As the third quarter turned to the fourth and AC/DC blared in Reser Stadium, Oregon State’s sideline was rocking, its players thinking they just might pull off a monster upset.
On its side, top-ranked Oregon stayed cool – focused on winning the day.
When it was done, and a spot in the BCS national title game was secured, that’s when the Ducks finally let loose.
Heisman Trophy contender LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and the fast-paced Ducks negotiated the last speed bump on the way to Glendale, Ariz., grinding out a 37-20 victory over the Beavers in the Civil War on Saturday at Corvallis, Ore.
The matchup becomes official today, but there will be no surprises when the final Bowl Championship Series standings come out: Oregon will play Auburn on Jan. 10 for its first national championship.
“The best part about it is … we expected this,” Ducks defensive tackle Brandon Bair said. “It’s the way we prepared, the way we planned, we expected this.”
James ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns while Barner had 133 yards and scored twice for the Ducks, who used some stiff defense in the red zone – led by Bair and Casey Matthews – and three interceptions to fend off their feisty rivals.
Not until the fourth quarter did Oregon finally shake free.
Barner’s 23-yard touchdown run with 12:16 made it 30-13 and James popped through the middle for a 10-yard score with 4:27 left to seal it.
Jacquizz Rodgers had 87 yards rushing for the Beavers and scored a TD, but they were forced to settle for short field goals twice after good third-quarter drives – and that just won’t do against the most prolific offense in the country.
“We should have gotten into the end zone on those field goals. It hurt us bad,” said Markus Wheaton, who had 10 catches for 137 yards and a fourth-quarter TD.
The Ducks, the Pac-10’s new power with their high-speed spread offense, rising star coach Chip Kelly and the wildest uniforms Nike and Oregon alumnus Phil Knight can provide (silver helmets and pants on this day), are relative newcomers among college football’s elite.
Southern Cal 28, UCLA 14: Allen Bradford rushed for 212 yards and caught a 47-yard TD pass from Matt Barkley in the fourth quarter, and the Trojans wrapped up their first season under NCAA sanctions with a win over the Bruins in Pasadena, Calif.
Barkley passed for 198 yards and Malcolm Smith returned a fumble 68 yards for a TD for the Trojans, who beat their rivals for the 11th time in 12 meetings.