How did the Oregon Ducks rise in the polls are make it to No. 1 in all the major rankings this season? By winning, of course, and winning big. The Ducks have churned up opponents and spit them out this year en route to their first 8-0 record since 1933. Not only are they undefeated, but they’ve been winning win style.
The Ducks opened the year with a cakewalk, like most teams do. Without the suspended LaMichael James, Oregon was still able to run New Mexico off the field, beating the Lobos 72-0 at Autzen Stadium. Kenjon Barner, starting for James, rushed for 147 yards and four touchdowns, in just under two quarters. Sophomore cornerback Cliff Harris added two punt returns for touchdowns.
Oregon got its first real test the next week, traveling to Neyland Stadium to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. After falling behind and a weather delay, the Ducks finally got their act together. Cliff Harris sealed the game on an interception return for a touchdown in the second half. The Ducks returned to the friendly confines of Autzen next week to steamroll the Portland State Vikings.
The meat of the Ducks’ schedule began with the Pac-10 opener at Arizona State. The Sun Devils gave Oregon their best shot, but couldn’t survive seven turnovers, fading down the stretch in a 42-31 loss. Oregon faced their biggest test the next week when the always physical Stanford Cardinal headed to Autzen. Stanford had Oregon on the ropes, down 21-3 in the first quarter, before the Ducks clawed back in and put the game away. James rushed for 257 yards and three touchdowns on national TV, jump-starting his Heisman campaign.
Washington State hosted the Ducks the next week and it wasn’t pretty. Oregon won again, 43-23, but suffered a rash of injuries in the process. Kenjon Barner left the game with a serious head injury, but is expected to finally make his return this week against the Washington Huskies. After a bye week to heal, the Ducks played UCLA in another nationally televised matchup. It wasn’t even close. Oregon’s Darron Thomas threw for 308 yards and led the Ducks to a 60-13 victory over the Bruins.
Oregon made it a Southern California sweep the next week, knocking off the USC Trojans at The Coliseum, 53-32. The Trojans led by three in the third quarter before Oregon ripped off 24 unanswered points to seal the win.
There you have it. Eight games, eight convincing wins and a No.1 ranking. Can the Huskies stop Oregon? Nobody has figured out how to yet.