If only LaMichael had gotten a few more touches

If the final stats had shown LaMichael James with 20 carries, Monday's loss in the national championship game would be a lot easier to handle. But they don't.

Instead, the final stats show James with 13 carries for 49 yards, while Auburn freshman Michael Dyer ran 22 times for 143 yards. As a fan, that's the toughest thing to take away from Oregon's last-second loss Monday night in Glendale, Ariz., Oregon's running game just never got going. Even tougher, it never seemed to get going from the coaching box. Auburn's defense beat Oregon mentally as well as physically, and that was enough to turn an Oregon blowout into an Auburn win.

When you look back at a game, regardless of the result, it's comforting to see the best players on the team you pull for had the most chances to affect the outcome, but James didn't. Orgon's offensive line might have had a lot of trouble with the Auburn D line, but James still managed almost 4 yards per carry - more than he did when the Ducks played at Cal. In that game, he got the ball 29 times and ran for just 91 yards - 3.1 per carry. Oregon dredged out a 15-13 win.

James carried the ball 25 times or more in seven of Oregon's final eight games leading into Glendale.

There's a key discussion point for the offseason - how do you keep everyone happy in a backfield with a lot of great players, especially while featuring a potential Heisman Trophy winner?

And, it's the offseason. With the Oregon basketball team in rebuilding mode and baseball still with the feel of a sport the Ducks have borrowed from Oregon State, it's time to settle back into the memories of the past season and look ahead to the divisional alignment and the specifics of the Pac-12 Title Game, which will be televised by FOX on Dec. 3 at the home stadium of the school with the best conference record.

The Pac-12 Title Game is five weeks ahead of the 2012 BCS Title Game, Jan. 9, in New Orleans.

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