Midseason review: Oregon

Posted by ESPN.com Ted Miller

New Oregon coach Chip Kelly preaches to his team that every game is a season. So it would be fair to say that Kelly's first season was a disaster.

The 19-8 loss at Boise State was a thorough embarrassment for the program. The Ducks arrived talking about revenge. They left as an object of national ridicule, both for the way they conducted themselves during the game and the way running back LeGarrette Blount acted afterwards.

Then the Ducks struggled to beat Purdue.

Then they beat a Utah team riding the nation's longest winning streak. The nation said, "Hmm."

Then they poleaxed No. 6 California and Washington State by a combined count of 94-9. Then they won at UCLA 24-10 without starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.

And folks started to realize something: Oregon stunk in the first game, yes. But the Ducks, now ranked 11th in the BCS standings, might still be one of the best team's in college football.

The defense ranks among the best in the country by most measures. The offense is scoring 33 points per game. Redshirt freshman LaMichael James has stepped in capably for the suspended Blount. And the Ducks showed they were good enough to win without three starting defensive backs as well as Masoli, who may or may be back this weekend at Washington.

Offensive MVP: Tight end Ed Dickson nips James here. The Ducks offense looked like it might be mostly one-dimensional this year -- Masoli and the passing game were out of sync in the first three games -- until Dickson caught 11 passes for 148 yards with three touchdowns in the blowout win over California. Dickson, a potential early-round NFL draft pick, leads the offense with 25 receptions for 333 yards and four TDs.

Defensive MVP: The were questions about who would be the Ducks primary pass rusher during the preseason, but end Kenny Rowe has answered those questions. He ranks third in the Pac-10 with 6.5 sacks and he's also forced three fumbles, which is tops in the conference. He has 21 tackles and two pass breakups.