2011 RECAP • UO bounces back twice from a loss
Observations from the Oregon Ducks' journey to their third consecutive league championship:
LSU 40, UO 27
Sept. 3, Arlington, Texas
The Ducks were overrated to start the season at No. 3. LSU had big and fast talent, depth and a safe senior (Jarrett Lee) playing quarterback. No surprise. (Uh, the Tigers went on to finish 13-0 and make the national championship game as the No. 1-ranked team; they're pretty good).
UO 69, Nevada 20
Sept. 10, Autzen Stadium
The first of two get-well games for the Ducks. Quarterback Darron Thomas tied the school record with six TD passes.
UO 56, Missouri State 7
Sept. 17, Autzen Stadium
After being bottled up against LSU and trying to get his mojo back against Nevada, LaMichael James erupted for 204 yards on 12 carries as UO took care of an overwhelmed Division I-AA team.
UO 56, Arizona 31
Sept. 24, Tucson, Ariz.
If Arizona QB Nick Foles and his receivers had made key plays, the game could have been competitive. Instead, James' school-record 288 yards led the way, although the Oregon defense looked suspect.
UO 43, Cal 15
Oct. 6, Autzen Stadium
All went well in the Pac-12 home opener against the team that gave Oregon its toughest game in 2010 - except for James suffering a gruesome right elbow injury after gaining 239 yards.
UO 41, Arizona State 27
Oct. 15, Autzen Stadium
Sans James, the Ducks overcame the game Sun Devils, although QB Darron Thomas tweaked his knee, which allowed backup Bryan Bennett a chance to shine.
UO 45, Colorado 2
Oct. 22, Boulder, Colo.
Sans James and Thomas, the Bennett-led Ducks scored 29 first-quarter points. The game provided the most head-shaking, amusing moment of the season when the infamous Cliff Harris (later booted from the program after various problems) got tackled in the end zone while returning a punt.
UO 43, Washington State 28
Oct. 29, Autzen Stadium
Led by QB Marshall Loebbestael, the Cougs outgained the home team, as questions remained about the UO defense. But freshman De'Anthony Thomas starred for the Ducks, and QB Thomas and James returned to action.
UO 34, Washington 17
Nov. 5, Seattle
In a game many deemed a potential upset, the Ducks held QB Keith Price and running Chris Polk in check. It was the last game at old Husky Stadium - and another jewel in UO's Northwest crown.
UO 53, Stanford 30
Nov. 12, Stanford, Calif.
Speed and tenacity were on display as the Ducks blew out Andrew Luck's Cardinal in the Pac-12's preeminent game. Oregon re-emerged in the national title picture.
USC 38, UO 35
Nov. 19, Autzen Stadium
Oops. Trojans QB Matt Barkley (26 of 34, 323 yards, four TDs) and receivers Marquis Lee and Robert Woods exploited the Ducks, who rallied from 38-14 down only to lose when Alejandro Maldonado missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt. Bye-bye return 'natty' trip.
UO 49, Oregon State 21
Nov. 26, Autzen Stadium
Ho-hum. The Ducks routed their overmatched rival to earn a berth in the inaugural Pac-12 title game.
UO 49, UCLA 31
Dec. 2, Autzen Stadium
Ho-hum, part two. Too bad USC wasn't eligible to play for the Pac-12 title, as the Ducks easily knocked out the Bruins and their coach Rick Neuheisel, who worked his final game knowing he already had been fired.