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"Look at how they're outscoring teams in the fourth quarter," Westhead said. "It's some crazy number [115--24]. That's a prime example of how the pace of the game can crack an opponent. At this point Chip's teaching me how to play fast."
In the Civil War, Oregon was less crisp than it has been. "We didn't have a great game," said Holmes. "We were sloppy. Lots of turnovers [two], lots of penalties [10 for 61 yards]. Gotta clean that up for the next one."
On this admittedly "off" day, Ducks tailbacks Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James rushed for 145 and 136 yards, respectively. The team's third-leading ground gainer, linebacker Michael Clay, racked up his 64 yards on one scintillating play—that fake punt midway through the third quarter.
Beavers cornerback James Dockery described himself as "not surprised" by the call. "That's just their personality," he said. "They're trying to kill you."
Clearly, the kid can take care of himself. Yet to ensure that he was not waylaid by any rogue scribes with unwelcome questions on such topics as boosters and payment schedules, Cam Newton was escorted from the locker room to the postgame press conference by six police officers. "We're going to stay away from those questions right now and stay football-related, please," Chizik told a reporter, "with all due respect."
The coach describes Newton as "probably the best football player I've ever seen"—with all due respect to Vince Young. Chizik was the defensive coordinator at Texas in 2005, when Young capped a great season with an extraterrestrial performance in the Longhorns' BCS title game upset of USC.
Oregon will have five weeks to jury-rig some way to contain the most dangerous man in college football. It's not Mission: Impossible. The Ducks' D is resilient, opportunistic and underrated. Oregon finished the season ranked a highly respectable 14th in scoring defense (18.4 points per game) and 24th in total defense (331.6 yards per game). The more telling stat: Its 35 takeaways were second in the nation.
"That's pretty good," noted Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, who was struck, halfway through a lite beer and in the midst of a Civil War rehash, by the enormity of the moment.
"Are you kidding me?" he said. "We're the University of Oregon, we're 12--0, we're back-to-back Pac-10 champs, and we are going to the natty!"
Aliotti is a 35-year coaching veteran and one of the most upbeat, gregarious guys in his profession. He was damned if he wasn't going to enjoy this moment. The best way for him to do that? "I'm not thinking about Cam Newton tonight."