Mitchell: Oregon's New World Order

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 3, 2013


In the new world order of college football, controlling the time of possession is no longer as important as it once was...and we need look no further than the 2013 Fiesta Bowl for proof.


By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

GLENDALE, Arizona -- Throughout decades of college football, time of possession has been a go-to, bellwether statistic. The football analyst’s equivalent of a child’s night light: control the clock, wear out opposing defenses, and you win football games.

On a chilly Thursday night in the Arizona desert, in about the time it takes to qualify for riding a bull, Oregon jumped off to an 8-0 lead over Kansas State and never looked back.

The Wildcats would control virtually everything about the first half. Everything but the score. KSU had 3x advantage in time of possession, and all the associated stats that go with it: more first down, more yards, almost twice the number of plays...

...and KSU was still down 22-10 at halftime, on the way to a convincing 35-17 blowout loss in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl.

It was a repeat of the very same thing in this very same spot last year. Oklahoma State beat a solid Stanford defense in overtime, racking up a healthy 41 points in just 18:13 minutes.

The Ducks controlled the clock better in the second half, and thus the final TOP wasn’t as lopsided as it was in the first 30 minutes. But this game was virtually over when the Ducks went up 32-10 midway through the third quarter, and time of possession was an afterthought for Oregon.

He might play in the quintessential hi-tempo offense, but Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota looked calm beyond his years on Thurdday. The freshman capped off his first season under center by completing 12-of-24 passing for 166 yards, with two touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 136 passing efficiency rating. To that he added 62 rushing yards on eight carries, plus another touchdown.

Senior tailback Kenjon Barner, representing the other end of the career spectrum from Mariota, finished his time as a Duck with 143 yards on 31 carries, only seven of which came in the first half. Barner also had a touchdown on his only reception, a 24 yarder on the Ducks’ five play, 77 yard drive to close out the first half.

A drive that took just 0:46...and the KSU hearts.

Pick your poison...there was also the breathtaking sophomore De’Anthony Thomas, with the aforementioned 94 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Thomas ended as the Ducks leading receiver, scoring the game’s second touchdown on a 24 yard bubble screen to make the score 15-0, Oregon.

KSU QB Collin Klein ended with a respectable 17-for-32 passing for 152 yards and a touchdown (both of his interceptions were excusable - the first coming on a Hail Mary to end the first half, and the second in garbage time at the end of the game). Klein also had 30 yards on the ground, including the Wildcats’ only rushing touchdown, which made the score 15-7.

KSU senior linebacker Arthur Brown had a game-high nine tackles (seven solo). However, Brown was largely absent from the game while it mattered, not recording his second tackle until midway through the third quarter when the game was virtually out of reach.

If rumor holds true, this was likely head coach Chip Kelly’s final game on the Oregon sideline. He leaves behind a program facing potential sanctions from alleged NCAA rules infractions.

But he also leaves behind one of the more dynamic offenses in the history of college football.