Three minutes following two and half quarters of dogged defense in a 16-13 slugfest in Texas, and one team’s title hopes would plummet like a limp Duck shotgunned out of the sky.
All summer long feathered fans across the country boasted of this new Nike-inspired dynasty while annoyed rivals gnashed teeth. Mocking and jeering ensued, with Duck fans insisting the rest of the country was jealous. Trojan fans, already eliminated in postseason play by our truth-consumed pals at the NCAA, prayed we would not be subject to another 2010.
And their prayers were seemingly answered when Tiger defensive end Sam Montgomery stripped Heisman-hyped Duck running back De’Anthony Thomas on their own 21-yard line halfway through the third period.
LSU’s safety Eric Reid gladly accepted the gift, and the wheels began to fall off when LSU converted it to a 23-13 lead when Michael Ford scampered five yards for a touchdown.
Demonstrating how rare indeed twelve-game winning streaks are to open a season, the dark-clad Oregon squad surrendered the ensuing kickoff when LSU safety Craig Loston sucker-punched the ball loose, and six plays later the Ducks saw their dreams fizzle for good in what Duck writers claimed was the "Game of the Year."
LSU made it 30-13 on Spencer Ware’s one-yard run. And when LSU’s Drew Alleman ripped a 32-yard field goal a few moments later to drop Oregon 20 points behind, the Duck's fate was indeed sealed.
Still amped up and just positive their beloved boys would romp back like they constantly did last year, Oregon’s depleted offensive line demonstrated why it’s unwise to declare a national championship before the first football in fall has been snapped.
There would be no comeback. Not this year. Especially when Darron Thomas was constantly running for his life in the backfield!
A scant fifteen yards of total offense in the third period compared with LSU’s 122. The Tigers had six first downs. The Ducks?
It looked exactly like past Duck teams, only sadly from the mid 1980's.
Nor was it the hurry-up terror streak opponents feared last year. Wondercoach Chip Kelly had no answers as his young line often looked confused and unready.
Critics of the Duck’s preseason rating felt vindicated after an offseason of amped-up Oregonians popping off with insults over anyone who dared doubt.
But this time the cutting edge helmets and the day-glow outlined numbers looked pathetically out of place, and Heisman Trophy finalists looked painfully ordinary. Especially when LSU, clad in their traditional yet somewhat boring colors of yellow helmets and white jerseys, methodically destroyed everything Oregon could come up with in the final quarter.
Considering LSU was without their starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and linebacker Josh Johns, both suspended indefinitely for springtime knuckleheadedness, this contest could have been even more lopsided.
As it was it seemed over with a quarter to go, with college football fans wondering if this might not be the first of a handful more to come for the Ducks of central Oregon in 2011.