Ducks flying high with USC next on the agenda
Fourth-ranked Southern California was just "them" according to Oregon's coach in the moments after the 10th-ranked Ducks impressive 43-19 win over Washington on Saturday.
Kelly won't bring up next Saturday night's showdown at Autzen Stadium until Monday morning. That's fine, everyone else looking ahead to the showdown of Top 10 teams will do it for him.
"We'll get on SC," Oregon cornerback Anthony Gildon said. "We'll take 24 hours and then we'll get on SC."
Now having won six straight after Saturday's complete dismantling of the improved Huskies, the Ducks (6-1, 4-0 Pac-10) continue to make their season-opening meltdown at Boise State a distant memory.
In less than two months, Oregon has made a season that could have become defined by an embarrassing loss and LeGarrette Blount's infamous punch, into one where the focus is on a stifling defense, opportunistic special teams and an always potent offense.
After Saturday's win, Kelly almost sounded like the loss in Boise might have become the best thing for his team.
"We were young and inexperienced, and learned how to play then," Kelly said. "So it is the same team, but they've learned when you've made a mistake ... you have to learn from those mistakes and correct them and move on."
Now they'll fall under the nation's microscope again this week with the Trojans coming to Eugene with control of the Pac-10 race at stake. But this time the attention will be on how Oregon has improved on the field and its return to the Top 10 of the regular season AP Top 25 for the first time since getting to No. 2 in November 2007.
"We don't care about rankings. We don't care about polls, nothing," Kelly said. "Everybody is going crazy about the first week of the BCS rankings. It means nothing. ... and the teams that talk about it, what happens is they lose a game. The only way you get a chance to talk about it is get to the end of the year and then did you do what you were supposed to do."
What Kelly did care about on Saturday was the re-emergence of an offense that slogged through its victory at UCLA two weeks ago when sparkplug quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was out with a knee injury.
After a scoreless first quarter against the Huskies, Oregon got the spark it needed with a second-quarter blocked punt for a touchdown. Then came 2 1/2 quarters of offensive domination with five touchdowns in six possessions.
In less than 27 minutes of game time, the Ducks rolled up 338 yards of offense in just 40 plays and outscored Washington 35-9 during the stretch.
Masoli, who said his speed was only at "70 to 75 percent," was the key. Washington's defense was lost trying to follow all of Masoli's ball fakes and when he did keep it himself, the gaps opened by his offensive line were massive.
"We thought going into the game he might be injured, but he was fine. He was fine," Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. "A good nifty little player."
That nifty little player now becomes the headache for USC in next Saturday's marquee matchup, even if Kelly won't talk about showdown until Monday arrives.
"I didn't even mention it in the locker room," Kelly said. "We'll start talking about them Monday morning at 6:45."