In 2011, the Oregon Ducks got the chance to play two top-notch SEC football teams: one against Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers, the other against a ferocious Honey Badger-led LSU squad.
We all know how those two games turned out—not good for Oregon.
Would the outcomes of those games be the same if they were played in the middle of the regular season, though?
If you haven't noticed by now, the Oregon Ducks are fast! They stretch the field, tire out defenses and attack when the opposition is out of place. Coaches have literally instructed their players to fake injuries on the field to stop the suffocating pace that Oregon plays with (via Sports Grid).
Teams in the Pac-12 don't stand a chance trying to keep up with the Ducks in the second half of games, and I don't think the SEC would either.
SEC teams are known to be big and fast. They consistently have top high school recruits rolling in to wait for their chance to play in the "toughest conference in college football."
I'm sure it's nice to have those type of players on your team, but all Oregon coach Chip Kelly looks for in players is speed. If Kelly has players that are naturally fast, he can condition them into Secretariat-like thoroughbreds that race on a football field.
SEC coaches, such as proclaimed demigod Nick Saban and LSU coach Les Miles, would be scared straight with the realization that they have an Oregon team to prepare for somewhere in their schedule. (I like to imagine Saban's screams waking him up as he grabs his trophies to hug for comfort.)
A nightmare, that's exactly what preparing for the Ducks is like. Trying to condition for a tempo such as Oregon's within the confines of a weeks time is nearly impossible. The Ducks would knock off teams just as easily as they do in the Pac-12. Sorry, SEC, you can have all the muscle and speed in the world, but football is a game of four quarters, and if you're not conditioned for each one, you will lose.
Let's now take a look at the losses Oregon has had since Chip Kelly became part of the football program.
In 2009, Chip Kelly's first season, Oregon had only three losses to Boise State, Stanford and then Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. In 2010, Oregon lost only to Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. 2011, Oregon suffered losses to LSU and the USC Trojans.
What do these losses all have in common? Other than USC , they all had extra time to condition and prepare. Stanford only had an extra week, but most of these games were either the first game of the season or the last. With respect to USC who barely escaped Autzen with a win, these teams had weeks to prepare and condition for the Ducks' tempo. If they didn't, those wins against Oregon would likely be losses.
Furthermore, each one of these losses Oregon has suffered during the Chip Kelly era has come against superstar college or NFL players. Just to name a few: Cam Newton, Terrelle Pryor, Tyrann Mathieu, Kellen Moore, Doug Martin, Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Marqise Lee.
When your only losses are coming to teams that hold players of that caliber, you must be doing something right.
With the talent on the Oregon squad this year and the lack of superstar players in the SEC, Oregon would undoubtedly win the SEC conference championship in 2012.