Oregon’s win kickstarts the debate in earnest: Can the Ducks beat the SEC?

When a team is winning 43-7 in the second quarter, there isn't much more to say about the game itself.

Oregon blew out Arizona State, a 5-1 team that was playing at home. Had Chip Kelly held a grudge against the Sun Devils and wanted to run it up, Oregon might have gotten to 80. Or 90. Or more. Oregon's 43rd point came with a little less than 12 minutes left in the first half. The Ducks laid off and cruised to a 43-21 win.

The blowout allowed fans to go off on a tangent on social media, and the topic moved to how Oregon would do in the SEC, or how Oregon will do against the SEC in the BCS Championship Game (and after Thursday night, that seems to be where we're headed this season).

Some SEC fans took exception to the praise of Oregon, which was so good on Thursday night that it absolutely looked like it could win it all:

And so the debate, which at some point could also include the argument that a one-loss Florida or Alabama team deserves to play for the national title over an undefeated Oregon team, begins. SEC fans will argue that Oregon has already been proven inadequate against its best, because Auburn beat the Ducks in the BCS title game two seasons ago and LSU took them apart in the season opener last year. What has really changed since then?

Oregon's defense might be a little better, but it has still given up 21 or more points in four of seven games against a decent but not great schedule. The offense is explosive, but not that much more than the past few years. It seems that if an SEC coach like, oh maybe Nick Saban, is given weeks to prepare that SEC defense will prevail.

[Related: NCAA's response to New Jersey's gambling plan laughable]

But, on the other hand, this was the type of victory by Oregon that at least makes you think twice. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is dynamic and the freshman is getting better. He had a touchdown pass, rush and reception in the first half against Arizona State. Maybe this Ducks team can take the next step and turn all this talent and speed into a national title, even if it happens to face an SEC team in January. And Thursday's win did produce a hilariously vengeful tweet from former Pitt offensive lineman Jason Pinkston about Todd Graham, the coach that suddenly left the Panthers for Arizona State:

Anyway, if Oregon keeps playing like this, and the SEC ends up in the title game yet again, it'll be an interesting couple months of debating before we see if Oregon really is good enough to compete with the SEC.

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