The No. 10 Ducks bid the preseason goodbye

By Anne M. Peterson

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Sept. 18 2011 9:35 p.m. MDT

Oregon running back LaMichael James, left, finds a hole through Missouri State defenders during the first half of their NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011.

Don Ryan, Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. — Running back LaMichael James had a couple reasons to be pleased following Oregon's victory over Missouri State. Not that he paused to consider the win or his own breakout performance.

He was already looking ahead to the Ducks' Pac-12 opener Saturday at Arizona.

"I'm really happy with the way we played, but this game is over and now we have to get back in here and study film," James said. "We're going on the road and it's going to be a tough opponent."

Oregon (2-1) starts the Pac-12 season as the league's two-time defending champion. The Ducks went undefeated last season before losing to Auburn in the BCS title game.

Oregon lost to LSU 40-27 in this year's opener, then rebounded to beat Nevada 69-20 and rout Missouri State 56-7 on Saturday at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks jumped two spots Sunday in The Associated Press Top 25 to No. 10.

While neither the Wolf Pack nor the Bears presented much of a challenge, Oregon coach Chip Kelly suggested the Ducks were able to work on details and address the mistakes that were costly in the opener.

"You really clean it up as you get into Pac-12 play. With the two new teams in it, the championship game, it's going to be an exciting season," Kelly said. "I really don't know how it's going to play itself out. By and large the Pac-12 season opens up next week for everybody, and we've got to be ready to go."

James believes the Ducks are making progress.

"We've been struggling a little bit, just because of chemistry," James said. "It takes time to get that game experience and understand that, and I feel like we're taking great strides. ... Everything's coming together like I thought it would."

It certainly came together for James on Saturday, when he rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns.

James' 90-yard TD run in the second quarter was Oregon's longest run since 1938, when Bob Smith had a 92-yard scamper against Idaho. James also had a 1-yard TD plunge in the first quarter and a 50-yarder in the third.

James now has 45 career touchdowns at Oregon, matching the school record set by Derek Loville (1986-89). It was the marquee back's fourth career 200-yard rushing game, and his 19th game with at least 100 yards.

James had been held to 54 yards in the loss to LSU. Then last week against the Wolf Pack he ran for 67 yards, but scored on a run, a reception and a punt return.

He averaged more than 144 yards rushing a game last season, when he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. After Saturday's performance, he upped his average this season to 108.3 yards.

James shrugged his earlier games off as anomalies.

"There's going to be games like that sometimes," he said. "As long as we keep winning, I'm happy."

Arizona (1-2) lost 37-10 to Stanford on Saturday night.

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