Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ducking The Critics

Oregon was supposed to be a sitting Duck for the South Florida Bulls. Everything looked to favor USF, with the circumstances surrounding this Sun Bowl in El Paso. The Bulls hosted and defeated West Virginia earlier this season, shutting down the spread offense, placing the Mountaineers QB on the sidelines with injury, and then keying on Steve Slaton. Oregon began a slide, following the season ending knee injury to their signal caller, and they were written off as a one man show, then booted from the national rankings. During the miserable 3 game slide, Oregon failed to score a point against UCLA, as the offense looked exactly that, offensive.

It was a predetermined mismatch, with Oregon needing to do anything and everything to avoid embarrassment, but it didn't play out that way. The Ducks came out dominant and remained that way. They were the better team on both sides of the ball. A 5th string turned 1st string QB, led Oregon up and down the field, totally in control of the USF defense. And it was child's play for Oregon's big man in the running game, as Jonathan Stewart ran for a Sun Bowl record 253 yards, and Oregon hung a Sun Bowl record 56 points on the board.

It started slow, but quickly became ugly, before the bullfight ended with these Sun Bowl Matadors grabbing a 56-21 victory. It was a tremendous job by Mike Belloti and his staff to prepare a team that could have easily folded with the feeling of nothing left to play for. Dennis Dixon made his final appearance on the Oregon sideline, but Justin Roper gave the Oregon faithful something to build on and believe in. 2008 isn't looking so bad for the Ducks, especially if Stewart turns down the opportunity to fatten his pockets with Sunday money.

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