Oregon, Pac-12 survive inaugural title game

As Chip Kelly prepared to head for the locker room after the first half, FOX Sports sideline commentator Tim Brewster asked Oregon coach Chip Kelly how he felt about his team's play and he talked about the need to limit mistakes and catch passes. Fans watching the game could only agree with Kelly on the opportunities the Duck missed to make a statement to the nation.

Forget, of course, that the Ducks had 35 points at the time. The inaugural Pac-12 Football Championship Game was that frustrating to watch with any kind of perspective as the Ducks won 49-31 and earned a spot in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2.

Oregon blew out UCLA in the first half, but the score could have been even more of a blowout if just a couple plays had gone differently.

The Ducks were never in danger of losing to a team that lost 50-0 last week and was playing under its coach for the final time after his firing Monday. Oregon had dreams of playing in the BCS Title game just two weeks ago. The Ducks caused a turnover in two plays, then scored in four, with LaMichael James running untouched through the Bruins' version of the Sahara Desert Defense that included no linebackers or even one safety.

So, how would a 70-0 win in a conference title game look?

Then Oregon relaxed. Its next two drives ended in turnovers, including one that got returned for a score and tied the game 7-all. Oregon played undisciplined in all facets of its game, including a flock of penalties, and still scored 49 points. That would've led some people to Tweet something like "we sucked, and still creamed them."

UCLA never had a chance to win, but it won by not getting absolutely blown out.

So, what score would've made the Pac-12 look better - 70-0, where Oregon played at the level it would've needed to beat USC? Or the actual 49-31, where Oregon played at a level where coaches would've busted blood vessels had they been playing an elite-level opponent, yet still won by three scores?

The Pac-12, which had four of its 12 coaches fired this year, didn't fare much better, especially with the game coverage on FOX Sports. Audio didn't work regularly. There were numerous points where camerawork seemed to be without any direction, including the halftime Tuition Toss. De'Anthony Thomas disappeared from the game for an unknown reason, but showed up on the sideline, which caused Brewster to point out that only time would tell if Thomas would play again. That's some solid sideline work.

Of course, Oregon vs. UCLA isn't exactly Wisconsin vs. Michigan State. FOX Sports won't be making those errors in the Big 10 title game.

To put an exclamation point on the uneven evening, Kelly verbally pumped up conference sponsors Dr. Pepper and UPS on the stage quickly erected in an end zone, shortly after honoring outgoing University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere.

What an evening. It sure didn't make the Pac-12 look like an even competitor to a conference like the Big 10, but that can all be wiped away on Jan. 2 in the Rose Bowl.

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