DALLAS - All the points, victories and quirky uniforms haven't quite been enough for Oregon to fully complete its transformation into the king of college football.

DALLAS - All the points, victories and quirky uniforms haven't quite been enough for Oregon to fully complete its transformation into the king of college football.

The Ducks, fueled by financial backing from alum and Nike founder Phil Knight, have morphed into a nationally known brand entering tonight's national championship game against Ohio State.

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"We've become a trademark," said cornerback Troy Hill, one of three Ohioans on a roster that includes players from 20 states. "Obviously, we're doing something right. Before, back in the day, Oregon was 'Who? Where is Oregon at?' "

Oregon is now known for a cutting-edge, up-tempo offense that averaged 47.2 points this season, and is led by junior quarterback Marcus Mariota, the school's first Heisman Trophy winner.

The Ducks (13-1) scored enough to win their fourth Pac-12 championship in six years, and they won their fourth consecutive bowl game last week in defeating defending national champion Florida State 59-20 in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl.

Oregon enters tonight's championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with a 70-10 record since 2009, second only to Alabama (72-9).

Still, none of the dash-and-flash has been enough for Oregon to shake a lingering reputation among those outside the program.

"A lot of people feel like we come up short a lot," said freshman running back Royce Freeman, who leads the Ducks with 1,343 rushing yards.

Oregon lost the Bowl Championship Series title game four years ago when Wes Byrum of Auburn kicked a field goal as time expired for a 22-19 victory.

Since then, the Ducks have heard their spread offense and often-porous defense is "soft." That label was enhanced after Oregon suffered crucial league defeats to old-style Stanford in 2012 and '13.

A similar story line hovers around tonight's game, even though OSU's high-scoring offense under Urban Meyer is much more dynamic than the one Jim Tressel used when the Buckeyes defeated the Ducks 26-17 in the 2010 Rose Bowl.

"We're known as a pass-happy air-circus?" Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "That's a new one. We've been called a circus. I mean, we've led our conference in rushing for several years now in a row."

Questions touching on a style-versus-substance theme left Helfrich defensive about Oregon's offense being more than a gimmick.

"It's a fad in a lot of people's minds," he said.

And Helfrich, 24-3 in two seasons as the Ducks' coach, was peppered with questions about Meyer, who is looking to add to the two national titles he won at Florida.

One reporter asked Helfrich: "What does it mean to be in the shadow of an iconic, superstar coach?"

"We certainly don't think we're in anybody's shadow, and it's we," he said. "It's our team versus their team."

Oregon isn't as complete a team as it was on Dec. 5, when the Ducks defeated Arizona 51-13 in the Pac-12 championship game.

All-America cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will not play for Oregon tonight because of a knee injury he suffered last month.

The Ducks also will be without two of their top three receivers, Devon Allen and Darren Carrington.

Allen was lost when he suffered a knee injury on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl.

Carrington was ruled ineligible for tonight's game, reportedly for failing an NCAA-administered drug test after the Rose Bowl by testing positive for marijuana.

The Ducks have vowed to be resilient.

"Our guys have a ton of confidence in what they're doing," Helfrich said.

Oregon's only concern is taking the final step tonight.

"We've got one chance to make an awesome, great memory," junior defensive end Arik Armstead said.

Do so, and the Ducks can prove they are more than a DayGlo circus.

"It would validate things externally a lot more than internally," Helfrich said.

So look for Oregon to do what it does: push the pace at breakneck speed.

"We want to get them to think," senior center Hroniss Grasu said. "We want to get them on their heels. We want to get those guys to run around and fatigue them."

Failure will only leave the Ducks further dogged about coming up short.

"We need to make the most of the opportunity," Mariota said.

tjones@dispatch.com

@Todd_Jones