Of the 26 teams to play in the Bowl Championship Series title game since the contest began in 1998, most are classic college football behemoths.
All but two -- Virginia Tech and Oregon -- had won a previous national title.
Almost all built their teams with a majority of in-state players; the Oregon Ducks have just 26 from Oregon and one in the starting lineup.
All but Oregon have stadiums that hold at least 66,000 fans -- some more than 100,000.
In short, Oregon is the outlier in the landscape of college football contenders.
And yet here are the Ducks, preparing to play Auburn on Jan. 10. Using ingenuity, continuity and a huge cash infusion from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Oregon has shown what it takes for those without a championship history, massive fan base or large pool of local talent to reach the title game.
Superior players and coaching are givens when it comes to crafting a national championship season. But outside factors can weigh heavily in building a program capable of reaching the title game. They don't automatically make a contender, but it's much rarer to contend without them.