Prolific Ducks have hands full

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A month between games must be killing these Oregon Ducks, an undefeated team whose idea of a clock-eating drive lands somewhere in the neighbourhood of 55 seconds.

How prolific are the underdogs for Monday’s BCS Championship game against the also unbeaten Auburn Tigers?

Let’s just say that there are NCAA basketball teams that would take the offensive output these guys put up on many Saturdays this almost college football season.

It has turned into a sport unto itself for these mighty Ducks, who capped their 12-0 season by earning a trip to the big game for the first time in school history.

The longer the game goes and the faster they put up points, the Ducks have seen opposing defences melt before their eyes.

So is there any danger of having a month and change between games for a no-huddle, mutltiple-look offence that relies so much on speed and timing.

“Not at all,” Ducks running back LaMichael James said as Monday finally starts to come into vision for both teams. “We had a layoff against New Mexico and we scored 72. So I think this layoff will be good for us.”

The matchup between the Ducks and the Tigers is a good one as well, good for a Bowl season that has for the most part lacked serious drama.

Even a matchup between No. 1 and No. 2 won’t make everyone happy until the day (if it ever comes) that there is a playoff system in college football.

But with acknowledgement to undefeated TCU, who have been pining for a share of a national title with whoever wins on Monday, it’s hard to argue that the controversial Bowl Championship Series didn’t deliver a magical matchup here in the desert.

Neither team has been to the BCS national championship game since it was established in 1998 and despite the fact that both have been playing football for more than a century, they have never met.

On one side, you have the high-octane Ducks, whose notable wins came against Stanford, USC and Arizona in the high-flying Pac-10.

On the other, there is the undefeated Tigers, who made it out of the excruciating SEC, where there is a battle every week it seems, against the likes of Alabama, Florida and LSU, who have combined to win the past four national championships.

It will take quite an effort for a PAC-10 team to go where the Big 12 and Big 10 hasn’t been able and pull off the upset, but when it comes to offence, these Ducks can fly.

How is this for some of the stats thrown around on Thursday as the teams get their final few days of serious practise in: Of the 71 Ducks drives that have resulted in touchdowns, 35 have reached the end zone in five plays or less.

As for the clock, more than a third of them have come in less than a minute.

“Both teams have had the same amount of time off so we won’t be using that as an excuse,” Ducks coach Chip Kelly said.

Instead, they will try to make the Tigers beg for mercy on defence a variation of what they have seen various opponents do this season, particularly in the second half of games when they have been gassed.

“It’s been bizarre,” Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said on Thursday. “(Opposing defences) have been very resilient in their approach to some of those, shall we say unconventional means of defence.

“If something like that comes up, our guys will play through it. Our guys believe 100% in what we are trying to do.”

How fast are they? Even the zebras have to be on high alert when the offence decides to put it into overdrive.

“We’re usually ready to go before the ref can even spot the ball,” Ducks centre Jordan Holmes told reporters here on Thursday. “If we could snap it any faster, Coach (Chip Kelly) probably wouldn’t mind if we did.”

Bo Jackson pumps up Tigers

From one Heisman winner to another, the Auburn Tigers got a motivational boost Thursday as they prepare for Monday’s BCS national championship game.

The big focus for Oregon will be in finding a way to stop Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, this year’s heavily hyped Heisman winner. But when notoriously shy running back Bo Jackson paid a visit to practice on Thursday, there was another Tiger Heisman in the house.

“Bo is a great Auburn man,” Tigers coach Gene Chizik told Alabama reporters, referring to the man widely acknowledged as one of the best backs ever to play college ball. “He loves Auburn University and he’s one of the reasons Auburn is what it is.

“As I tell my team all the time, so many great players before you have made Auburn great and they’ll be a bunch afterwards, too. We love having him around, and he loves being around.”

Jackson, the 1985 Heisman winner, will be an honourary captain for the Tigers on Monday night.


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