Ducks Stun USC and Oregon Fans with Los Angeles Surprises

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 156 Comments

I wished for another “Utah Miracle” yesterday before the Pac-12 Championship Game and received one in Los Angeles! The surprises began from the very start of the game, as the Ducks put together their best defensive showing (considering the competition) of the year and truly pulled together an amazing team performance. Nearly everyone I spoke to before the game was in a “hope” mode, as we did not have much confidence in this team. Yet again, most of us got humbled (pleasantly this time) by actual game results. Let’s take a look at some of the surprises and begin the discussion of the Pac-12 Championship Game’s impact on the upcoming Fiesta Bowl!

(Can you believe it? Fiesta Bowl? A New Year’s Six Bowl? Pinch yourself!)

Moorhead was SMART, not Tough

The way that Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead put together this game plan on such a short week was a massive surprise to this football fan. And he had to do it without CJ Verdell? Perhaps that is why we saw less of the Pistol, since the “Power-Back” was unavailable? No matter, the innovation in his game-planning is something I will enjoy studying in the off-season. Packages for back-up quarterback Anthony Brown were unveiled and resulted in No. 13 throwing two touchdown passes. Nobody saw that coming, especially the USC defensive staff. Simply brilliant.

John McGillen, USC Athletics

Anthony Brown was the perfect surprise…

An empty backfield with a running back motioning into or zipping out for passes? These caught USC flat-footed a number of times, along with the sequential or constraint plays run off of base plays. My favorite was having Travis Dye appear to come out of the backfield for a wheel route, but cut inside instead of going outside as he would usually do. This surprised the Trojan defenders and created an easy touchdown pass for Brown.

Although the innovation did not end there. I actually saw a Zone-Read off the Jet Sweep, and quarterback Tyler Shough ran for eleven yards off it! I wanted more Shotgun plays, and we received tons of them, but I was speechless to see the ol’ Shotgun Inside Zone Read implemented the original way that yours-truly documented over nine years ago. But wait!  There’s more. The very play I was calling for recently, the revised Shotgun Inside Zone Read, made its appearance in the Coliseum.

FishDuck writer David Marsh and a few other readers have been calling for more tight end plays this last week, and the fans received some dandies at crucial moments. The screen fake-block by Hunter Kampmoyer was a sweet example of playing smart to win, and it worked wonderfully. These plays, the innovation and the variations off them kept the Trojans off-balance and allowed Oregon to escape with a win despite only 31 points and a paltry 243 yards of total offense. Oregon made the most of Red Zone opportunities that do not show up in the box score …

John McGillen, USC Athletics

Travis Dye had another complete game rushing and receiving.

The drive to begin the second half had to have gotten into the head of USC and increased their panic to catch up to Oregon. It was a clock-gobbler, taking up 7:40 — half of the third quarter! The Trojans became concerned that they may not have enough possessions if that trend continued, and I was doing a Duck-Dance in Famous FishDuck ManCave pondering that possibility.

Lessons Still Not Learned …

Oregon coaches have not yet learned the End-Game yet, which was evident when Oregon had the ball with 6:16 left in the game and up by seven. This was the time to pull out all stops when it came to play-calling, because at this time of the game, first downs are as important as touchdowns earlier in the game. Without both … you don’t win. The Ducks did their Pistol Plunges, only burned 1:33 off the clock and darn-near handed the game to USC.

Were it not for the heroics of Jamal Hill making that spectacular interception on the sidelines (one of the two he had on the day), we may not be celebrating. I’d rather put the pressure on the offense to get four first downs than place the defense in that precarious position at the end of the game. But we’ll arm-chair quarterback later, as I want to savor the delicious parts of this victory.

John McGillen, USC Athletics

The Duck Defenders were stout against the Trojans.

THIS is the Oregon Defense we Know …

This was the 2020 defense we assumed we would see this year, and the entertainment from that side of the ball was complete. We witnessed turnovers, sacks and run-stuffing in Los Angeles — everything we became accustomed to seeing last year. Holding the USC offense to only 24 points (below our season average of giving up 28 points per game) when the Trojans averaged 35 points per game prior to the championship was a testament to Defensive Coordinator Andy Avalos.

Since it is getting past midnight, I will save the conversations about the defensive performances for another article, or we can begin them in the comments. I do wish to say that I learned some great tidbits from former Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich who was doing the color commentary, although I gasped when he called out what defense Oregon was running on occasion before the play started.

It was a wonderfully surprising football miracle for all Ducks, and yet it begs more questions and discussion to come. Let’s enjoy all the positive elements of this victory as …

“Oh how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by John McGillen of USC Athletics

Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.


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I keep reading that Oregon was barely able to meet Pac 12 roster requirements for this game which makes me wonder about their health for a bowl game. Oregon is pretty tight lipped about who and what positions are affected.

David Marsh

The win last night is going to pay dividends in recruitment for the next few years. Winning the Pac-12 once is significant….

Winning it back-to-back is dominant from a recruiting standpoint.

By the rules the pac-12 set up (though they are still dumb) Oregon are Pac-12 champions this year.

Recruits will see that and if they are looking to join the program with the great upward trajectory … Oregon is that program.


Yeah; I won Mr. Irrelevant!

Trip to Disneyland? Oh, it’s closed. Sacramento Railroad Museum?

Jon Joseph

How about Larry’s Romper Room? Wear your galoshes. Lots of male bovine excrement on the floor.


The defense won this game and the offense almost squandered it. Great field position the first half and the offense left some points on the field. IMO there should be open competition at QB next year.

Randy E.

I agreeded a lot with Charles assessment. However, the second half became very predictable, vs the first half offensively. And indeed, instead of moving the ball to get first downs, up the middle with nine in the box isn’t going to work. How is that not obvious to Joe or his entire offensive staff or even Cristobal?

I should think game after game in film review the coaches have these discussions and it’s told to Joe things much change? After six games, evidently not?…

My last offensive thought is notice Shouch in decision-making situations. He doesn’t think clearly on the field. By that, I’ll provide an example or two: When it’s a wheel route for Dye out of the backfield, it’s pretty much a set play. It may not only be option 1, but the only option. Other short – out in the flat – designed passes, and creative passes (say to the TE for a 10ft throw) are all only-option passes. Tyler does well with his accuracy on those plays, and it’s how he actually gets his passing stats up.

But let Tyler scan the field and throw the ball? Bad things are happening. Really bad. It appears sometimes he just throws the ball to anyone. His team, the other team, no one, anyone. As if his brain just blanks or panics and he just throws the ball.

The coaching staff seems keenly aware, and is limiting those times he can make those types of decisions. But the QB position must improve or it will be a major limiting factor of this program moving forward.

As for the Defense, I give them “9 out of 10 stars.” Ha! Bravo guys, you won the game, in spite of Avalos best efforts to stress the D to death with 3-men rushes. I need to watch the game again, but I’m guessing USC was 8 of 10 or higher, in gaining 8+ yards when we rushed 3. How many times did Avalos let USC off the hook by not rushing 4 or even 5 guys? When the Ducks did send four or blitz packages, it was amazingly successful. USC’s QB does not panic. He just doesn’t. So knowing this, sending 3 is just giving him and his amazingly talented receivers time to find a spot and make it happen. Time and time again they did that.

So the kids playing D were amazing, but the coaching decisions on key 3rd downs, rushing three guys over and over, is mystifying. I hope Cristobal corrects this philosophy in a hurry.

Finally, THIS is the intensity, and urgency in the players we needed to see every game, every play. I was sensing some Helfrich area pre-madonna attitudes this year, only playing super hard and stepping up when needed. Not on Championship night, thank goodness!

Hopefully the coaches and player leaders keep this up and make it the new standard moving forward.




Anyone else rooting on the Beavers here tonight against ASU? Go Beavs!!


Well so much for that idea. Beavs are getting throttled by the Sun Devils.


Oregon has had a hard time keeping the bigs healthy. Between Dante and BolBol it has been a disaster.

Jon Joseph

I look like a farmer baby, I wanted that B1G back door cover. Brutus is in the final 4, and Mr. T will make the Hoosiers’ Fiesta a B1G time bummer.

It’s fascinating listening to the announcers call their games on the Pac-12 Network. They have to be impartial, understood. But in doing so, all game long we are forced to listen to, “If, (other team) can just stay close, they’ll have a chance. Down to a 12 point lead now.” This was a great example, the Ducks ended up winning by 24, but it was clearly their worst game of the season.

Fortunately, they are so good it goes down as an ugly win. Elise Woodward is an interesting case, she grew up in Eugene, but happily chose to play basketball @ Washington. Later, she started a career on radio in Seattle. She was never a rabid Husky Honk, nowhere near, Softy. But she got her digs in. She does a nice job on the Pac-12. But I know she hated the football game last night!!!


Don’t forget Herbert versus Mariota in an incredibly entertaining game on Thursday night football. The two Duck legends combined for over 600 yards of offense and 5 TD’s between the two of them.

Possibly the greatest week to be a Duck fan in a long long time……..potentially ever.


That was so great, Aikman gushed over both of them the entire game, the first touchdown pass by Marcus was as pretty as I’ve ever seen thrown by any quarterback.


As I ponder the game more I come to a new conclusion. It use to be that I was upset when players I wanted to have come to Oregon were on other teams. This was a selfish emotion because we could have been an even better team with this individual.

With Talanoa Hufanga I still wish he had ended up on the Oregon roster, but I am now sad for the kid. He and other kids on the sc team aren’t learning how to compete as a team or learn the discipline needed to be highly successful in life.

In the past I wouldn’t have this epiphany, just the raw emotion of what we could have been with this talent. Now I see the even greater strength in our program, and it is nice to see. Cristobal is leading the Oregon Football Program to even greater heights on many levels.

It was said by many, all it would take was one win, and we would all back off the cliff’s edge of thinking the program is coming to an end, but seeing last nights game brought me to an even higher place. Well done Oregon staff and the amazing student athletes which make up our program!


Agreed, well said.


Yes, the points you make here are what perplexed me so much about Hufanga’s decision. What was he thinking? Have you ever been to the part of LA where the USC campus is? I have, it’s gnarly man………really gnarly. Not a pretty place on the planet.

I couldn’t for the life of me understand how any Oregonian would choose to go live in the LA area, even with the weather the air pollution is so bad it basically blocks out the sun much of the time anyway.

So not only is the environment down there rough at best, but the culture of the administration, coaches and overall team seems toxic. Why would Hufanga choose to hang with those guys rather than some fellow Oregonians in Eugene, and be only 45 minutes away from his family? Weird decision to say the least but to each their own.

In the end I agree with you…….I feel bad for him. He made a bad decision.


The allure to SC is fading, but it was still bright enough to bring in Hufanga. As strange as it seems, bolstered by your observations, it seems like a DeAnthony Thomas to Oregon in reverse. DAT wanted out of everything you described, Hufanga wanted to get out of Oregon.

USC is having a tough time creating a new culture though. Oregon is really the brand of the Pac-12, snatching the top players that used to be in the USC pipeline. The intimidation USC used to have is gone.


This was the team i thought we had before the season but haven’t seen til last night. What a fun game to watch. Have major concerns about decision making of Shough. Have been trying to excuse them all yr but near the end of the game , who in their right mind just throws the ball up in triple coverage? SC should have intercepted and would have had the ball on about our 20 yard line.

If that was a one off…oh well, but he repeatedly seems to make bad decisions. I sense his job for next yr may not be safe. If it is, we won’t be as good as we could be. Will be interesting to see if 5 star incoming QB can pressure him.


He has struggled, but also had some great plays. He strikes me as one of those inexperienced quarterbacks of whom people say “He needs to get to the point where the game slows down for him at this level.”

He could very well get there – if we imagine what the season was supposed to be, he would have had weeks more practice with the new OC, and after 6 games would still have six more before starting in the conference championship.

I hope he gets there, and I think he has the potential to do so. If he can’t, then as you say, his job won’t be safe.


That was a good reminder for me….this year just has been such an aberration – maybe they all deserve a do over?


Man is my face red. All the times and channels information I shared regarding men’s and women’s basketball was incorrect. The men are crushing the University of Portland as I type (UP beat the the Tinkle Bells in Corn Valley). The Women play at 2, but you will need the PAC-12 app to see it. What a goofy way to run a network.


In SW Washington Comcast has an alternate Oregon Pac 12 channel. I was able to watch the Duck Women’s game on the 1330 channel when there was a men’s game on the main Pac 12 channel. Had no idea Jonathan Flowe was a possibility. Don’t think I had seen his name mentioned.


Hi Everybody,

I am curious did anybody notice a wide open Devon Williams when Tyler Shough threw his interception? When I watched the game again I saw what looked like Devon coming off a curl route and 3-4 defenders covering pitman. It sure does seem like a Tyler has been having trouble seeing the field and being patient.

I like to think its a process of him maturing and growing into a better QB. It looks like his confidence has been shaken and tries to force plays instead of letting them come to him.

I like the kid and what he is capable of doing. I want to see him be successful. I also loved the use of Anthony Brown. I did not realize he had come in and threw his first TD to Jaylon Redd until I saw the reply. That was cool.


I didn’t notice that on that play, but I think it is something that was pointed out after a few of the earlier games this season – he struggled finding open receivers if his primary target was covered. Like you say, part of the development process.

David Marsh

We saw Cale Millen play on special teams last night for the first time. As he is pretty far down on the qb depth chart I venture a guess he might start looking to move to another position if he wants to stay at Oregon and see the field.

He made a big play on kick coverage so the kid has speed. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

I don’t think Shough has a strong grasp as starting quarterback. Especially with Butterfield, Ashford, Millen (unless he changes positions) and with Thompson joining the program. Then Brown could stay another year as well.


MC said that the Ducks were down to near the minimum scholarship players to qualify to play the game! When the KO team needed bodies, he volunteered. Millen said he would do anything for the needs of the team.


My main comment is Oregon wins!

I did not make a prediction, but I was thinking 34-27 Ducks so (story of my life) I missed out on the FishDuck 100K prize! There is one, right?

Back to my point: Oregon wins this season and in the future, due to extending MC’s contract.

I know that I, and many others here, have complained about the pistol and end-of-game play calling, but I saw some serious offensive improvement with an unexpected week of practice. And, since I have not won a single PAC-12 championship, let alone two, I will hereby shut up about second-guessing the coaches.

The real thing I liked about the coaching was the strategy. On a really general level, SC had arguably a little more talent and unarguably more experience. SC has a deadly, fast-strike passing offense. Our quarterbacks, as much as we love them, would not win a shootout with Slovis and his receivers.

However, SC is weak with the run, and their defensive strength is in the secondary.

So what is a smart strategy? Slow-down, ball-control, limiting mistakes offense. Take as much time as possible off the clock; you will not win a hurry-up game against SC this year. Avoid putting your (recently) shaky QB in situations where he has to test the strong secondary of the defense.

On defense, sell out on putting pressure via pass rush and run. Don’t give Slovis time to pick apart your secondary; make him beat you with throws under pressure.

Overall, play with discipline. Understand that SC has a well-earned reputation for shooting themselves in the foot – let them do it and focus on taking advantage of their mistakes. Make fewer mistakes on your side.

If I knew nothing about the teams at all and just watched the game, I’d have thought SC had less discipline and fire; probably they were the less-experienced team. Oregon took advantage of SC mistakes and limited the damage of their own; they played like they’d been there before.

In fact Oregon was less experienced. Maybe slightly less talented this year.

This is a sign of GOOD COACHING! (And good recruiting.)

I am very hopeful thinking about the future of the program! Hurray!


I agree. I liked the pressure they put on Slovis. He is deadly with the receivers he has to throw to when he has time in the pocket. He struggles under pressure. I noticed it from last year too.

They have a lot of talent. I will say that. The ducks do as well. They were able to match up to those receivers,. They had one give me when demo tripped and fell. Outside of that they had a hard time getting open.

Credit to the coaches for game planning. I did get concerned with about 5 minutes left when the ducks went with the pistol and plunged into the middle and were not able to sustain a drive. The defense came up big.


Thanks Charles! I know that second guessing the coaches is our duty AND fun, so I can’t argue that; but I wanted to give the real coaches their due after this game.

If they lose the next game after running pistol dives into the line 50 times for 100 yards, the kid gloves will be off again.


Hi everybody. This is my first time commenting on any forum. I am looking to learn from you all.

I have to be honest. I had a good feeling about the defense in this game. I definitely saw something click in the game against. Cal. That gave me confidence that our ducks had a good shot as any to upset USC. Provided the offense doesn’t turn the ball over, limit penalties and move the chains.

As much as I want the ducks to be firing on all eight cylinders all the time and get up for all of their games. I have to remember that they had to deal with almost no spring camp, a short fall camp, and uncertainties about whether they can play any games at all.

My hat is off to them for facing adversity and pushing through it. These games were their spring and fall camps and practices.

I am fired up about next season. I do believe things will get back to normal.


I hope you’re right, and maybe even upgrade to 12 cylinders next year. They will need it when they ride in and beat Ohio State!

Jon Joseph

OZ keep coming here. Do not go the Kansas football blogs if they exist? You may be a bad wizard, but you are a very good man for checking in here.

Please, come back to green and yellow brick road.


Major bummer. He was just getting going. Man the mens teams struggle with keeping big men healthy. A bit snake bitten I suppose.

This will be a blow to our chances this year as Dante’s presence would of made a big difference. Perhaps Kepnang can get rolling quickly?

David Marsh

Some observations…

The run game wasn’t so bad on the whole as the pistol was used a whole lot less. Sean Dollars looks like a faster version of Verdell… Though could that also be because he ran out of the shotgun and was able to get into space instead of a pile of defensive linemen?

Where the run game looked less good was less about the run and more about a lack of a passing threat. Shough has really regressed over the past few games. He doesn’t trust himself to throw the ball… His passing attempts only became fewer after his interception.

Though without a meaningful passing attack either horizontally or vertically usc really just started going all out to attack the run.

Shough also seemed to stop looking to pass but just tuvkdd the ball and started instead of moving to extend the play and look to pass.

Brown looked a hell of a lot more comfortable out there with the pressure.


I liked what Sean Dollars did out there. He actually looks like a more versatile version of CJ, I saw him lined up in the slot a few times as well. I feel bad for CJ, he’s not a powerback but is constantly being asked to be one and having to dive into piles of defensive linemen repeatedly because Cristobal wants him to. I think that’s by far the largest contributor to him being injured so often, he’s realistically a 5’10” 185 fastback but bulked up to 209 (which I surmise is the absolute farthest his frame can handle, though not surprised if it’s still too much). CJ should also be operating primarily out of the shotgun and getting into open space, he’d have lights out numbers.

David Marsh

We should primarily use the shotgun regardless of the back. It is just consistently better.

As for Verdell… I think he likes contact. So much of how Dye and Dollars run is about making cuts and getting to space and contact happens and they try to power through it.

Verdell and CHL both seem to be missiles for contact and seek it out and when they win they drag defenders with them but often they just get piled up.

Verdell isn’t built like a power back but I think he wants to play like one.

Next year the runningback room is going to be pretty crowded and if Moorhead’s offense continues to develop with more outside runs I think Verdell might see less play time.

Oregon does need to recruit at runningback better on the whole and land some big time blue chip recruits at that position.


Byron Cardwell would be a good start!

Jon Joseph

Hats off to Urban Meyer and the rest of the FOX Big Noon show. Urban. et al came out vociferously in favor of an expanded playoff field noting that Bama, Clemson, tOSU and OK, have captured over 70% of the playoff spots to date.

To a man, all feel that this is not good for the game. I heartily agree.


Nice to hear that. I have a feeling it’s inevitable at some point, and hopefully sooner than later.

Or maybe they will realize basketball would be better under the same system and choose a committee who will pick the four best teams to play three games in the same cities which rotate every year… imagine how much better that would be for us fans!



There are so many memories of this game. One that will always stick out is how Oregon responded to USC’s successful onside kick. Down 28-17, the Trojans are about to turn the momentum train around. But the Oregon defense derails that emphatically with a KT sack forcing a punt! Dayum!

Jon Joseph

Strong! And how about the 3rd team QB making a big play on special teams!

I like the idea of Indiana. This team isn’t why IU is considered a basketball school, they’re good, played Ohio State very tough earlier in the season.

Jon Joseph

I REALLY like an Indiana team without starting QB Penix able to play.

Keeping the ‘Rose Bowl’ rota intact likely means the Hoosiers. Look out for Indy HC Tom Terrific Allen. But in the Ducks favor I doubt that Gene Hackman and his tape measurer will be on the sideline?

Come on Justin Fields
You’re costing me meals
COVID’s a witch
And not forgiving.

Ah, about that Buckeyes -20.5 bet? 22 Ohio State players including tOSU’s best WR, were not able to suit up for the B1G champ game.

But like stripping a drive down the middle only to find it a deep divot; so sorry, that’s the rub of the green. Or in this case, so long green?

Perhaps, if Ohio State comes back and wins a close game, we’ll have a Fiesta Bowl matchup with the Buckeyes?

NW wins, and Oregon will be playing NW. Quite the story. 3-9 in 2019 and coming back to win the B1G W in 2020. Just like pat Fitzgerald guaranteed.


Give me Oregon culture any day.


Reaction from the Orlando Sentinel:

The takeaway
Oregon: The well-rested Ducks seized their golden opportunity to make another big postseason splash. Cristobal’s team has a mental toughness that the Trojans haven’t matched in years, and that’s why Oregon will be bowling in the New Year despite all of its flaws this season.

USC: The Trojans finally fell off the high wire that was their season, but in predictable fashion with turnovers, poor blocking and too many missed tackles. USC wasn’t a perfect team despite its perfect record, and everything caught up to the Trojans in another setback for the perpetually embattled Helton.

Jon Joseph

Thanks 30. As to SC, I’d add out of control, undisciplined play.


That’s probably an understatement. Who tackles a KICKER? Apparently USC does….

David Marsh

The ball was so long gone that it couldn’t even be an accident. It was just go out and demolish the punter…

Jon Joseph

And demolish an undefeated season along with.

Santa Rosa Duck

The Santa Rosa Duck is very happy but still concerned.

Our D-Line destroyed the USC O-Line often with just three men rushing. What more can be said about KT?

Jamal Hill played lights out.

Travis Dye and Trey Benson works for me.

What do we do about the QB position? We seem to be going backwards at the QB1 position. 91 total yards. One interception and another that should have been intercepted. I think a change may be coming for the bowl game.


I nominate SRD as the FishDuck MVP for this season. Very accurate predictions this year, and holding faith at the end here when many of us lost it.

Only thing is, we didn’t see any Trey Benson this season, that was money man Sean Dollars going to the bank last night.

My guess is they stick with the committee model for the Fiesta bowl regarding QB position and then we see either Ty Thompson or Butterfield next year. But who knows Shough could get some training in the off season that turns around his mental issues.

Santa Rosa Duck

Sean Dollars of course, CJ, I was just testing you.

Unfortunately they say that the short term memory goes first.

Very kind of you to nominate me for the ultimate award at FishDuck!

Jon Joseph

I think it’s short term memory, but I forget?

Jon Sousa

Wait a minute…. I I had a pithy comment… just on the tip of my….

Jon Joseph



I think (like CJ) we will see more of the committee in the bowl game. Agree as well that a normal Spring + Fall practice, on top of this year’s experience, may show some marked improvement. Hope so!


The former Notre Dame QB, Urb, and the USC bro’s on FOX’s Pre-Game show spent a good 10 minutes this morning pushing the NEED to expand the Playoff to 8 teams. Their arguments were the same that we’ve shared here.

Later, they made their Final 4 predictions, and again, were chalk. Brady Quinn, the former Notre Dame QB, said that even if Notre Dame beat Clemson today, Clemson would still make the Playoffs, because, “the committee won’t count the earlier loss when Lawrence didn’t play. The committee can do whatever it wants”.

We will never hear that on ESPN. The playoffs, as constructed, is a long running reality show for them, and they have no desire in changing it. Expanding to 8 teams, letting conference titles serve as the ticket rather than their committee invite the teams, would severely damage their bottom line.

Jon Joseph

30, I should have scrolled down before noting Urban and crew’s playoff take above.. I wholly agree.

But I note that it was also a chance for FOX to bust ESPN’s chops.


Alabama still has to take care of Florida, well actually, no they don’t. The Final 4 is set. It’s all about the seating chart for “The Invitational”. I think it will be 1. Alabama 2. Clemson. 3. Ohio State 4. Notre Dame. The committee won’t want Clemson vs Notre Dame 3 times if they can help it. But they love Alabama vs Clemson for the Championship.


Nice write up Charles. I was up late last night as well, just savoring a nice moment in a year in which nice moments of any sort have been few and far between.

I look forward to the articles still to come on Fishduck.

The comments are all excellent today. I really have nothing to add.

WBB today at 2PM vs the Husky women on the PAC-12 channel I believe and the men play the University of Portland this evening also on the PAC-12.

Great 24 hour cycle of Oregon athletics. Go Ducks!


My pre-game reverse psychology prediction worked!!

All kidding aside, I am obviously very happy to see how the Ducks played this game. Most impressive is that they played 110% the entire game. I didn’t see a single player leaving anything out on the field. That is all you can ask for. They simply wanted to win more than USC did. Thibodeaux went into absolute beast mode looking as a man possessed……a heat seeking missile.

I feel bad about calling out Shough during the game last night, but a spade is a spade in my mind. His passes are precarious, his reads are suspect and his running has become mostly predictable and easily stopped. I like his heart and desire and I am rooting him on, but at the end of the day he is not the guy. I hope we see more Anthony Brown in the Fiesta bowl, and I hope we invest in Ty Thompson as the future next season, though I am also curious about Butterfield.

After a masterfully called game I was stunned to see the prevent offense start to rear it’s ugly head by the end of the 3rd quarter. What an odd phenomena that has become. Does Cristobal ratchet down towards the end of the game or was that Moorhead getting more conservative? Is it a loss of faith in Shough during crunch time (which there obviously was considering who finished up)? If we lost that game the lot of us would be up in arms over some of those calls towards the end, but thankfully we are rejoiced and can look past it for now.


Totally agree. Playing down to the competition is a terrible look. The coaches job is to get the team to play to their potential each and every game.


I’ve called out Shough multiple times throughout this season but I’m not willing to shelve him just yet. We still have to consider the circumstances:

  • New offensive line and new OC
  • Almost no Spring workouts
  • Very little pre-season practice
  • No OOC games to work out kinks

If this were a regular year he’d only be 5 or 6 weeks into the season but with a standard slate of pre-season workouts and 3 OOC games, he’d likely be much more polished. This year he’s just been thrown to the wolves with precious little preparation. Remember he did do fairly well the first couple games so I’m willing to give him a mulligan this year because it’s been so exceptionally crazy.

It’s still too early to know if Spring practices will be compromised or not, that would probably depend on whether COVID vaccinations would be widely available by then. But assuming that there’s a regular Spring and Fall practice schedule, I would imagine that he’d be in a better position to succeed. On that note, I’m interested to see how Jay Butterfield does as he’s been able to practice this “half” season in the current offense without the pressure of having to perform in games.


Totally agree – you are reading my mind.


Such an exciting game–whew!
I do feel that the “paltry” 243 yards of total offense was due in part to the defense giving the offense good field position, and the defense scoring–which of course keeps the offense off the field for another series.


Agreed, the data doesn’t lie on that fact, we had a lot of short fields to work with. However, 5 punts also tells a story of why the paltry yardage.


20 yard drives vs 80 yard drives.


Hey, SoCal high school recruits…which program looks like the place to play?


JTT committing would drive Huskie fans absolutely bonkers, so yes please!


Always fun to beat USC in the Coliseum. However, I am starting to get nervous every time Shough looks to throw the ball downfield. “Opening up the playbook” sounds like a good idea, but Shough has developed a tendency to throw into heavy traffic.

I am happy for the defense. They played well and deserved to win.


That’s so true. Tyler’s face betrays a lack of confidence. I think it’s too easy to kick this young man to the curb in a rush to judgment; He deserves to get a fair shot at QB next year. I don’t think we’ve yet seen what he can bring to the party.


I don’t think it is kicking him to the curb to predict that he will not be QB1 next September. I could be wrong, but a quarterback room that includes Butterfield, Thompson, Shough, and Kick Coverage Missile Millen (if he doesn’t go somewhere else where he can be Special Team Captain) is not one that Shough will lead. He seemed to regress as the season went on, and that is a danger zone.


Glad my prediction was wrong.


Jon Joseph

Brian Kelly – ND will not play in the Rose Bowl! Playing in the RB this year would only be about ‘the ashes of tradition.’

Ashes of tradition? Does that not perfectly define the ND program?

Please SC and Stanford, dump these entitled SOBs! Stop aiding and abetting Irish CA recruiting.


Call his bluff.


I cant see them walking away from that TV revenue plus it would hurt the ACC conference big time.

Coach Kelly needs a chill pill.


May be one of those moot questions at this point!


Back -to-back !! GO DUCKS


Thank you for staying up to get this article written.


What a game to watch! Kept you glued til the last second. KT truly came uncorked in this game! He was a disruptive force all 4 quarters!

The D gave up some plays, but by shutting down the run, were able to keep them one dimensional and tee off on #9. It was obvious that Slovis felt the heat, and it affected his performance.

The D line dominated the SC O line when they needed to, and the D back ball hawks pretty much shut the vaunted SC Wide receivers. DC AA had the boys in apple green hats swarming to the ball in ways they had only hinted at earlier in the year. These young and upcoming defensive superstars definitely stepped it up when needed.

I also thought it was a masterful game plan from OC JM! Putting AB in at QB really affected the USC defense. It was a good mix of plays, some sets that seemed new, and not an over abundance of pistol plunges.

We didn’t lose either of our fumbles and won the turnover battle, they committed more stupid and costly penalties than we did, and Katleman didn’t miss! Oh how we love to watch our beloved Ducks!

Does anyone else realize how blessed we have been to get to see 4 Duck Quarterbacks (and winners of the last 3 Oregon PAC 12 championships) account for 9 Touchdowns on National TV over a span of about 28 hours?

Jon Joseph

34 rush yards allowed!


What a game, and interesting to the end of the post game celebration. This Duck delightfully ate crow after his pregame Trojan’s win prediction.

The no-rush line I’ve called out turned on to savagely run through USC’s OL and around in their backfield. Players who have been on the sideline contributed to the victory. The Ducks used motion. mixed sets and surprised and confused USC numerous times.

Coach Avalos said his team turned the corner this week, and boy-howdy did they. Thibs, Scott, ISM, Sewell, Funa and Hill among others were outstanding.

Conversely,, Wright played soft and hurt the team with his poor positioning and technique despite his immense talent. Slovis tried to exploit Wright, and at times succeeded.

Inspired hard hitting play and showing a will to win will always gain my respect and appreciation. The Ducks turned it on last night setting the stage for 2021 which I’m already eagerly anticipating.

About the coaching, first of all the Ducks won the game and the coaches get the win. Looking deeper, Moorhead was brilliant at times, but disappointing with personnel and calls in the last quarter. Avalos planned and called a great game, but most of all fired up his guys to a performance level not yet seen in 2020. He deserves a game ball.

Game and clock management must improve. Finding the hot hand and and going to it could get better. Mario is a great CEO and leader, but doesn’t make the top ten for in game coaching (or do the problems eminate in the coaches box?)

Today is a great Saturday of football. It will be much more enjoyable with the Ducks win, and PAC12 Championship already done.

Go Ducks!

Jon Joseph

Post game celebration. I had the banana cream pie ordered from Clay’s Bakery in LA. What happened? I want my $ back!

Too bad fans weren’t there to boo Larry? I think they may have heard the booing from my den in South Carolina, in LA?


Yeah, Larry looked a little sheepish up there last night. I didn’t see a lot of respect shown to him when he was speaking. In fact he could barely get a word in edge wise. Maybe that was the metaphorical pie you hoped for?


I agree about Wright, he played beyond soft on a few plays. Looked almost like he was daydreaming out there or something. Just wasn’t locked in a couple times but he also made some hard hits and seemed to be giving it his all in the broader sense of the game.

Jon Joseph

Great recap that touches all the bases. Joe Moorhead free to create. A terrific D effort led by the tenacious and unblockable, Mr. T. And the unquenchable DESIRE to win.

I would like to add to all of Charles’ terrific points: Isn’t it nice to have to have a FG kicker who doesn’t make you want to wet the bed?

After going 1-3 in its last 4 road games vs unranked opponents, the Ducks went on the road, defeated a ranked team and are now off to a $$$$$$ Bowl that will be played in front of a big time national audience.

Mario got paid! And I believe that with last night’s W, he earned a significant bonus for rebounding from 2 bad, bad losses and taking the team to a NY6 bowl.


PS – Trojans fans cannot be happy with Clay Helton. Especially, with how badly the SC O sputtered right out of the gate. Yes, he won the S Division. But last night did nothing to cool Clay’s chair.

Mario made bank and then he made our day.


Looking at Mr. T’s face throughout the game (and the exhaustion afterwards) you could see the quintessential “unquenchable DESIRE to win” all night. Almost as though he was in a sort of Shamanic trance. Just so locked in that he practically manifested super human abilities……such as moving dudes much bigger than him off the block on nearly every play. I watched him push 300 pounders right into Slovis nearly every play.

It is a rare treat to see an athlete go into the zone that we saw Mr. T in last night……….a very rare treat. To me that is the essence of sport and competition.

Jon Joseph

Brothers and sisters, can I get an AMEN!


Amen brother!


After last night I still would like to see Clay Helton stay as USC head coach. His being there is good for the Ducks.


Haha you read my mind too. Pundits always talk in such sad tones about the demise of USC and what it means for the PAC 12, while I am chuckling and thinking “Keep up the good work! There is a new top Duck in the conference.”


I give Dye, and our players a lot of credit for not reacting when the sc players threw him down, giving us a first down. I was also pleasantly surprised as he handed the ball to the ref after his touchdown catch, even waited for the ref to be ready to receive the ball. He was in stark contrast to the Helton gang, who looked like the sc teams we have come to hate.

Another pleasant surprise was Dollars. The kid can run with power and is extremely quick on his cuts.

I have been calling for more TE play and this was a treat to watch. My favorite, DJ, played well and had some critical blocks, but he also showed what a weapon somebody 6′ 5′ 260 is with the ball. It seems Moorhead understands this too!

Kudos to Avalos, but this defense is Kayvon Thibodeaux’s. Just the threat of his force is enough to change the offense. Much like when Ngata was on the line, the opponent has to be aware of his play at all times.

I also want to give a shout out to Noah and his potential. I had to laugh when he ran by his target at 60 MPH in the backfield. When he learns to have more discipline in how he uses his immense talent we will be watching one of the greats. He is fun to watch right now, but he will be something else soon.

SC’s turnovers and lack of discipline helped us win this game. Shough showed us great heart, along with his teammates on offense, and the defense showed us how good it will become. Congrats young Ducks, well played!

Or is it a way from Cristobal to live his dream of having a tough, pound it offensive force? It might be ideal, because the TE is actually an offensive lineman that catches, correct? Maybe Cristobal is just a O-lineman who wanted to be a TE?

I also, correctly stated, Talanoa would be an important determinant in the game. I didn’t think he would blow it quite like he did, but he is a force. My last place finish in the poll can be chalked up to, again, seeing things through my green goggles.


Talanoa is a gifted athlete. That being said, he caused as much damage against his own team as he did for them. Tackling the punter was absolutely inexcusable, I have no idea what he was thinking.


Of the actions I was hoping for, the defensive line showed up in spades! The turnover margin was a huge difference, of course. But Shough….. is it his inability to see and work through progressions? Is he rattled after those 2 losses in a row? Thank goodness for that transfer QB from BC. He was a surprise addition to the game plan and played well in those small doses.

Pac 12 championship in a down year. Not too shabby.

Yes, Jon Joseph, this hoser had a few Molson’s in celebration!


Jon Joseph

Tasty, eh?

Always great when The Great White North checks in!

Now, about those Bruins? I’m referring to the Boston species and not the Chipper branch of the tree.


Bergeron and Marchand are always a treat JJ. We’ll see when the season starts…

Funny you should ask how Washington is feeling? I really hope this works, it’s a great read! Puppy tears!


Husky tears are indeed the saltiest lol May they continue to run in perpetuity!


Thanks for sharing this………reading that was almost as nice as it would of been destroying the huskies last weekend.


from the comments:

“Is god a duck?”

Why yes, I’m pretty sure God is Duck!!

Go Ducks!!


What I saw last night was that Oregon was the team playing with fire in its belly, USC was playing with fire, and they got burned. The Ducks took control of the game from the start. The Trojans? All game long they played like, “no sweat, we’ll win this”.

That wasn’t confidence, borne from perseverance and battling to the end. It was cockiness, thinking that, like ASU, Arizona & UCLA, Oregon would gift wrap the win and hand it to them. Well, guess what SC, that wasn’t ASU, Arizona or UCLA That was Oregon, the defending conference champion, 3-0 in championship games, and it wanted this one too. More than you did.

Jon Joseph

Thanks for bringing the heat, 30! THAT was the effort we have been waiting for all season. Especially, on the road.


Very well said 30Duck.


I am one of those fans that is “pleasantly surprised” and elated with the outcome. Definitely many surprises last night and only one time did I feel that MC had his foot in the play calling putting us in the “prevent offense” mode.

Mike West commented about MC looking at the Auburn job and I can not be surprised but after last night I’m sure we all are egger to have him stay here longer and of course rely on his OC and DC even more.

About that interception by Jamal Hill and whether or not he really had “possession”, it is still up in the air in my mind, but I’ll gladly take it.

Also I couldn’t believe how unsportsmanlike the UCS players were and how much of it the ref’s let them get away with it. That type of intimidation is not needed in college sports and was sad to see. Although the Ducks handled it well, IMO its something that should be addressed in the future.

As Charles mentions in his article the defense really came through even after long drives by USC and of course our coaches came through. This gives me much hope for our future as long as we can hang onto MC.

Overall a real great game that I’m sure USC will not forget for many years to come.

Jon Joseph

Surprised? Moi? That was an easy, peasy cover. Show me the $$$.

Spot on with the stupid, chippy penalties on SC’s part. This type of stuff is not conducive to Helton keeping his job. SC is an undisciplined group that got every bounce of the ball in the 1st 5 games of the season.

I wonder if Helton will be around to coach the team in the Alamo Bowl? I think SC and former Cincinnati AD, Bohn, after being turned down by Urban, will be throwing a lot of dough in Cincy HC Luke Fickell’s direction?


I understand Fickell is a good HC.

Jon Joseph

Among other things, he beat the Chipper’s back-to-back. I think the big question is, does Fickell want to leave the Midwest for LA?

Rumor mill has him turning down the Illinois gig before the Illini hired Bielema. He also turned down Michigan State last season.

Maybe he’s waiting for a pro gig? I don’t see the job at his alma mammy Ohio State coming open any time soon.


My guess is that once the Trojan decision makers recover from their collective dismay they will see that the game was there for the taking. Recruiting is back into national top 10 and they may even pass us up with late signings in February. Their coaching staff underwent major changes prior to this season and did manage to go 5-0 prior to yesterday.

Trot our all the same excuses/explanations for 2020 that we’ve thrown out on this board recently, and I think that cooler, more fiscally aware, heads will give the SC staff a wary ‘pass’ for this year.

Jon Joseph

DC Orlando? Last night I saw the same stuff that got the guy fired at Texas.

If Helton can hot seat recruit like this what would a guy like Urban do? I hope we don’t have to find out.


The interception stuck on his fingertips and he never bobbled it at all. The type of play that can only be determined with slow motion replay but it was clearly an interception. For most of the history of football they could not have determined that and I am pleased to be able to see it on a high def big screen.


Yes, I too was surprised with how unsportsmanlike USC players were and how often they got away with it, and also glad to see the Ducks handled it well. Makes the victory even sweeter.


How sweet it is.

Mike West

Glad to be humbled. Glad to hear about the innovation on offense and the defensive performance (I only saw the usual from this season—it was 28-17 when I started watching and USC gifted us a FG after a running into the kicker blunder, then watch the defense surrender a TD as an answer AND the prevent offense respond immediately).

I’m going to have to watch the replay when I have time. Now I’m curious to see what MC does for his encore NY6 appearance.

By the way, reported Cristobal was interested in the Auburn job. I guess that’s a future article eh? Will MC learn his lessons here and take them somewhere else? Is Mullens still scouring Coaching staffs (pro and college) to find a possible replacement sometime in the next six years?

I hope I’m not sounding like a spoiled sport- but if is correct— we need to start finding coaches that can recruit, develop players, develop coaches, manage games properly, and has the capability of winning a Natty, because teams are going to continue hunting Cristobal.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned: One can never rest on his laurels. We are the hunted, and we haven’t even begun to perform at Natty capable levels yet. Not to mention, the gap between getting there, staying there, and rising to dominant status are three distinct canyons. Oh how far one can fall trying to bridge those gaps!!!

Jon Joseph

I don’t see Mario heading to The Plains?

Yes, $2-$3M more a year than his recently bumped pay, but a pressure cooker. Former Saban assistants do take SEC gigs, but they coach on the east and not the west side for a reason.

Malzahn won two thirds of his games, played for a Natty and beat Nick Saban twice. Who in their right mind needs ‘this?’

As to a Natty for Oregon? Recruiting under Mario is terrific. But a few teams, Alabama, Clemson + Ohio State, again finished in front of the Ducks this go round. The OOC schedule the next 2 seasons is far from playoff conducive. Playing 9 conference games every year with 5 on the road every other year is not playoff conducive. Playing in the Pac-12 is not playoff conducive.

I say win the conference, advance to the Rose or other $ bowl and if the playoff comes, it comes.

After considerable pondering, I am of the belief that CFB is simply too playoff-centric. I’m going to savor Ducks victories and to hell with the Boys (and Gals) in Bristol who I no longer pay any attention to. Neither does Tom Rinaldi.

I do know that you will enjoy the part of the game that you missed.

Now, Come On Man, do you still think this SC team would have taken down Bama?

Love you Mike, and always very happy to see a Mike West article up, and always enjoy your comments.


Hear you Jon. The CFB Playoff is a media created sham. Until a complete overhaul of college football is undertaken we can look forward to the same half dozen teams pretending to deserve a place in the playoffs each season by virtue rigged schedules and media hype.

Until then, like you, I will cheer on the Ducks and relish a berth in the Rose Bowl ( still “the grand daddy of them all”).

Jon Sousa

I say win the conference, advance to the Rose or other $ bowl and if the playoff comes, it comes.”

Agree 100%.


So you take the word of those that cannot conceive that a coach would not throw themselves at them to be part of their greatness vs our coach that said he had not talked to them and did not know if his agent had?

Mike West

I believe Mario Cristobal is a man of his word. I also believe it would be foolish not to negotiate using leverage. Auburn provides that kind of leverage.


I think it’s even important to remember that he does not have to be a part of the conversation at all in order for that to give him more leverage. I am quite sure the AD and big donors are paying attention to jobs like that opening up, how much money is being thrown around, and trying their very best to keep the coach they want. Not to mention his agent lol.