Last year, on Halloween, the Ducks handed the Pete Caroll-led, sanction-free USC Trojans a beat-down in Eugene.
This Halloween, the Trojans looked to exact revenge under new head coach Lane "No Shame" Kiffin. The result, however, was exactly the same. The Ducks dominated the Trojans in the second half, giving the Trojans their first loss by more than three points this season.
Here are 10 things we learned about the Ducks during their smackdown of the Trojans.
Many (myself included) thought that to defeat USC would be a serious task for the Ducks. It wasn’t. On the road, in the Coliseum, the Ducks manhandled the Trojans. Until this game, USC had only lost two games this season on last second field goals.
Furthermore, Matt Barkley looked like he was coming into his own—having been among the hottest quarterbacks in the nation the past few weeks. But the Ducks still managed to beat them.
USC hung close with the Ducks…until they tired out. The Ducks played hard all game, greatly outperforming the Trojans in the second half. This has been a consistent theme for the Ducks this season, who trailed Stanford in the first half before rumbling to a 20-point win in the second half.
Being able to beat with a competitive program like USC shows that the Ducks can play with the best of them. There hasn’t been a team that has even sniffed victory against the Ducks this year—they need a challenge.
With the frenetic pace of the offense, the Ducks defense doesn’t have to be the best in the nation. More than that, it doesn’t even have to be the best defense in the stadium.
Given the scoring ability of the offense, the defense just has to make some stops during the game.
Darron Thomas has been among the league’s most efficient passers and has led a run-first offense to being a more balanced offense. He’s thrown for 21 touchdowns on a team that is run-centric. Furthermore, he’s been able to run the option to perfection.
Was Jeremiah Masoli that great? Who cares. His replacement is younger, faster and a better passer than Masoli could have ever hoped to be.
Coming into the season, few were talking about LaMichael James’s Heisman campaign. Now, should Auburn and Cam Newton falter, James will be the clear frontrunner.
Unlike the Trojans, the Ducks have gelled as a team because of their offseason troubles. This season looked like it might be a lost season for the Ducks, who had a series of arrests on the team.
But instead, they came together and now sit at the No. 1 spot in the nation.
The Ducks simply won’t take weeks off. Even in easy games against Washington St. and Arizona St., the Ducks came ready to play.
They won’t hit a sleeper team like they did last year with Stanford.
In big-game pressure situations, Chip Kelly can keep his cool.
Kelly has repeatedly found his team trailing this season, only to come out after halftime and simply outplay the other team. For those who don’t think Kelly can handle his team on the national state, watch out.