Dr. Saturday takes a look at Oregon's 53-30 win against Stanford, and makes a great point about how good the Ducks' defense was against Andrew Luck and the Cardinal, even though it gave up 30 points.
It wasn't just Stanford's worst offensive effort of the season: It was arguably the worst in nearly three full seasons with Andrew Luck as starting quarterback. Thirty points points marked the Cardinal's lowest-scoring game in two years; their output in terms of total yards (372), rushing yards (133) and yards per play (4.9) marked new lows in any game Luck has started in his career. The best-protected quarterback in America was sacked three times, a career high, hit a dozen more and forced into three turnovers — yes, another career high.
In other words, Oregon did what SEC folks believe an "SEC defense" would do to Luck and the Cardinal.
Because folks almost always think offense when the Ducks come up -- and not unreasonably -- and then promptly talk about that offense getting contained by elite foes with extra time to prepare, it's notable that the Ducks' defense has distinguished itself on those same big stages when the offense has been deemed to have fallen short. Consider:
In last season's national title game, the Ducks held Auburn to 22 points, the Tigers lowest total since the second game of the season. Lower than the Tigers scored against Alabama and LSU, by the way.
While LSU's 40 points suggests offensive success in this year's opener, the Tigers only gained 273 yards against the Ducks.
Remember how bad the Ducks' offense looked in a 19-8 loss at Boise State to open the 2009 season? Well, guess how many times Boise State has scored just 19 points at home since then? That would be zero times. In fact, the Broncos' only point total lower than 19 since then came in the Fiesta Bowl that season -- a 17-10 win against TCU and its widely celebrated defense.
The Ducks' defense could be termed middling in the 26-17 Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State after the 2009 season, but let's keep in mind that was the best game mercurial Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor played in his career. And, you might recall, some of his big plays were, er, a bit fortunate.
The point is this. Oregon plays good defense and has for a while.
That said, Ducks fans must know that their program won't get its due credit until Chip Kelly and company win a BCS bowl game. That's just how things go.