Oregon Ducks football isn’t an upstart team anymore

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Posted by Isaac Rosenthal on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 11:39 am.

People outside of the Ducks football universe like to say that Oregon is just a flavor-of-the-month program without any tradition. It’s true that Oregon doesn’t have any Heisman Trophy winners or national championships (yet), but the numbers simply don’t back up the notion that the Ducks are upstarts.

When the Ducks take the field against Kansas State, they’ll be playing in their fourth-straight BCS bowl game. It’s the longest active streak in the nation and it’s an accomplishment even many of the so-called traditional powerhouses haven’t done.

If fact, not a single team from the mighty Southeastern Conference has done it.

Miami did it, between 2000 and 2004, and managed to appear in a Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl in that span, USC appeared in seven straight starting in 2002 and Ohio State’s 2011 Sugar Bowl appearance was its sixth-straight BCS berth.

It’s more BCS bowl games than Oregon played in before Chip Kelly came to Oregon combined, and it all started with the Ducks’ Rose Bowl berth in Kelly’s first year as head coach. If not for the NCAA violations controversy that forced Jim Tressel to resign, the Buckeyes might still be on that streak that ended a year after Oregon and Ohio State met in the Rose Bowl.

Of course, everyone knows what happened next. The Ducks rattled off 12 wins in the regular season behind Heisman finalist LaMichael James, won their second Pac-12 title in a row and met with an Auburn team led by the Heisman winner himself in the national title game only to lose by a painful last-second field goal. But since that game, the programs have gone in opposite directions.

The Ducks, of course, would remain near the top of the college football world, win another conference championship and meet Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, finally earning that elusive first BCS bowl win for Kelly. Auburn, on the other hand, all but fell of the map with the departure of Cam Newton. The Tigers went just 4-4 in SEC play the next season and were 0-8 in league play this season, leading to the firing of head coach Gene Chizik.

Meanwhile, Duck fans are begging Kelly to stay after another exciting season in Eugene. A win in the Fiesta Bowl would give the Ducks their third-straight 12-win season, something that neither of the teams set to play for the national title will be able to say.