Brother v. Brother: Debating the Ducks' national title hopes, fears, & the Pac-10's most overrated team

Everyone has an arch nemesis. Mine just happens to be my older brother. But our mutual hatred (okay, maybe that's an exaggeration) has led to many an entertaining discussion through the years. And because much of the debate has centered on college sports, and the Ducks in particular (we're both die-hards), it seems only appropriate we take these debates to the blogosphere to settle them once and for all. (I mean, who wouldn't want public affirmation that Big Bro's always wrong and I'm always right?) Coming to you weekly (we hope) from here on out, we officially introduce the weekly Brother v. Brother ATQ Sibling Blogger Debate, affectionately known as Sh*t My Brother Says.

GrumpyJDH: Do I get a proper introduction at least? Man. All you really need to know about me, folks, is that, unlike Lil Bro and about half a million other Duck fans who make a similar claim, I actually WAS there when Kenny Wheaton scored. As a student. That means A) I'm older than dirt, and B) I know more than Paul. So, since I've got seniority here, let's kick off this little fraternal tete-a-tete with an obvious one, Paully. Now that the Ducks are #1 in the country and have a bull's eye placed squarely on their chests, (1) who of our remaining opponents should we fear the most?

PaulSF: First of all, can we just take a moment to acknowledge that the Ducks are No. 1 in the country for the first time…ever? As if you haven't already. I've probably read over 200 headlines from various news sources, and I LITERALLY never get tired of reading them. So this is what it feels like at the top. I've always wondered.

As for your question, had you asked me that a week ago, I'd have said Oregon State in Corvallis. But then the Beavers proceeded to take a bumdump in Seattle on what was arguably Mike Riley's most questionable coaching decision (sans taking the job with the Chargers). So, this week, I'm taking USC. The Trojans lost in a close one with Stanford, and then absolutely spanked the Bears at home last Saturday. Needless to say, the Trojans may be on the rise, and something tells me they haven't forgotten last year's 47-20 Halloween black-out beat-down. How about you, Big Bro? (Let me guess: Arizona.)

GrumpyJDH: Arizona? Don't we play them, like, a month from now? If watching the Pac-10 has taught us anything, it's that the most fearsome opponent should ALWAYS be the one staring you straight in the face. I know, I know. The Bruins stink. They're playing musical chairs with their QBs. They just suspended players. I get all that. Perhaps another trip down memory lane would drive the point home? October 20, 2001. Our 5th-ranked Ducks hold a 42-28 4th quarter lead over Ty Willingham's Cardinal. (Ty Willingham!) Blocked punt number TWO (Game). Onside kick and a quick touch (Set). Horrid Joey interception and a game-sealing score (Match). All of this with backup QB, Chris Lewis, running the Stanford offense. For the record, I was also in attendance on THAT fateful day.

PaulSF: Wow, you went there. As if every Duck fan in America needs to be reminded of arguably the most heart wrenching loss in school history (in retrospect, at least); you know, the one when our National Title hopes came to a screeching halt? Good luck making friends around here, Joe.

GrumpyJDH: I'm old. I don't need any more friends. Let's just move on, shall we? (2) Who should we fear most in the current BCS top 10? In other words, who, of the three SEC teams, is most likely to win out and leapfrog us?

PaulSF: I wasn't at all surprised by Sunday's initial BCS rankings. I didn't think Boise State would hold up at No. 1, especially after drubbing yet another patsy (San Jose State), and I was pretty sure any number of teams could take the top spot. In a way, I'm sort of glad it wasn't us. Congratulations, Oklahoma. You've officially taken the target off our backs...for now.

But, because we love hypotheticals, let's say the Ducks do win out (knock on wood) and somehow end up in a similar situation to that of 2001. The team that scares me the most to leapfrog us in the polls is Auburn. The Tigers are firing on all cylinders right now behind the Heisman-esque play of QB Cam Newton, and with LSU and Alabama still on their schedule, plus the SEC title game, I think Auburn would most certainly jump us if they manage to win out. Of course, they'll need to get by the Tide first, and that might be a tall enough order to keep the Tigers out of the title picture. Unfortunately, it's probably enough to get the Tide in.

GrumpyJDH: Yeah, that second part. The Tide should be EVERY Duck fan's biggest concern from a BCS perspective. At Tennessee. At the Mad Hatters. Home against Mississippi St. Home against Georgia St. (WTF?). HOME against Auburn. OK, I'm now officially depressed. Next question: (3) who would you most want to play in a theoretical BCS title game (despite what the computers end up spitting out Dec. 5)?

PaulSF: Speak of the devil. My dream matchup is definitely Ducks-Bama. Not because I think we'd win, although I think we'd definitely have a shot, but because it's Alabama, one of the sport's most historic programs. My guess is, knowing how much of a homer you are, your dream matchup would be with a team you know we'd beat. Like Michigan State. Prove me wrong, Joe.

GrumpyJDH: Miracle of miracles, we agree! But don't get used to it, Paully. I want them, by the way, for EXACTLY the reason you just mentioned. We can beat them. I'm not saying we WILL beat them, but you definitely want to be matched up with the very best team you can reasonably handle. Especially if said team hails from the big, bad SEC. My opinion? We're the best and can handle anyone. They're second best. Next!

PaulSF: Wow, did we really just agree on something? I'm calling Mom. Actually, scratch that. She wouldn't believe me anyway.

Alright, back to the Left Coast. We've made it through half of our schedule, but we're only a third of the way through our conference slate. We've established who we fear the most, but what about a team we shouldn't fear? Or, maybe more aptly, (4) who's the most overrated team in the Pac-10?

GrumpyJDH: With Foles out (and maybe even before that), I'd have to go with Arizona. They've beaten Toledo (please), Citadel (uhhh), Wazzu (see Citadel), Cal (on a last second FG), and Iowa (OK, this one's legit…but it was in Tucson and late for the boys from Iowa City). They also laid an egg against the Beavs at home and made Ryan Katz look like the second coming of...(thinking of a decent Beaver QB here). Seriously, though, forget the once lofty ranking. This is a middle-of-the-pack squad that is now going to be minus its signal-caller for at least a couple weeks. Translation? Start making plans for El Paso.

PaulSF: Are we about to agree twice in a row? Nope! The Wildcats were the obvious choice, and the average Ducks fan would have said the same, making you the average Ducks fan (and me, consequently, a bigger—literally—fan). I actually think Arizona's a very good team and probably pretty fairly rated. Are they a top 10 team? No. Top 15? Maybe. Top 20? Probably. Top 25? Absolutely. Of course, the Foles injury will definitely hurt them, and if you're factoring that injury into your equation, then it's tough to disagree with you. But I'm going to. Just because.

So, who instead of Arizona? Surprise! USC. Yeah, I know I listed them as the team I'm most concerned with at this point in the season, and I'm not changing that answer. Those concerns have more to do with the game's circumstances—it's a revenge game on the road, the talent is there, and their coming off a bye—than I am with the Trojans in general. And why I think they're overrated actually has less to do with their talent level and more to do with the fact that they're USC and they get positive attention solely because they're in L.A. Sure, they played a close one with Stanford. And yes, they still have NFL talent at every position. But unfortunately, they don't have that kind of talent at head coach, and it shows. With wins over such formidable foes as Hawaii, Virginia, Minnesota, Wazzu, and Cal (who have a combined 12-21 record, and 5 of those wins were against FCS teams), they're ranked 90th in the country in total defense, 111th in pass defense, and 62nd in scoring defense. Not exactly stopping people. And by "people," I mean, "bad teams." The fact that they're 5 points away from cracking the AP top 25 again is absurd. Will it be a tough matchup for us down there? Circumstantially, yes. But we absolutely should run all over them. What worries me is whether or not we actually will.

Now that I've safely riled myself up, let's change the subject and talk about Oregon's offense. Probably not unlike every other Duck fan, you and I have exchanged countless text messages (and when I say countless, I literally mean it would be impossible to count them) about how potent this offense is (and a few about how impotent you probably are, Old Man). But just how potent are we talking? (5) Is the Ducks' offense the most devastating in NCAA history? My short answer: Not week in and week out, but it definitely has the potential to be. Your thoughts?

GrumpyJDH: Well, they certainly weren't very potent this past weekend, if that's what you mean. Look, from a purely statistical standpoint, they're slightly ahead of Oklahoma's 2008 scoring pace (54 v. 51 points/game) and slightly behind SC's 2005 juggernaut in terms of yards. In other words, they're in pretty select company. But forget the stats. What do you SEE when you watch them play? I see the college football equivalent of those frenetic Loyola Marymount hoops teams from the late 80s/early 90s. Relentless, unremitting pressure on the opposing defense. It's not IF we're going to score but how often…and how fast. Use any adjective you want (devastating, explosive, frenetic, migraine-inducing). They're all apt. Bottom line: if you're rooting for our opponents, you KNOW you're going to need 50+ to put us away. And good luck with that, by the way, 'cuz you didn't even ask about our defense. Maybe next time?

PaulSF: Next time indeed. For now, let's get yellowed out and manage the task at hand: The Neuheisel-led Bruins of UCLA. My prediction? Oregon 51, UCLA 28. Yours?

GrumpyJDH: Ducks 54, Bruins 21. The ride continues for at least another week.

PaulSF: I think that about does it. Tune in next week for more brotherly love, and maybe a few anger-induced F-bombs.

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