ESPNU’s Mike Bellotti on Oregon vs FSU: “Don’t Play Them In The 4th Quarter”

Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti

ESPNU hosted four, thirty minute segments on Sunday, each focused on a playoff team and the road required to get each of them to a College Football Playoff victory on New Year’s Day.The show, “Road to the College Football Playoffs,” was co-hosted by former Oregon Football Coach and Athletic Director Mike Bellotti. While the Oregon segment focused on how the Ducks made it to the first ever college football playoffs, there was also discussion between Bellotti and former NFL defensive back, and USC alum Jason Sehorn regarding the Ducks’ strategy to beat the Florida State Seminoles.

When asked how Oregon will game plan defeating Florida State, Bellotti simply stated, “Play them in the first three quarters.” While many analysts have broken down the game film, and every pundit, blog and media show has discussed at length the keys to both Oregon and Florida State winning the ballgame, it’s usually the simplest of answers that are the most accurate. FSU has proven to be a 4th quarter team – as shown by their current two-season win streak. And while last year’s Championship run was chock full of blowouts, this season has proven to be much more demanding for the Seminoles, with teams pushing the reigning champs to finish games.

Coach Mike Bellotti

John Giustina

Coach Mike Bellotti

Jason Sehorn aptly added that, “Going score for score with Oregon is very difficult to do.” If Oregon’s defense can stay healthy and hold FSU to the sort of slow start the Seminoles have experienced most of the 2014 season, that may open the floodgates for Marcus Mariota and the Ducks to build an insurmountable lead. That being the case, Bellotti’s warning that Oregon doesn’t want to go into the 4th quarter in a dogfight will have been heeded.

Florida State’s run game has not had the point of attack they had last year, with a younger and less experienced offensive line. Jameis Winston has proven he can lead the Seminoles from a large deficit – see the 21 points FSU had to overcome at Louisville, but Louisville also didn’t capitalize on Winston’s turnovers the way Oregon is known to do. The Cardinals certainly don’t have the offensive weapons the Ducks have. If Florida State gets down early and Oregon continues to keep their foot on the gas, the Ducks have the capacity to put the game out of reach by the time the final quarter begins. It’s one thing to overcome a 21 point deficit over the course of more than a half of football; it’s a completely different challenge trying to overcome 21 points against a team like Oregon with only 15 minutes left to play.

Contrary to popular belief, Oregon is not a pass-first team. In 2014, the Ducks ran the ball 56% of the time, and with the Seminoles secondary a glaring weakness, FSU is going to have a difficult time defending both the run and the pass. Bellotti pointed out that in order to stop Royce Freeman and the Oregon rushing game, “they will have to put eight in the box, which opens the door for Mariota, and he will pick you apart.”

Much of the focus on this Thursday’s Rose Bowl matchup has been on Winston’s ability to pull rabbits out of his helmet near the end of games. If FSU can’t go score for score with the Ducks early on; if Oregon beats the Seminoles in the first three quarters, the game may very well be over come the fourth.

Top Photo by John Giustina

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Paul Jones

Paul Jones

I (Managing Editor and Writer) am a lifelong Oregon Duck fan, currently living in Seattle, WA. While born and raised in the Pacific Northwest,; a Tour of Duty in the USMC and a successful corporate career has taken me all over the U.S. I graduated from Willamette University with a BA in Economics, minoring in Mathematics. I wrote for the Statesman Journal during the late ‘90’s/early 2000’s and have contributed to a number of online publications. I am married, the father of two awesome girls, and the Managing Editor for You can find me at: @Bigducklitlduck on most social media, or email me here.

  • duckoutofwater

    How many points would be enough? 22 at the start of the fourth quarter? I’m not sure that would do it. What’s the biggest deficit FSU has seen this season?

    Were I coaching Oregon with the chance to run up a score in the 2nd or 3rd quarter, I might go for all I could. But that situation doesn’t seem likely against any of the CFB playoff semifinalists.


      Never know because this Ducks team after that Arizona loss has been pretty resiliant themselves. Oregon has a whole 1st and 2nd string Athletic Defense that’s all playing on the same page. I don’t buy it that FSU is that much more Athletic than Oregon. I’d take our 3 D Lineman over their 4 anyday. Goldman really isn’t the 5 star player the recruiters gave him as in more like a 4 star. Same goes with their DE who has 3 sacks. I love all our match ups with them. Oregon will be making history in 2015 and were all going to be AMAZED! History in the making.

      • Anthony Joseph Gomes

        if i have to be impressed with a FSU defensive lineman i will pick mario edwards…he is a good athlete. goldman can only bench 335 and he is too fat. muscle and speed wins. blubber and hype lose. goldman is 320 and he needs to be 300. 4.8 forty? gotta be kiddin.

        • Azreal

          You sound like an idiot, you better ask the teams that has beaten us this season…OH, that’s right, there aren’t any!

          The Noles FINISH games, so if Oregon thinks that they can just rest on their tuckus in the 3rd or 4th? Go ahead, and watch how fast that feeble led diminishes, the bottom line is this, Oregon isn’t ready to get dirty with FSU, and trust this, FSU is gonna MAKE them get dirty! Those small bodies aren’t going to last against an equally athletic but STRONGER Nole player!

          And if you think the Ducks have speed? You obviously have forgotten about our dangerous kick returners K.W. and R.G.

          Get ready Duck fans, you’re in for a nasty wake up call, from a team with VERY nasty chip on their shoulders!

          • infromthevoid

            Lol. Keep talking if it makes you feel better. Its going to be a painful day for you.

          • infromthevoid

            Did we play ok enough in the second half for you?

          • Dickmann

            How did that work out for ya?!

          • autzenfan

            Noles stronger?? Who’s players were breathing hard and had their hands on their hips?? Not the Duck players.

  • dunkonyerhed

    Here’s the problem with that assessment. Oregon is also a second half team, or at least as much as they need to be (normally they can relax). But they wear teams down and pretty much do what they want in the second half as long as the game is remotely in question.

    To date, FSU has skated by teams by stepping it up big in the 4th quarter. Oregon is a far better team than they have faced all season. They won’t have that luxury. If the Ducks are ahead by 8 or 9 points going in to the 4th quarter, I really like their chances.

    • Chris Kellum

      …like the Ducks skated by WSU? or like the loss to Arizona? 8 0r 9 points isn’t enough for the Ducks to relax….trust me.

      • Duckmann

        Oregon put up some pretty big numbers this year but nobody lost to them as badly to the as FSU!


  • John Smith

    You will be playing the defending champions. That’s what the Ducks are up against. This Noles team can raise their level to play and beat anyone. The 80th ranked Duck defense WILL NOT be able to stop the Noles. FSU has already played 5 top 20 defenses in the nation. They even beat the number 1 defense in the nation with Winston on the bench. No defense has stopped them from getting the points they needed to win. So forget that. FSU’ knows that the trick to this game is to slow the Oregon offense down, make a few plays over the course of a long game and let Winston do his magic. They have done it, time and time again. Think what you want but I am telling you now if Oregon wins this one they will need to play flawlessly.

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      many of the players on FSUs team last year are gone. after graduation its a new season. cut the mystical BS and get real.

    • Duckmann

      Well, there it is!

      Go Ducks:)

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    i cant believe a former oregon coach made such an idiotic remark. the ducks own the 4th quarter. its just that very few teams are even still alive in the 4th quarter. i just lost some respect for belloti. he sounds more like a nole fan than a duck coach.

  • infromthevoid

    Seriously? What team ever plans to go into the fourth quartr in a dog fight?

  • So, revisiting the Bellotti remarks post game – he was right. Blow them out before the 4th quarter and you don’t have to play them in the 4th quarter. I’m sure Locke enjoyed getting almost a full quarter of snaps in the Rose Bowl.