By Mitch Light
At the risk of stating the obvious: Oregon is on quite a tear in the Pac-10-turned-12. The Ducks just won their 19th straight league game — and did so in impressive fashion — and they have won 27 of their last 28 conference games dating back to the 2008 season.
The most impressive stat during their winning streak: The Ducks have won those 19 straight by an average of 20.6 points.
How does this compare with USC’s run of dominance in the Pac-10 in the mid-2000s? I’m glad I asked. From late in the 2003 season through the midpoint of the ’06 season, the Trojans won 27 straight league games by an average of 24.7 points.
So Oregon, while clearly dominant, hasn’t quite reached the standard set by Pete Carroll’s teams. And, most important, USC won two national titles during that stretch.
Oregon was close last year, and might very well be ranked No. 2 in the BCS had it not opened the season against LSU in Dallas. There were concerns heading into the season — Oregon lost key parts on both lines of scrimmage — but the Ducks are still an elite team with one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. Oregon leads the Pac-12 (and ranks second in the nation) with 22 plays of 40 yards or more. Next on the list is Washington with 12.
The Ducks have also proven they can play a little defense. Two weeks ago, they held Washington to a season-low 17 points and only 278 yards of offense. Then, in the big win at Stanford last Saturday night, Oregon held the Cardinal to a season-low 30 points and a Pac-12-season-low 385 total yards.
Oregon, No. 4 in the latest BCS rankings, closes the season with home games against USC and Oregon State. The Ducks have to win one game to secure a spot in the first-ever Pac-12 Championship Game, which will be played at Autzen Stadium. Win that, and it’s back to the Rose Bowl for the second time in three years … unless, of course, things break just right and Oregon grabs the No. 2 spot in the BCS and finds itself back in the national title game.
Stranger things have happened. Just ask Les Miles.
AROUND THE PAC-12
• Keith Price’s efficiency has taken a hit as Washington’s schedule has toughened up. Through the first six games, the Huskies’ sophomore quarterback threw 21 touchdowns and only four interceptions. In the last four games — at Stanford, vs. Arizona, vs. Oregon, at USC — he has thrown four touchdowns and six interceptions.
• Utah has averaged 33.2 points in its six wins and 13.0 points in its three losses.
• The Utes are one of only two teams in the nation that has not allowed a play from scrimmage of at least 50 yards. Michigan is the other.
• Oregon has four of the top seven rushers in the league, as ranked by yards per carry — D’Anthony Thomas (7.96), LaMichael James (7.89), Kenjon Barner (6.63) and Tra Carson (5.74).
• Stanford is the only team in the country that is perfect in the Red Zone — 57 scores in 57 trips, with 45 touchdowns and 12 field goals.
• Oregon State has scored a total of 27 points in its last three games. It’s the worst three-game stretch for the Beavers since 1997, when they scored a total of 21 points in losses to Cal (14), Arizona (7) and USC (0).
• Cal has allowed a total of 23 points in its last three Pac-12 wins.