Is Oregon Winning Convincingly Yet?
Except that it seems they haven't fully convinced some people that there isn't another team more worthy to wear the glass slipper come Jan. 10. But they don't have control over the hard-headed, only the overmatched.
No matter how many points the Ducks score, no matter how impressive they look, no matter how well they defend down to the very last whistle, there still seems to be a "Yeah, but..." hanging out there.
The BCS computer isn't convinced. Lots of football fans east of the Rockies aren't convinced.
Maybe it's because the Ducks make it look easy. Too easy.
It didn't look that hard Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum where Oregon defeated USC 53-32. The Ducks watched USC strike for two touchdowns in the early minutes of the second half, they got down 32-29 and then responded by scoring 24 unanswered points to take the Trojans out of what had been an exciting, competitive game. The homecoming crowd was heading for the exits early in the fourth quarter.
They went into a big venue, against a big-name program on a big stage and they won big.
What else does a team have to do?
The Ducks score fast: Against the Trojans in the first half, Oregon put up four touchdowns on a total of 14 offensive plays. Three of those scores came in just five plays.
The Ducks controlled the ball for 8:49 in the first half and ran 34 plays. USC, by comparison, held the ball for 21:11 and ran 45.
They score slow: USC tried to beat Oregon at its own game out of the gate as the second half began, taking advantage of Oregon mistakes to put two touchdowns on the board in less than four minutes. The Trojans assumed a 32-29 lead on the second score with 11:19 to go in the third quarter.
And then the Ducks began the slow-play. First it was a 12-yard scoring drive that included seven handoffs to LaMichael James.
On its possession, Oregon went 11 plays for the score with eight more rushing plays. The Ducks held the ball for 10:36 in the third quarter.
"You have to give (USC) a lot of credit. They didn't let us have our big explosive plays," said wide receiver Jeff Maehl. "We had to chip away."
They have weathered adversity. After Oregon took a 29-17 lead into the locker room at halftime, USC came out and grabbed the momentum and took a lead. In fact, USC led three times in the game before Oregon went ahead for good.
It was not a perfect night for the Ducks. They committed eight penalties for 85 yards and some of them were pretty costly. They committed three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) and fumbled the ball on two other occasions but retained possession.
They run: James finished with 239 yards on 36 carries with three touchdowns.
They pass: Maehl ended up with eight catches for 145 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
They close the door. In eight games this season, Oregon has given up seven points -- seven points -- in the fourth quarter.
USC tried to get in the end zone late in the game, driving to earn a first down at Oregon 14. But the Ducks put up a defensive stand, the Trojans came up empty-handed and the run remained intact.
They are unflappable. Kelly has sold a "win the day" concept to his players and they bought it, allowing the Ducks to run to an 8-0 record for the first time since 1933.
There are four more games on the Ducks' schedule, against Washington, Cal, Arizona and Oregon State. The latter two, on the surace, look like the more serious challenges. But the Huskies come first. And that's not really the best news for them.
"We are by no means over the hump," Maehl said.
"I think it comes down to the fact that our players just don't panic in the second half," Kelly said. "You've got to go and do it every week in college football. Every win is so important. It's 'what have you done for me lately?"
But the question about the Ducks is what haven't they done?