With the Alabama Crimson Tide rolling back to sea, the Oregon Ducks will ride the wave of their 59-17 victory over the California Golden Bears on Saturday to the nation's No. 1 ranking.
It was another scintillating performance for the Ducks that will find them picking up all those first-place votes vacated by Alabama.
The Crimson Tide fell to No. 15 Texas A&M, 29-24, before the Ducks took the field Saturday evening. The loss had to create a huge buzz for the Ducks as they took the field, and they came out ready to go. Unfortunately for Oregon, the injuries quickly mounted.
Among other injuries, Oregon watched as Heisman hopeful Kenjon Barner went down with a hand issue and then starting quarterback Marcus Mariota had some upper-body issues.
Both had to leave the field and miss game action, and the Oregon offense understandably sputtered a bit.
In fact, Oregon had just a 14-10 lead in the second quarter, until the Ducks booted a field goal to make it 17-10 with just over six minutes until halftime.
Shortly thereafter, Oregon gained its firepower back as Barner and Mariota both returned, and they blew the Bears right of their own field after that.
Barner was used sparingly, but Mariota actually went on to throw for 377 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
It was impressive that the Ducks had the depth to weather these injuries, and then that they were able to so quickly get their groove back.
There is going to be no doubt in the minds of humans who the No. 1 team in the nation is after this performance. However, there will be some doubt once the computers get involved.
Oregon entered this week at No. 3 in the BCS standings while Kansas State was No. 2, despite the Ducks leading the Wildcats in both the AP and the USA Today coaches' poll.
The Wildcats roared to a 23-10 victory over TCU on Saturday. It was a solid, yet unspectacular performance. Oregon's performance was spectacular.
The Ducks will be the No. 1 team in both polls, and I fully expect them to get almost all of the first-place votes.
They may still be relegated to second in the BCS standings, but don't let that fool you. There is no doubt in those with free will which team should be the nation's No. 1.
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