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Making (non)sense of college football
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Forsyth County News

 

Halfway through the college football season, everything makes perfect sense.

A fortnight ago, no team looked more formidable than Alabama. Coming off a 31-6 dismantling of Florida, the undefeated
Tide had surrendered a mere 45 points in its first five games.

They promptly surrendered 35 in a single desultory afternoon in Columbia, losing by two touchdowns to South Carolina.

But the Ol' Ball Coach promptly brought his Gamecocks back down to earth, managing a scoreless second half in a 31-28 loss at Kentucky.

Yes, Kentucky, coming off a three-game losing streak which featured a loss to Mississippi, which counts losses to Vanderbilt and, ahem, Jacksonville State among its lowlights.

We've seen Florida lose three straight and drop out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2004. We've seen Texas lose two straight and drop out of the rankings for the first time since the Clinton Administration.

Texas lost at home, 34-12, to UCLA, which lost at Kansas State, 31-22, which got drilled by Nebraska, 48-13.

So, naturally, Texas beat Nebraska, 20-13, on Saturday.

The locals have done their share to stir the pot of insanity.  Georgia lost four straight en route to its worst start since Wallace Butts was ambling along the sideline.  Tech, the defending ACC champion, lost to Kansas, which has compiled this impressive list of losses:  59-7 to Kansas State, 55-7 to Baylor, 31-16 to Southern Miss, and-get this-6-3 to North Dakota State.

Saturday night we witnessed Ohio State getting pushed all over Camp Randall Stadium by Wisconsin, the second convincing loss by a team ranked number one in as many weeks.

And so, as if things aren't crazy enough, we now have our third number one team in as many weeks. As befits this season of extreme goofiness, the new top team is Oregon.

But not according to the BCS rankings, of course. The top team there is Oklahoma. The computers love the fact that the Sooners blasted Utah State (31-24), Air Force (27-24), and Cincinnati (31-29).  But that's another discussion for another day.

Sunday marked the first time since the AP poll appeared in 1936 that Oregon found itself ranked number one.  They are the 43rd team to achieve that lofty honor, and the first new team to assume that position since Virginia 20 years ago.

Everyone knows Oregon as the team that wears myriad combinations of outrageous uniform parts. We can hardly wait to see how they're attired on Thursday night for their nationally televised tilt with UCLA on ESPN.

But when watching the Ducks, look beyond the unis-and don't leave the room while their offense is on the field.  Things happen at warp speed.

When quarterback Darron Thomas leads the Ducks onto the field, he says, “Be back in a minute, coach!”  That's because 13 of Oregon's scoring drives this season have taken less than a minute.  Two-thirds of the Ducks touchdown drives (24 of 36) have taken less than two minutes. 

They lead the nation in scoring (54.3 points per game) and rank sixth in total offense (567 yards per game).  Fielding “Hurry Up” Yost would have loved this team.

The offense operates with such efficiency that the Ducks have to rotate 25 players-on defense.  They're never off the field long enough to catch their breath.

The super-fast no-huddle spread offense is the brainchild of head coach Chip Kelly, who came to Oregon in 2007 as offensive coordinator.  After his first practice that spring, the other coaches marveled that it was the fastest practice they had ever witnessed.

“I said, 'That was the slowest practice I've been involved with in the past 10 years!'” Kelly told Pete Thamel of the New York Times.

Now used to Kelly's system, it's not unusual for the Ducks to reel off 30 plays in a 10 minute scrimmage.  While the average college practice lasts three hours, the Ducks are on the field for two. Things happen so fast that the coaching is done in the film room after practice.

The best part for the players?  The rapid pace eliminates the need for that traditional practice wrap-up, wind sprints.  “Practice is a wind sprint,” reserve quarterback Nate Costa told Thamel.

By the time Oregon gets into the second half, opponents are gassed.  On the season, the second half scoreboard reads Oregon 128, Opponents 13.  That includes slapping Tennessee, 35-0, and Stanford, 28-0.

It isn't uncommon to see opposing defenders staying on the ground after plays, feigning injuries while they gasp for air. That's about the only way to slow down the Quack Attack.

But then again, in this crazy season, anything is possible. After all, UCLA lost to Stanford, which lost to Oregon. . . . .