Top 10 Oregon Ducks Football Teams of All-Time

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Athlon Sports ranks the best Oregon teams since the AP Poll debuted in 1934.

<p> Top 10 Oregon Ducks Football Teams of All-Time</p>

No program in the nation has elevated themselves in the college football hierarchy over the last 15 years more than the Oregon Ducks. All eight double-digit win seasons in program history have taken place since 2000. Five of the school's eight conference championships have come since the turn of the millennium as well.

Much of this growth can be attributed to great coaching — and NIKE. Rich Brooks, Mike Bellotti and Chip Kelly have been brilliant hires but Phil Knight’s overwhelming influence (and money) has gone a long way in building the Ducks into a national recruiting powerhouse.

But how would Joey Harrington’s team compete against Darron Thomas’ squad? Could the historic 1994 Rose Bowl team hang with the 2011 Rose Bowl champions? The Ducks have claimed eight conference championships since the AP Era debuted in 1934, but which was the best? And was the best team in school history one that didn't even win the league? The fact of the matter is no one will ever know for sure, so trying to rank the best teams in Ducks' history is virtually impossible.

But we're going to try anyway.

1. 2010 (12-1, 9-0)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly

The most dominant regular season in program history began with a 48-13 showcase in vaunted Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. Wins over three ranked Pac-10 teams later and the Ducks finished the regular season 12-0 as Pac-10 champions. Record-setting quarterback Darron Thomas and Doak Walker winner LaMichael James led an offense that scored a school-record 611 points (since broken). Names like Casey Matthews, Kenny Rowe, John Boyett and Brandon Bair led what has to be considered a very underrated defense. The Ducks lost a heart-breaker in the national championship game against Auburn 22-19, but this defense held Cam Newton and the Tigers to their second-lowest output of the year (17, Mississippi State). This team was one tackle or blocked kick away from winning the school’s first national championship.

Related: Top 10 Notre Dame Fighting Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 15 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Teams of All-Time

2. 2001 (11-1, 8-1)
Head Coach: Mike Bellotti

Led by Heisman Trophy finalist Joey Harrington, these Ducks rolled through the Pac-10 en route to the program's first outright conference championship since 1994 and just its second since 1957. A deep and talented offensive skill group — Maurice Morris, Onterrio Smith, Samie Parker — helped the Ducks defeat four ranked teams, including a 38-16 destruction of No. 3 Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl. In fact, if not for the national championship being played in Pasadena, Calif., this team likely would have captured Oregon's first Rose Bowl win since 1917. This offense scored 412 points, which was good for second all-time in school history at the time, and no Oregon team has finished higher in the final AP Poll than the ’01 squad (No. 2). A seven-point home shootout loss to a nine-win Stanford team was the only thing keeping this team from being the only unbeaten squad in Ducks history.

3. 2012 (12-1, 8-1)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly

Quarterbacked by Marcus Mariota, this Oregon team was never ranked outside of the AP's top 5. The offense also featured Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas and tied a school record for points scored with 645. The Ducks led the nation in turnover margin and destroyed five ranked teams en route to a tie for the best AP finish in school history (No. 2). A three-point overtime loss to Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champ Stanford not only kept the Ducks from winning the Pac-12 title, but also cost Oregon a chance at a second BCS National Championship game berth.

4. 2011 (12-2, 8-1)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly

A brutal neutral field loss to eventual SEC champ LSU in the season opener and bizarre home upset to USC were the only blemishes on the Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champions’ resume in ’11. This offense, led by Darron Thomas at quarterback and a three-headed monster at running back, set a school record for points scored with 645 (tied one year later). Wins over three ranked opponents, including No. 3 Stanford and No. 9 Wisconsin highlighted one of the best seasons in school history. One that ended with a No. 4 ranking in the final AP Poll, which is just one of four top-five finishes in program history.

5. 2000 (10-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Mike Bellotti

A preview of things to come the following year, the 2000 team played six ranked opponents (beating four) and finished seventh in the final AP poll. A three-way tie atop the Pac-10 with Washington (win) and Oregon State (loss), resulted in the Huskies going to Pasadena, Calif., to play in the Rose Bowl while the Ducks flew south to San Diego to play in the Holiday Bowl against Texas. Harrington, Morris and Parker showed flashes of brilliance in 2000 before taking their play to the next level the following season (see No. 2). This team was the first in school history to win 10 games in a single season.

6. 2009 (10-3, 8-1)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly took over for Mike Bellotti as a relative unknown and proved in one year he was the right guy for the job. His team led the league in scoring offense and rushing en route to the school’s first Rose Bowl berth since 1994. The season got started in bad fashion with the “Blount Punch” and a loss to Boise State but ended with a Pac-10 championship. This team faced six ranked opponents, going 4-2, and finished 11th in the final AP Poll. Jeremiah Masoli and LaMicheal James were virtually unstoppable in the backfield for Kelly’s first team.

7. 2005 (10-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Mike Bellotti

This team didn’t win the Pac-10 championship. It didn’t win its bowl game against Oklahoma. And it didn’t win any major awards or set any school records. But from a pure talent perspective, few Oregon teams can match the ’05 roster. A loss to No. 1 USC was the only regular season blemish and wins over ranked Fresno State, Arizona State and Cal dot the resume. The backfield featured Kellen Clemens and Dennis Dixon at quarterback with Jonathan Stewart, Terrence Whitehead and Jeremiah Johnson at running back. Demetrius Williams posted one of the greatest receiving years in school history and all-universe nose tackle Haloti Ngata spearheaded the defense. Depsite the loss to the Sooners to end the year, Oregon finished 12th in the final AP Poll.

8. 2008 (10-3, 7-2)
Head Coach: Mike Bellotti

Mike Bellotti’s final team was one of his best. The 2008 team had two 1,000-yard rushers in Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount as Jeremiah Masoli quarterbacked the first team to score 500 points in school history (545). Jeff Maehl, Terence Scott, Jaison Williams and Ed Dickson formed one of the best receiving corps in school history as well. But what made this team one of the best was the defense. In particular, the secondary was loaded with T.J. Ward, Jairus Bryd, Walter Thurmond III and Patrick Chung. This group went 2-1 against ranked opponents and finished the year as one of Oregon’s seven top-10 teams (AP No. 10).

9. 1994 (9-4, 7-1)
Head Coach: Rich Brooks

After decades of turmoil, Rich Brooks finally broke through with the school’s first conference championship in nearly 40 years. Non-conference losses to Hawaii and Utah early in the year were quickly turned into a 7-1 Pac-10 record — including wins over a ranked USC, Washington and Arizona. Danny O’Niel, Dino Philyaw and Ricky Whittle led the offense that returned Oregon to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1958.

10a. 1948: (9-2, 7-0)
Head Coach: Jim Aiken

Strangely, this Pacific Coast Conference co-champion team played seven of 11 games on the road but didn’t lose a game in league play. It finished No. 9 in the final AP Poll, which was the first and only top-10 finish for Oregon until the 2000 team finished seventh. The defense allowed just 9.4 points per game.

10b. 1957 (7-4, 6-2)
Head Coach: Len Casanova

It didn’t wow in the statistical or win-loss categories but this is one of just four teams in school history to play in the Rose Bowl. This team is also the only Ducks team to win a conference championship (PCC) between 1950 and 1993. It went 2-2 against four ranked opponents, including a narrow 10-7 loss to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Oregon lost all four games by a grand total of 16 points and had three three-point losses.

The best of the rest:

1999 (9-3) Head Coach: Mike Bellotti
1998 (8-4) Head Coach: Mike Bellotti
2007 (9-4) Head Coach: Mike Bellotti
1995 (9-3) Head Coach: Mike Bellotti
1959 (8-2) Head Coach: Len Casanova

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