An all too familiar experience is happening with Oregon this week. About 728 days ago, or right near two years ago, the Ducks found themselves perfect on the season at 9-0 before making a visit to Berkeley, California, to take on a mediocre Bears team.
Sound familiar? Even eerier: in 2010, Oregon was scoring 54.7 points a game before California. The 2012 scoring average clocks in nearly the same with 54.3 points a game. Even the defense is on pace to give up similar numbers, albeit slightly higher, than two years ago.
The only thing different was there wasn’t a lack of respect in 2010. With Darron Thomas’ arm, Jeff Maehl’s receiving ability, and LaMichael James running all over the place, the offense was dynamic enough to overwhelm anyone. Now we’re using stopwatches to see this year’s Oregon successfully score in two minutes of real time.
It’s a bit of a mixed bag for either form of praise and criticism toward Chip Kelly and his squad this year. He must use it to keep the Ducks focused on the task at hand.
The near 15-13 disaster at Memorial Stadium happened not because Oregon was that bad on offense; they outgained California by 124 yards and the defense held the Golden Bears to just 193 yards. But they only converted 38 percent of their third down conversions.
If it wasn’t for a bold move of going for a two-point conversion after finally getting on the board with 6:34 left in the second quarter, this game could have seen a different outcome. With the 8-7 lead at half, the Ducks forced an early turnover in the second half and scored on their very first play to make it 15-7.
Oregon’s third drive of the half (still with 9:17 to go in the third quarter) started with a disastrous fumble by Darron Thomas that was recovered by Cal’s Derrick Hill in the endzone.
They went for the two-point conversion and missed to keep the score at 15-13. Who knew neither team would be able to score for the remainder of the game after that.
No one can bank on being that lucky unless your team is called the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. With the exception of Kenjon Barner and Josh Huff, no key players on offense were on this squad two years ago. This game will determine if the team can continue their mantra of killing the less talented opponents off early and if Kelly has evolved as a head coach from two years ago.
Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Autzen Zoo. See his banter with other FanSided writers and love for his favorite west coast professional teams by following him on Twitter.