Oregon is defying conventional wisdom in the pass-happy Pac-10. The 13th-ranked Ducks are putting up their big numbers on the ground.
Oregon (3-0) is averaging 325.67 yards rushing, behind only Navy (378.67) and West Virginia (343.67) in the national rankings.
``It's never enough. You can never rush for too many yards,'' Oregon center Max Unger said. ``Coach (Mike) Bellotti preaches that every game. If you can rush the ball that many yards every week, you're going to go places.''
The Ducks seem to be leading a trend in the Pac-10, where rushing numbers are up almost across the board. Overall, Oregon has the top offense in the Pac-10, averaging 519.3 yards and 46.3 points.
Speedy quarterback Dennis Dixon has settled comfortably into new coordinator Chip Kelly's spread-option offense and is putting up big numbers.
Dixon has thrown for 565 yards and seven touchdowns, and is the only quarterback in the Pac-10 who hasn't been intercepted. He's also rushed for 339 yards and three scores.
In Oregon's 39-7 victory two weeks ago over Michigan, he had 368 yards in total offense. The most memorable part of his performance? After a real Statue of Liberty play, Dixon faked one, running 9 yards into the end zone to make it 25-7.
Then there's running back Jonathan Stewart, who had 165 yards rushing in Oregon's 51-21 victory over Fresno State last weekend. He set an Autzen Stadium record with an 88-yard touchdown run.
Stewart is averaging 114.3 yards rushing, second in the Pac-10, and is the league leader in all-purpose yards with an average of 171.
``The sky's the limit right now,'' Dixon said. ``This offense is really clicking.''
Oregon (3-0) opens conference play this Saturday at Stanford, which is coming off a 37-0 victory over San Jose State. Jim Harbaugh, the new Cardinal coach, is well aware of Oregon's offensive strengths.
``I think that's what everybody's trying to figure out - how to slow them down,'' Harbaugh said.
Last year the Ducks rushed for 182 yards a game to lead the Pac-10. It was the best rushing average for a conference team since UCLA in 1976.
But this season, the Ducks, top-ranked USC, No. 6 California and Arizona State are all averaging 200 yards a game on the ground.
``This has been a league where people have thrown the ball, and known as a conference that throws and throws successfully - which people are doing. They're mixing it up,'' said Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson, in his third stint in the Pac-10.
``I think it's probably more balanced now with the run. Things have changed. I think everyone looks at the personnel that they have and the strengths that they have offensively and tries to take advantage of it.''
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