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Oregon Ducks Rising in College Ranks

LaMichael James is one of the nation's best sophomores in 2010 LaMichael James is one of the nation's best sophomores in 2010

Eugene, Oregon hasn’t always been a hub of football greatness, but the University of Oregon Ducks have never stopped taking their program seriously. The ‘90s had their ups and downs for the PAC-10 squad, with the early part of the decade proving difficult. Fast forward to 2010, and the Ducks are one of college football’s most powerful teams thanks to key characters like head coach Chip Kelly and running back LaMichael James.

So far in 2010, the Ducks have put up 189 points in 180 minutes of football. They have their sights set on scoring records for the team, the conference and beyond. But the PAC-10 is a tough place to play these days, and although the Ducks have had an easy go of it through the first three weeks, they’re going to run into some Top 25 teams soon enough.

The PAC-10 boasts four teams other than Oregon currently ranked in the Top 25 on the AP Poll – USC, Stanford, Arizona, and Oregon State. Add to that, the fact that Arizona State recently gave #11 Wisconsin all they could handle and the Ducks are going to have some stiff competition in 2010.

Running back LaMichael James has been a dominant force along the ground for Oregon this season, and he will be the key to the Ducks offense for the rest of the season. James racked up 227 of the team’s astonishing 528 rushing yards in Week 3 versus Portland State, including a pair of touchdowns.

Quarterback Darron Thomas and the passing game weren’t too busy, accumulating just 140 yards, but that will change when the Ducks face some more serious opponents.

With so much of the focus on Oregon’s incredible offense, it’s easy to forget that the defense has held two of the team’s first three opponents completely off the scoreboard.

That said, the Ducks' defense hasn’t been monstrous. They had just one sack in Week 1’s 72-0 win over New Mexico. The pass rush is improving, but it’s going to need to step up against stronger schools.

The Oregon Ducks have completed the easiest portion of their football schedule in 2010 already. They’ve looked great and earned their #5 AP poll ranking, but upcoming games versus Arizona State followed by Stanford the next week will be a better indication of what the team is made of. It will be the same story at season’s end when the Ducks close out 2010 versus Arizona and rivals Oregon State. If LaMichael James can keep up his juggernaut’s pace and Darron Thomas remains solid, Chip Kelly’s club will be in good stead, but until the first hurdles are cleared, the Ducks shouldn’t believe their own hype just yet.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 10:29

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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