GLENDALE, Ariz. The Oregon Ducks still have a great deal to boast about the best season in school history, undefeated in Pac-10 play, record ticket sales and an amazing BCS championship game against the also-undefeated Auburn Tigers.
In the press conference that followed the Ducks 22-19 loss to the Tigers Monday night, head coach Chip Kelly promised, we ll be back.
I m just really proud of my players. I love these guys, Kelly said. They ve competed, they ve done everything we ve ever asked them to do. It s a special group of young men.
Sports analysts were already backing Kelly s promise on Tuesday, particularly because Ducks stars LaMichael James and Darron Thomas will both be returning as juniors next year.
We are going to play plenty more football games. We are going to win plenty more, James said following Monday s game I think this is a lesson for us. Nobody likes to lose. It really hurts... I think we are going to be really determined in the offseason to get back out there next year and work harder.
The BCS game was an offensive anomaly for the Ducks, who are known for big yards, big points and breakneck speed. Oregon led the nation in scoring with an average of 43.3 a game, while putting up an average of 537.5 yards in total.
But not against Auburn.
James, a Heisman candidate and the nation's leading rusher with 153 yards a game, was held to just 49 yards. As a whole, Oregon's rushing attack managed 75 yards, well under its average of 304. Quarterback Darron Thomas threw for 363 yards and two scores, but he was intercepted twice and sacked twice.
Kelly s response the BCS game does not define his team or his individual players.
I said at my first game when I was a head coach, that one game does not define you as a person, as a football player and the same thing still holds true, Kelly said. These guys are champions, I love em.
Slideshow:BCS game highlights & lowlights
(The Associated press contributed to this report.)