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Oregon Football: Why the Ducks Can Win Title Despite Defensive Woes

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Oregon Football: Why the Ducks Can Win Title Despite Defensive Woes
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Celebrating touchdowns, and lots of them, but is there enough D?

There is the adage that "offense wins games but defense wins championships." 

But does that time-honored statement hold true in the case of the 2012 Oregon Ducks? 

After moving up to No. 2 in the polls, they sit behind only the Alabama Crimson Tide and are making their push for a BCS championship.

They've done it all with a very mediocre defense. The Ducks hold opponents to 22.9 points per game, but haven't had many close calls as their offense has generated 54.3 points per game.

Last week, against then-No. 17 USC, things were a little different. The Trojans put up 51 on the Ducks' defense and amassed 615 total yards. USC's senior quarterback Matt Barkley threw for 474 yards with a 64.8 percent completion ratio while posting a QB rating of 163.3. The Ducks defense is not good.

But will it matter?

It may not until they face the true No. 1 team in the nation.  

Alabama has the best defense in the country and it should be enough to slow down Oregon's high-powered offensive attack. If it does, will they be able to score enough to beat the Crimson Tide if their defense is struggling with a top-flight program?

Last week was their first game that was closer than 20 points, and USC exposed a lot of weaknesses. It could have easily resulted in a loss for the Ducks, but Barkley resigned himself to the fact that the Trojans just couldn't capitalize on the mass yardage they were racking up.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Can a defenseless team really end up No. 1 this year?

"We've done a great job of moving the ball since the beginning of the season, and we've just got to do a better job of putting the ball in the end zone," Barkley said.

What if other teams, specifically Alabama, or even Notre Dame, are able to put the ball in the end zone? Could the Ducks lack of 'D' end up costing them a chance at a BCS title?

Alabama averages 38.4 points per game and has one of the better rushing attacks in the nation with T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy both capable of having huge rushing nights. Factor in A.J. McCarron's 66.7 percent completion ratio and 1,849 yards on the season, and that is an offense that can give the Ducks plenty of trouble.

It really all comes down to whether Chip Kelly can keep the Ducks offense rolling and scoring tons of points, as they always do. A defensive quick fix seems unlikely, and for as good as this Oregon team is, it might not culminate in a championship without some help from their defense. 

The hope is that the offense is enough, that the high-powered Ducks attack continues to score over 50 points per game, rendering defense not as much of a priority.

It's not as though the Crimson Tide are the only contenders that the Ducks have to deal with, but they are the most prominent, and the only team ahead of Oregon right now. Kansas State and Notre Dame both pose significant threats and even though Georgia and Florida have both lost, they can't be counted out either.

And it just can't be counted out that a team with no defense can win a championship. The Ducks may have given up 51 to USC, but they did still score more, and that is how you win games after all. 

There certainly won't be an asterisk next to the BCS championship just because it is gained while giving up 50-plus points to the Tide, or whichever opponent they happen to encounter when this season wraps up.

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