Do Ducks need to make changes?

Examining whether Oregon needs to adjust to beat elite, physical teams

Updated: November 19, 2013, 11:59 AM ET
By Rod Gilmore | ESPN Insider

Josh HuffAP Photo/Don RyanScoring points hasn't been a problem for Oregon against certain opponents.

As the Oregon Ducks had their BCS title hopes eliminated against the Stanford Cardinal on Nov. 7, in a game that wasn't as close as its 26-20 score, I couldn't help but think of the Red Wedding scene in the most recent season of the HBO series "Game of Thrones."

(Spoiler alert: If you aren't caught up on "Game of Thrones" and don't want to have the scene ruined for you, skip ahead to the fourth paragraph.)

The football game certainly wasn't as bloody as the scene that saw Robb Stark, the expected King of the North, get struck down alongside his mother and bannermen, but the Ducks' loss rivaled the Starks' defeat in terms of how decisive and shocking it was. And as it did for the Starks, it led to questions as to what was next for the Ducks. Heading into that game, Oregon had essentially been penciled into the BCS title game along with Alabama, and for the Ducks' high-powered offense to be physically dominated and stifled by Stanford's defense was a stunning sight to behold.

The Ducks' woeful performance conjured up memories of Oregon's failures against other physical teams the past few years: Auburn, LSU, Ohio State and Boise State (and Stanford last year). But the reaction to this latest failure was swift, and it felt different. Many experts said that Oregon's style of play would never lead to a national championship, that Oregon's offensive and defensive lines just aren't physical enough to play with the nation's elite teams.

Is it time for Oregon to scrap the system? Will Oregon be regarded as a national championship pretender for as long as it plays this style of offense? Or are we all just overreacting? Perhaps, like the Stark family in "Game of Thrones" (last spoiler, I swear), the Ducks aren't done just yet.

Let's take a look.

Rod Gilmore

College Football analyst
Rod Gilmore serves as an ESPN studio analyst on SportsCenter and College Football Live, and provides commentary on ESPN's Friday night game telecasts. He writes regularly for ESPN Insider.