Oregon Football: Why Kenjon Barner Has Ducks Headed Toward BCS Title Game

Ryan DavenportContributor INovember 4, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 03:  Running back Kenjon Barner #24 of the Oregon Ducks carries the ball against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 3, 2012  in Los Angeles, California.  Oregon won 62-51.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It's official, the University of Oregon Ducks are unstoppable. 

At least until they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Discover BCS National Championship Game on January 7, that is.

Led by Kenjon Barner, who has been sensational all season long, the Ducks have conquered every opponent they've faced, and put on a show against No. 17 USC on Saturday, despite a 51-point performance from Matt Barkley's vaunted Trojan offense.

Even former Duck and current San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James can't help but be wildly impressed by this Oregon team. 

Via USA Today's George Schroeder:

He walked off the field, shaking his head and marveling, not quite believing what he'd just witnessed. For the past few years, LaMichael James was the focal point of Oregon's scoring machine. He sparked plenty of pyrotechnics.

A 62-51 victory over USC, though – this was something else entirely.

"You know before high school games when they run through the paper? That's what it looked like out there," James said. "It's probably the most impressive offense I've seen in my life."

Against the Trojans, Barner did James proud, by rushing for an otherworldly five touchdowns and 321 yards, and in the process, announced to the rest of the nation that the Ducks are for real.

At this point, the Ducks can't be ranked outside of the top three, especially after Notre Dame needed overtime to put away the 4-4 Pittsburgh Panthers, and if Barner continues to destroy defenses as he has through Oregon's first nine games, they'll be No. 2 very, very soon.

That's because like James, Barner is a gamebreaker who rises to the occasion when the Ducks need him most, just as he did against USC.

Alongside preseason Heisman contender De'Anthony Thomas, the Ducks' backfield has been too much to handle for every opponent they've faced, which is why Oregon leads the country in points scored, with an eye-popping average of over 54 points per game.

Now, with big games against Stanford and Oregon State looming, the Ducks will need Barner to continue his dominance, but given the senior back's consistency this season, that shouldn't be a problem.

He's second in the nation with 19 touchdowns, but it's the timing of them that depict his importance to the Ducks, as evidenced by his three second-half scores against USC on Saturday.

The BCS rankings may not have fully appreciated Barner and the Ducks' performances to date, but they will.

And when they send out the invitations to the national title game this winter, the Ducks will be headed to their second BCS national championship game in three years.