on 13 of 15 passing. Jeff Maehl caught 10 passes for 119 yards, including a screen pass he took 34 yards for a touchdown with 11:45 left that sealed the victory.

Cliff Harris added a 67-yard punt return touchdown in the first half, his third punt return score of the season. James finished for 136 yards on 25 carries, more than half those yards coming on two runs against a Washington State defense giving up more than 43 per game.

The Ducks are 6-0 for the first time since 2002, but that 2002 season provides warnings for Oregon. After beating UCLA 31-30 to improve to 6-0, the Ducks dropped six of their final seven, including a 38-17 loss to Wake Forest in the now defunct Seattle Bowl.

Monday, October 04, 2010

#4 Oregon 52, #9 Stanford 31

The Ducks (5-0, 2-0 Pac-10) fell behind 21-3 in the first quarter of the frenzied game, but forced two crucial turnovers and held the Cardinal scoreless in the second half. LaMichael James ran for a career-high 257 yards and three touchdowns.

It was Oregon’s 13th straight win at Autzen Stadium and 10th consecutive Pac-10 victory. The Cardinal (4-1, 1-1) have not won a game while ranked in the top 10 since 1970.

The game lived up to the hype as a battle of offenses. Oregon, averaging 560 yards of total offense going into the game, had 626 yards. The Cardinal had 518. Thomas completed 20-of-29 passes, and while he was intercepted twice, Oregon coach Chip Kelly said the key was that Thomas wasn’t unnerved by it all. Stanford’s Andrew Luck was 29 of 46 for 241 yards and two scores. He was also intercepted twice.

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