The Oregon Ducks flocked to Berkeley, Calif. as a four-touchdown favorite over the Golden Bears and promptly lulled everyone to sleep with their white jerseys, black pants and green helmets. How dull.
After a somewhat lackluster performance in the first half, the Ducks came to life in the second half like a science teacher at a Star Trek convention—a mind-blowing, jaw-dropping surge of energy that is turned on and off at will. Cal was a catharsis, of sorts, because the Oregon Ducks tend to get bored with inferior competition. The hammer is coming, it's just unknown when it will drop.
The Ducks play with their opponents like a kitten who discovers a baby bird that's fallen from its nest.
They play with it. Nudge it a bit to see if it's still alive. Then as soon as it starts to show fight for life, they devour it. 59-17.
It's almost unfair.
Cal had nothing to hang its head over—the Bears played good football for three quarters, actually pulling to within seven points late in the third quarter when Isi Sofele scored on a four-yard run to make the score 24-17, Oregon. Then, it was over. In a blink of an eye.
It was if somewhere whispered into their feathered ears, "Pssst...the No. 1 team in the country just lost." That happened. And Oregon just made its case as to why it should be ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings.
No disrespect to Kansas State, who beat TCU 23-10, but Oregon was the answer to every SEC fan, every SEC voter, every Pac-12 hater and every doubter who screamed at the top of their lungs, "But Oregon can't beat an Alabama defense."
Texas A&M, with its prolific offense led by dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel, did just that beating Alabama 29-24 in Tuscaloosa. The silence was deafening.
The SEC's strong defensive argument that had spurred life into every SEC-centric fan...just flat-lined. Even longtime Alabama fan, supporter and JOX Radio host Paul Finebaum was shocked.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Finebaum show has been canceled indefinitely.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) November 11, 2012
Oregon no longer has to sit around and prove why it deserves to be in the BCS Championship game. Texas A&M did Oregon a huge favor by beating Alabama with a similar style of offense. And, dammit, a similar defense.
The Aggies' defense yields an average 377.1 yards per game while Oregon yields an average of 380.8 yards. But Alabama, which has the No. 1 total defense in the country, could not contain the Aggies' fifth-ranked offense and surrendered 481 total yards. By the way, Oregon's offense is ranked higher than Texas A&M's offense.
Oregon is Texas A&M on steroids. Quarterback Marcus Mariota throw for 377 yards and six touchdowns against Cal.
If No. 15 Texas A&M can dominate No. 1 Alabama—and yes, the Aggies did dominate—what would Oregon have done to Alabama? If a team somewhat similar to Oregon can beat Alabama, then shouldn't that wipe out any more questions as to whether or not Oregon has what it takes to beat "an Alabama"?
Point made, Aggies. Well done. Oregon owes you some homemade granola this holiday season. You silenced the critics. You made Oregon's case by default.
The Ducks will be flying back home to their fowl habitat tonight wondering if anybody bothered to watch what they did in the Bay Area. Rest assured, a lot of Alabama fans tuned in to their televisions in hopes that Oregon would drop a game and keep Alabama in the BCS convo.
The Ducks cruelly toyed with those fans' emotions. And like every opponent they've faced this year, the Ducks toyed with their food.
When the Ducks wake up tomorrow, they'll be the No. 1 team in the land.
And very hungry.