Forget the Polls, Oregon Is the Best Team in the Nation
There's no more denying it. After its 45-24 win at No. 16 Washington Saturday, the time to celebrate Oregon as the best team in college football has arrived.
The Huskies brought everything they had against Oregon on both sides of the ball—and lost by three touchdowns.
Another week, another blowout.
The Ducks pulled away in the fourth quarter with swarming defense and their patented offense after Washington cut the deficit to one score on a 25-yard Bishop Sankey touchdown rush late in the third quarter.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota scored on both passing and rushing plays for the eighth straight game, as Oregon assistant athletic director Andy McNamara noted on Twitter. The sensational Duck sophomore did both in the decisive fourth quarter.
Mariota is charging ahead in the early Heisman Trophy race. He has yet to concede a turnover halfway through the season.
His error-free play broke an impressive initial run for the Husky defense against opposing quarterbacks. Per McNamara:
Oregon came into Saturday's Top 20 showdown 5-0 with an average margin of victory of 47.4 points per game, but it had yet to face a real test.
Washington provided that test, and Oregon passed with flying colors.
Behind Mariota's predictably outstanding performance, the Ducks rolled off 631 yards of total offense. Washington was allowing 287.8 coming into Saturday's rivalry and showed off why early on. The fired-up Huskies kept Oregon out of the end zone for much of the first quarter, the lone score coming on an iffy booth review off fourth down.
Washington was Oregon's first opponent not to surrender multiple scores in the first quarter.
No matter for the Ducks. They weathered the initial storm by playing their own brand of tenacious defense, and they led by multiple scores at halftime after giving up just one first-half score.
Washington's 24 points were its fewest of the season. Derrick Malone led an outstanding performance from a Duck defense that continues to prove its worth.
Both sides of the football were clicking for the Ducks, and they did it all without star running back and multidimensional playmaker De'Anthony Thomas. The junior star dressed but didn't play.
Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich emphasized the significance of a total team in in his postgame press conference, per the Daily Emerald.
Helfrich on responding in a close game: "We responded very well. The resolve of our team is special."— Emerald Sports (@ODEsports) October 13, 2013
Husky Stadium remains a home-away-from-home for the Ducks. Oregon has won its last five trips to one of the Pac-12's most intimidating venues.
Previous Top 10 ranked opponents to visit Husky Stadium, Stanford and Oregon State, left with losses.
This year's Huskies were a week removed from taking the nation's No. 5 ranked team to the final possession.
No longer can Oregon's dominant resume be dismissed because of its schedule. The Ducks are proving their BCS Championship mettle each week, and Saturday's 21-point win solidifies Oregon as the early front-runner in the national title race.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer for B/R. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.
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