Why It's Time to Start Treating Oregon as the No. 1 Team, Not Alabama

Randy ChambersAnalyst INovember 5, 2012

I think Oregon just scored another touchdown.

The performance last weekend over the USC Trojans was so impressive that it may be time to begin treating Chip Kelly's Ducks as the No. 1 team in the country. Yes, I know Alabama just beat the LSU Tigers and are still undefeated, but there is no team in the country that looks as fascinating as Oregon right about now.

The way the Ducks have just steamrolled right over their opponents lately, there is little doubt that they are at least the second-best team in the country.

But here is why you could make a case for Oregon being the top dog heading into the final few weeks of the college football regular season.



Nobody Can Keep Up with This Offense

There is not one offense that can match this Ducks team on the offensive side of the ball. You may think that this is the same, ordinary Oregon team that just racks up a bunch of statistics, but this year’s version is probably the best we have ever seen.

The Ducks are not only scoring eight more points than last year’s team, but are much faster and running a lot more plays in a single game. Last season, the Ducks ran 1,015 plays in 14 games, which come out to 72.5 plays a contest. This year’s club is currently averaging 81.2 plays per game, which is simply insane and proves that the offense is more efficient than it was a season ago.

What makes the whole thing scarier is that the Ducks starters on the offensive side of the ball don't even play much in the second half, as the victory has been earned in the first couple of quarters of play. If Oregon truly wanted to keep its foot on other teams necks, you would have seen numbers we have never seen before and a couple of 100-point performances.

With the addition of quarterback Marcus Mariota, Oregon has become that much more potent on offense. Not only is he a threat running the football, but he is completing 70 percent of his passes and seems to make the right decision with the football at all times.

With Kelly having his best quarterback ever running this offense, it gives this offense many more options to hurt defenses. Remember some guy named De'Anthony Thomas? He has only touched the ball 90 times on the offensive side of the ball in the first nine games, and the team is still doing what it's doing to defenses. Scary thought, huh?

Former Duck star LaMichael James said this is the best offense he has ever seen in his life and according to Stewart Mandel of SI.com, USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin couldn't believe what this unit did to his players.

"It's mind-boggling," said a defeated Kiffin. "I've never heard of that many yards."

It is one thing to have a talented offense that can score points, but the Ducks have taken things to a completely different level and are as explosive as they have ever been. This isn't the same offense that we saw in 2010 against Auburn, which barely lost the national championship, and it isn't the same unit that everybody enjoyed watching last year.

This team is even better and hasn't even shown us what it is truly capable of producing if the entire unit played the whole game and the "Black Mamba" was used more than he is.

Alabama has arguably the best defense in the country, but you would be foolish to think that this unit wouldn't be able to move the football, even against a defense such as the Crimson Tide. I mean, just check out what Nick Saban said about the no-huddle offense according to Tim Rohan of the New York Times.

I don’t have anything against no-huddle. Saban said, adding: It’s a tremendous advantage to the offense. So I don’t blame any offensive coach for wanting to do it, and taking advantage of it, deceiving the defense with the pace of the game, whatever you want to call it. But I just think that someone should examine: is this where we want this to go for player safety?

If I were a coach that had to possibly put together a game plan to stop this offense, I would be scared as well.



Defense Isn't as Bad as You Think

The main reason everybody laughs at the thought of Oregon winning this year’s national championship is that they believe the Ducks don't play defense.

Not so fast.

The defense is at a huge disadvantage because of the amount of time it is on the football field. Due to the offense scoring so often and so quickly, the defense rarely gets time to rest and has been on the field much longer than your average unit. In fact, the Oregon defense has seen 698 plays this year, which is 10th most in the Pac-12 and tied for 105th in the country.

To really judge a defensive unit that has been on the field as much as the Ducks, you would have to take a look at yard-per-play average. Oregon is only allowing 4.91 yards per play this season, which is currently good for 27th in college football. Yes, that is better than Georgia, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech.

So much for poor defensive play.

The Ducks have racked up 24 sacks, are holding opponents to only 31 percent on third-down attempts, have allowed the third fewest plays of over 30 yards in the country (6) and have forced 26 turnovers, which is tied for the third most in college football.

The Ducks have gotten much bigger on the defensive line, as players such as Taylor Hart and Dion Jordan are future NFL players. The secondary is led by shutdown cornerback Terrance Mitchell, and it also has a playmaking safety in Avery Patterson, who has taken two interceptions back for touchdowns this year.

Sure, the 51 points given up to USC doesn't look pretty in the box score, but take into account that the defense was on the field for 80 plays and facing one of the more talented offenses in the country.

With the up-tempo offense that the Ducks run, points given up on defense come with the territory, and still no team has even come close to keeping up with them.

Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.