And here we are now.
You wouldn't expect this to be the week Kelly paid homage. He said, "When I look at them on tape, I don't say I'm looking at us to be honest with you."
Rodriguez was more accommodating. He called the two offenses "clouded mirror images" and noted "we're very similar philosophically. You see some of the same plays, some of the same kind of concepts."
Rodriguez sees in Oregon the spread offense operating at its highest level. "They've got a lot of fast guys playing fast," he said.
Bellotti said the misnomer about the spread is that it's a passing offense. "The biggest difference comes in the running game, not the passing game," he said.
Rodriguez got lucky Arizona left behind a fifth-year senior, Matt Scott, who fits perfectly into the scheme.
Kelly has a brilliant young protege, quarterback Marcus Mariota, pulling the spread strings.
Kelly has made his spread different by cranking the pace to breakneck speed, trying to cram as many plays into 60 minutes as possible. He rotates fresh players in and out, on offense and defense, in an attempt to wear down opposing teams.
Arizona's defense, in the understatement of the week, will be severely tested. "We're really short-handed and not deep enough," Rodriguez said. "We're just hanging on. This is going to be a huge challenge, certainly."
Bellotti will be in Eugene as part of ESPN's coverage crew. "It's going to be a ton of fun," he said.
Some Oregon fans might not think they owe Bellotti much.
They do owe him this: "Thank you."