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Which Oregon football team is among the most influential of all time?

You can’t talk about the history of college football, especially in the 21st century, without bringing up Oregon football.

The Ducks recently named one of their teams one of the 30 most influential in college football history. The ESPN list goes back to 1899 and most recently to 2019.

The 2007 Oregon team was ranked No. 15. That season, the Ducks went 9-4, but most importantly for the game, it was Chip Kelly’s introduction to big-time college football.

Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart celebrates his touchdown run with wide receivers Garren Strong and Jaison Williams.

October 27, 2007; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart (28) celebrates his touchdown run with wide receiver Garren Strong (21, left) and wide receiver Jaison Williams (4) against the Southern California Trojans in the third quarter at Autzen Stadium. / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

With Mike Bellotti at the helm, the Ducks have only won more than eight games once in the past five years. The addition of offensive coordinator Kelly from FCS New Hampshire was a shot in the arm for the offense.

The Ducks were now operating at lightning speed, opening the year with an 8-1 record and rising to No. 2 in the AP poll. Quarterback Dennis Dixon became a Heisman Trophy favorite. UO broke the 50-point mark in four games and averaged more than 42 points per game.

But Dixon tore his ACL and the team struggled down the stretch. Still, the 2007 team propelled Oregon to consecutive seasons of nine or more wins for the first time since the start of the decade.

2010 Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly, center, and players Justin Hoffman, left, and Drew Davis, right, celebrate the Ducks' 37-20 victory over the Beavers.

2010 Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly, center, and players Justin Hoffman, left, and Drew Davis, right, celebrate the Ducks’ 37-20 victory over the Beavers. / Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard / USA

Kelly then took over the program in 2009 and posted four consecutive years of double-digit wins, including a trio of conference titles. The 2009 team finished at number 11, while the other three seasons finished in the top four.

Although Kelly’s tenure in Eugene lasted only six years total, his addition to the 2007 team had such an impact on college football that the offensive focus on distribution and acceleration became a staple across the country.

Other teams of importance in the rankings:

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