Yet the Ducks were 2nd to Louisiana Tech in points/possession. The first key to success, obviously, is 6.33 yards/rush, second only to Texas A&M. Oregon didn't have the nation's most explosive rushing offense, but no one was better at getting more than 10 yards on a carry. Oregon had three players (Thomas, Mariota, and Barner) in the top 30 nationally among qualified players in carries for 10+ yards/rush. The second key is that Oregon scored touchdowns 81% of the time in the red zone. That's a lot.
Texas A&M and Baylor were more efficient on offense than Oregon at the end of the season, but Oregon finished higher on this list because they paired their elite offense with a top 15 defense. The Ducks were elite at preventing explosive plays - no team allowed fewer yards/completion - and top 10 against the pass. They were solid on 3rd downs, few forced more turnovers, and they were almost as good on defense in the red zone as they were on offense.
First on Mariota. He was really good last year; only he and Devin Gardner were in the top 10 in EPA+/pass and per rush among quarterbacks, and Gardner's rushing numbers are more fluke than real. But Manziel produced 45% more schedule-adjusted points (EPA+), a stat with an incredible track record of predicting Heismans. How? First, Manziel had 43% more attempts, but Manziel was still more efficient on a per play basis. How is that? Oregon only threw the ball on 37% of plays. Manziel was a more efficient runner than Mariota and he attempted 123 more passes than Mariota. Mariota won't win the Heisman in 2013 because 1) Manziel is still better but (and as I write this, still eligible) and 2) Oregon's offense won't let him rack up the necessary numbers.
For the team, as long as the coaching transition doesn't produce too much indigestion, Oregon should be playing again for the national championship against another SEC team (but definitely not Auburn). Oregon will be the best team not playing in the SEC, and they should have a loss to give and still be the top choice to get a shot at knocking off the SEC champ - as long as that loss isn't to Stanford (in case you're wondering, that does mean I am fairly confident that every major conference, non-SEC team outside of Oregon will lose a game).