EUGENE, Ore. - The Ducks came up just three points shy in the BCS national Championship game.
The disappointment from that loss to Auburn is serving as motivation for the 2011 Ducks.
"For us to get so close and have that last play be in my hands and let it slip away - that's motivation for me, and I know it's motivation for everybody else on the team," said senior rover Eddie Pleasant.
While the team is younger than last year, expectations are still as high as ever.
"We don't want to dwell on the past and just think about that bad day and we lost," said senior defensive end Terrell Turner. "We look at it as motivation now. We know we got there. We got to get there again and win it."
If that's going to happen, the Ducks will have to overcome some key losses, especially at wide receiver, offensive line and at tight end where depth is a concern with the retirement of Brandon Williams.
The backfield is loaded with Darron Thomas at quarterback, who despite some questionable off-the-field decisions is the unquestioned leader of the team.
LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner lead a deep and talented corps of tailbacks.
Defensively, the Ducks lost five of their starting front seven, but Oregon played over 20 guys on defense last year and that experience should pay dividends.
Even without the indefinitely suspended Cliff Harris, the secondary is solid with John Boyett at safety and Eddie Pleasant at rover.
Oregon may be at its best on special teams where both kickers return, both snappers are back and a stable of kick returners are competing for playing time.
Oregon will be tested right away when the third ranked Ducks play fourth ranked LSU in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 3.