Oregon Football: 5 Moments That Changed the Ducks' 2011 Season
With the regular season out of the way, Oregon has earned its third straight conference title and are headed to their third straight BCS bowl game.
When returning to the Rose Bowl for the second time in three years, Oregon will be going up against Wisconsin and trying to earn a huge win.
Before the Ducks get that game kicked off, here is a look back at five moments that changed the course of the Ducks season.
Kenjon Barner's Fumble Versus LSU
Coming into the season, Oregon was ranked as the No. 3 team in the nation and had a huge Top-10 game against LSU in Dallas to start the season.
Very early on, Oregon was holding its own and had a lead entering the second quarter. After the defense forced another stop, Oregon was getting the ball back, but unfortunately, Kenjon Barner had the ball stripped away and LSU scored.
From that moment on, the game turned. And LSU took control and took Oregon out of the national spotlight.
Ducks Lose LaMichael James and Then Darron Thomas
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After erasing the memory of the loss in Dallas, Oregon won three straight and were starting to hit their stride as they had back-to-back home games against Cal and Arizona State.
In those games, Oregon would lose both LaMichael James and Darron Thomas to injuries that would cause them both to miss time and would also linger throughout the year.
While these injuries were great for Oregon to see its depth, it was obvious that these were the types of injuries that disrupted Oregon's rhythm.
First Glimpse of Bryan Bennett
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As previously stated, Oregon ran into some injury issues that forced some of the backups into game action. One great thing to come from the injury to Darron Thomas was the ability to see Bryan Bennett and what the future of Oregon looks like.
Bennett showed off his ability to run and pass and was extremely impressive in his time at starter. He has Oregon fans feeling confident about the future.
High One Week, Low the Next
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As the season started to wind down, Oregon headed on the road to take on Stanford in a game that would likely determine the division winner and the conference winner.
With teams falling around the nation, Oregon took advantage of the spotlight placed on this game by delivering another beatdown to Andrew Luck and Stanford, winning 53-30.
As big as that win was, Oregon returned home to play USC and failed to arrive to the game until the second half. Despite falling behind big, the Ducks dug and dug their way out of the hole, only to miss a game-tying field goal with no time left to fall out of all national-title conversation.
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While the loss to USC was a huge disappointment and took the Ducks out of the title conversation, the Ducks managed to rebound by dominating Oregon State in the Civil War and punched their ticket to the conference's first title game.
What would have been great is if the Trojans were not under NCAA sanctions and provided the nation with a rematch. Instead, the UCLA Bruins represented the Pac-12 South by default and did not provide much of a challenge for the Ducks.
Oregon went on to beat the Bruins and will now represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl for the second time in three years.