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For 58 minutes in January, Oregon played well enough to be the national champions.
With many key players back and the bitter disappointment of being so close to the ultimate goal still very much alive, the Ducks will once again be in the title hunt.
Oregon will once again be built upon the "win the day" philosophy of running a quick-strike spread attack built on the run. LaMichael James returns to defend his national rushing crown and will once again have speedy backup Kenjon Barner behind him.
Quarterback Darron Thomas can beat opponents with both his arm and his legs, but without his top two receivers, his effectiveness may come more from the former.
While the offense should be just fine, it's the defense that will prove troublesome in 2011.
Only two starters return from a talented front seven, including their heart and soul, All-American linebacker Casey Matthews. Complicating matters on the backend is the indefinite suspension of their best defender, cornerback Cliff Harris, who will at least miss the season opener.
Yeah, about that season opener...
It comes against LSU in Arlington, Texas, in a huge matchup between national title hopefuls. With the size and athleticism of the Tigers, Oregon's inexperienced defense will have their hands full and then some. As for conference play, they must face their chief competition in the Pac-12 North on the road.
While Oregon is extremely talented and building the kind of perpetual Pac-10/12 contender that USC did in the 2000s, this has the makings of an off year in Eugene.