Every year, you dream of the possibility of going undefeated. At the beginning of every year, I think about it. And every year, something happens. Because it is so freaking hard to win every game. Even if your team is better, winning every game is a seemingly impossible task. You have to be on every single game, and when you have an off game, you have to somehow pull out that win.
Before this season started, I thought Oregon had a shot to go undefeated. They were going to be favored in just about every game that they played. But that's not enough in college football. You have to be significantly better than your opposition. I didn't think this likely, but this team stepped up like I never imagined.
They beat the best teams in the Pac-10 by 3 scores, controlled almost every game they played in, and in their final game of the season, the Civil War, did what they have done all year long. They moved the ball on offense while forcing the Beavers offense into poor situations for much of the game.
Let's give the Beavs credit, they played tough the entire game. They never gave up, and didn't let the game get out of hand. But our Ducks were simply too much for Oregon State. When Oregon drove the ball, they did it with ease, while OSU had to fight for every single yard that they got.
Surprisingly, the point I knew that Oregon was going to win the game decisively was when OSU went up 7-0. Yes, they scored, but they had to claw their way down the field, moving 62 yards only 15 plays. It took a few seemingly miraculous 3rd down conversions, and it was pretty clear they couldn't keep that up for the whole game. Oregon forced the Beavers into a game where they would have to execute with absolute perfection to keep up. And in the end, they couldn't.
But what has pushed this team to another level is their attitude, and the coaching of Chip Kelly. Oregon has been better than their competition, but they have pushed other teams and never let up. This was again apparent today. The two plays that stick out in my mind were the fake kicks called by Mike Riley and Chip Kelly. When Mike Riley called his fake field goal, you could see it from a mile away. Oregon had 4 guys in protect, and were ready for it. Because Chip, smartly, was willing to allow the Beavs to try for 3 points uncontested than get a first down.
In contrast was Chip's (and special teams coach Tom Osborne's) call for a fake punt. This was not a call made to swing the game. It was a call that was made on study of film, to exploit a weakness found in the Beavers. Much like the onside kick against Stanford, it was going to be called no matter the circumstances. Chip Kelly does not make these calls out of desperation. He makes them out of preparation and confidence.
And this has been the story of Oregon's season. They have forced teams to their will. They exploit every weakness they can find, and push teams to their breaking point. The players and the coaches have done an amazing job, offense, defense, and special teams. I'm continually amazed by just how well all phases of the game work together for this team. They never let up. They go hard every play, and they are the best prepared team in the nation.
We really don't have enough superlatives to talk about this season. We as fans have been so lucky to get to watch this team for 12 games already. It's been a wondrous season. And we got to end it with a win in Corvallis, while OSU had to watch us celebrate winning the Pac-10 and going to the BCS Championship game.
While the Ducks have one more game left, I'm gonna enjoy this one for a while. You just don't get to watch a team like this very often. GO DUCKS!