Midseason report: Oregon


Record: 6-0, 3-0

Oregon began the season looking like the second fiddle to USC. It now looks like the Pac-12's best hope for a national title.

The big question for the Ducks in the preseason was quarterback after Darron Thomas opted to leave early to try for a professional career. Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota won the QB competition with Bryan Bennett, and he has been outstanding thus far, ranking second in the Pac-12 and 21st in the nation in passing efficiency.

The Ducks dominated a cheesecake early schedule as expected, and then answered any national questions with a dominant show on both sides of the ball in 49-0 win over No. 22 Arizona. The Ducks then essentially doubled up Washington State and Washington, which allowed them to climb to No. 2 in the human polls and No. 3 in the official BCS standings released this past Sunday.

The second-half schedule is far more arduous, starting with a road date at Arizona State on Thursday. But the Ducks, strong on both sides of the ball, look like a team that could win college football's biggest prize.

Offensive MVP, RB Kenjon Barner: While you could make an argument for Mariota, Barner has been the steadying influence and feature back for this again high-powered offense. He ranks second in the conference and 12th in the nation with 121.17 yards rushing per game with nine touchdowns. He's averaging a stout 6.27 yards per carry. Further, his 114 carries are nearly as many as the Ducks' next three top rushers combined.

Defensive MVP, CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: This might seem like a surprising pick. You could go a lot of ways here, with LBs Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso being good choices, and it could be argued that Ekpre-Olomu's strong numbers are due in part to teams not throwing at fellow CB Terrance Mitchell. But it's hard to argue with this: Ekpre-Olomu has personally accounted for six turnovers. He's forced four fumbles and returned one of his two interceptions for a TD. He's tied for first in the conference with two pass defenses per game. He also has 25 tackles, which ranks fifth on the team.