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Oregon pounds best of Big 12

Rout of Buffs gives Ducks a shot at share of the title

SHARE Oregon pounds best of Big 12

TEMPE, Ariz. — Joey Harrington gave the Oregon football program its greatest season and maybe a share of the national championship.

The No. 2 Ducks' 38-16 rout of No. 3 Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl on Tuesday gave Oregon its first 11-win season.

Now every Duck is a Nebraska rooter. If the Cornhuskers beat Miami in the Rose Bowl on Thursday, Oregon could share the national title.

"I'm a Nebraska fan," Oregon cornerback Rashad Bauman said. "I have a Nebraska hat for January third, and won't nobody take it from me."

Harrington, 25-3 as a Ducks starter, threw for four touchdowns and 350 yards, and Oregon shut down Colorado's running game in a contest that was far more one-sided than anyone expected.

"I expected us to win, but the way we did it, I'm kind of surprised," he said. "Colorado was a very tough team. They were the hottest team in the country, and we played one of our best games against them."

Samie Parker caught nine passes for 162 yards, including a perfect 79-yarder for a touchdown that put Oregon ahead for good in the second quarter, when the Ducks outgained the Buffaloes 198 yards to 53.

Oregon's Steve Smith set a Fiesta Bowl record with three interceptions, and the Ducks' defense — ranked 81st in NCAA Division I — forced the Buffs to throw. Oregon did it by crowding the line of scrimmage and letting the cornerbacks take receivers one-on-one.

"We had more people than you can block," linebacker David Moretti said. "We felt if we could stop the run, they would not be able to pass and beat us because they haven't been able to do that all year."

Maurice Morris ran 49 yards for another Oregon score, landing on top of a Colorado defender at the Buffaloes 21. He got back on his feet and ran into the end zone to make it 28-7 early in the third quarter.

The Pac-10 champions had a 500-328 advantage in total yards, 150-49 on the ground.

The Ducks will now cheer on the Huskers, hoping they upset the top-ranked and undefeated Hurricanes in the Bowl Championship Series title game Thursday.

"I'll be glued to the TV come the third," Harrington said, "but until then, I'm going to be living it up with my family."

If Nebraska wins, Oregon could be voted the national champion in The Associated Press media poll. The coaches' poll automatically crowns the winner of the BCS game.

Colorado coach Gary Barnett said the Ducks deserve a share of the title if Nebraska beats Miami.

"Oregon played very, very well, with a lot of heart and a lot of speed," Barnett said. "If I could vote, I would vote for them."

It was the worst bowl loss ever for the Buffaloes, who rolled into Tempe after a 62-36 rout of Nebraska and a 39-37 victory over Texas in the Big 12 title game.

"Oregon did not get our best shot . . . and I don't have an explanation," Barnett said.

Colorado's Roman Hollowell said: "They just stopped the run, stopped our whole offense entirely."

The quick-striking Ducks (11-1) didn't have a touchdown drive longer than 2 minutes, 38 seconds.

The Buffaloes (10-3) took an early 7-0 lead, then watched the Ducks score 38 points.

"I thought it would be closer," Bellotti said. "I'm so very pleased for our players because they made that game fairly one-sided. . . . Our game plans on both sides of the ball did not give Colorado a chance."

Bobby Pesavento completed just 11 of 27 passes for 139 yards and was intercepted twice before being relieved by Craig Ochs with 11:52 to play.

"They're pretty good. They're real comparable to Texas," Pesavento said of the Ducks. "They've got a lot of good athletes, and they just wanted it more than we did."

Ochs' first pass was deflected and intercepted by Smith to set up Oregon's final touchdown in a victory Bellotti called "the greatest moment in Duck football history."

Harrington had 232 yards passing and three TD passes in the first half as the Ducks went ahead 21-7.

Colorado's usually powerful ground game, which gained 380 yards in the Nebraska victory, failed to convert on third-and-1 situations on consecutive possessions in the second quarter.

The first failure was especially costly. After a short punt gave Colorado the ball at the Oregon 48, Brown ran 8 yards to the 40 on the final play of the first quarter.

But he got just 1 yard on the next carry and no gain on third down.

Oregon took over on its 21, and on the next play Harrington lofted a pass that Parker took on his fingertips at the 35 and ran untouched into the end zone to put the Ducks up 14-7 with 13:13 left in the half.

The 79-yard pass play was the longest of Harrington's career and the longest allowed by the Buffaloes in any bowl game. It also tied a Fiesta Bowl record set by Tee Martin and Peerless Price for Tennessee in the national title game against Florida State in 1999.

"We earned a little respect," Steve Smith said. "I think we'll earn a lot more if Nebraska pulls out that victory."