There’s no denying the fact that the University of Oregon is now one of college football’s powerhouses. Boasting a streak of four straight appearances in BCS Bowl games while claiming three of the past four Pac-10/12 Titles, Oregon has completed their rise to the top and looks to be there to stay.
Yet when you look at how the Ducks got there, you can clearly see that the seeds of Oregon’s success were laid down quite some time ago. Really beginning when Mike Bellotti took over for Rich Brooks (who planted the seeds of success after a tumultuous start in Eugene) and changed the culture of football in Eugene, Oregon ascended the college football rankings in the 1990’s and became a budding powerhouse in the early 2000’s. With Nike and Phil Knight undoubtedly helping to establish the University of Oregon as a national brand as well, the Ducks took off.
Sharing the Pac-10 Title in 2000 and claiming it in 2001, Oregon was building for future success.
After a few years of watching the USC Trojans take claim of the Pac-10, the Ducks were once again ready to strike as Bellotti bid hid final adieu. Hiring a once unheralded offensive coordinator named Chip Kelly in 2007, Oregon burst onto scene with a spread offense that immediately became one of the most potent attacks in the nation. Continuing their path towards success in 2008, the Ducks began their streak of BCS Bowls in 2009 and have not looked back since. Clearly the last five years in Oregon football history have been some of its greatest.
Here’s how we would rank the past five Oregon football seasons.
5. 2008 Oregon Ducks (10-3); Holiday Bowl vs. Oklahoma State (Win 42-31)
The year that saw Jeremiah Masoli become one of the more vaulted quarterbacks in all of college football, this was really the year Oregon began to cement themselves as a college football powerhouse. Stumbling early on against Boise State despite Darron Thomas’ efforts to lead a late comeback after a few cheap hits knocked Masoli out of the game, the Ducks cruised through most of their schedule, only losing to USC and California the rest of the season.
With Jeremiah Johnson having a breakout season at running back and LeGarrette Blount flashing his power, Oregon’s offense was one of the best in the league. They crushed the Beavers in a thrilling Civil War contest and wound up coming back against the Cowboys for a huge victory in the Holiday Bowl.
4. 2009 Oregon Ducks (10-3); Rose Bowl vs. Ohio State (Loss 17-26); Pac-10 Champions
The year the Ducks claimed the Pac-10 Title for the first time since 2001, 2009 was a miraculous season in Eugene. After faltering early in Chip Kelly’s first game as a head coach at Boise State, Oregon slowly climbed the rankings, decimating the then-sixth ranked California Golden Bears by a score of 42-3 at home to really put them back in the national picture. Continuing their impressive streak of play, the Ducks would head into a HUGE, College Gameday matchup with the No. 4 USC Trojans and obliterate them inside Autzen Stadium, cruising to a 47-20 victory that saw the Pac-10 torch passed from the Trojans to the Ducks.
Oregon couldn’t sustain their momentum in hopes of a national title, however, as they were upset by Stanford the following week and would eventually come away with a Pac-10 Title after thrilling games against the Arizona Wildcats and Oregon State Beavers. Appearing in their first Rose Bowl game since 1994, the Ducks couldn’t keep a hold on Terrelle Pryor, as the Buckeyes came out as 26-17 victors.
3. 2011 Oregon Ducks (12-2); Rose Bowl vs. Wisconsin (Win 45-38); Pac-12 Champions
The first year of the new Pac-12 Conference, the Ducks ran away with the conference title, downing Stanford in a thrilling game that everybody essentially knew would determine the conference champion. That isn’t to say this was the greatest of Oregon football seasons, however, as Oregon stumbled against LSU in their first game of the season and wound up losing a heart-breaking game to USC at home down the stretch.
They would rebound nicely from both losses however, as they eventually cruised to their third-straight Pac-10/12 Title and their first Rose Bowl win since the early 1900’s.
2. 2010 Oregon Ducks (12-1) BCS National Championship vs. Auburn (Loss 19-22); Pac-10 Champions
The year Oregon made it to their first-ever BCS National Championship game, this was one of the most exciting years in Oregon football history. Cruising through their schedule and vanquishing any opponent who dared to challenge them, the Ducks decimated all their opponents except for the California Golden Bears, who nearly disrupted Oregon’s season in a tense and low-scoring 15-13 game that saw the Ducks come out victorious.
After securing their first appearance in a National Championship with a win over the Oregon State Beavers, Oregon wound up losing a heartbreaking game to Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers. Despite this loss, many consider this to be the greatest season in Ducks football history.
1. 2012 Oregon Ducks (12-1) Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl vs. Kansas State (Win 35-17)
As good as Oregon’s BCS National Championship season was, I believe their most recent season was even better. Though Marcus Mariota was commanding the offense for the first time and Kenjon Barner was taking hold of the running back position as a starter for the first season in his career, Oregon showed the nation they were just as potent as ever, demolishing each and every team that came their way.
New uniforms continuing to bolster Oregon’s national brand, Mariota and the Ducks put together their most complete squad in 2012, so much so that I really don’t believe any other Oregon team really comes close to the level of talent that was on this roster.
Though Oregon would be handed a devastating loss near the end of the season by Stanford in an overtime game that derailed their BCS National Championship hopes, they bounced back in the Fiesta Bowl and essentially tossed-aside the Kansas State Wildcats, a team many believed the Ducks would face in the BCS National Championship. While there is some debate as to whether or not the 2010 team was better than the 2012 version, there’s really no question in my mind about who was better.