Should Ducks Fans Be Upset With Sporting News’ Rankings?
The release of AOL Sporting News’ college football top-25 rankings has come with mixed reactions from fans and experts across the country, including fans of the high-expectation Oregon Ducks football team.
The top-5 goes as following: No. 1 LSU Tigers, No. 2 USC Trojans, No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide, No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners, and No. 5 Virginia Tech Hokies.
Oregon comes in ranked No. 11 behind unproven teams like the Texas Longhorns, Kansas State Wildcats, Florida State Seminoles and Virginia Tech. The shock comes when most analysts like the ones at ESPN put the Ducks at No. 4 (where many figure Oregon to be ranked). Expert Phil Steele has Oregon at No. 7 and Athlon Sports projecting them at No. 4 as well.
Here’s what the experts at Sporting News said about the Ducks…
If any other team lost the school’s all-time leading rusher (LaMichael James) and its all-time leader in touchdown passes (Darron Thomas), there would be major concerns. That’s not the case at Oregon. The Ducks do have to find a quarterback and get some receivers to grow up, but they are still talented enough to challenge for the Pac-12 and national titles. After all, they do still have De’Anthony Thomas, an explosive player who can break away for big gains as a receiver or out of the backfield. Running back Kenjon Barner would already be a star on any other team. The linebacker corps, led by Michael Clay, is talented. Incoming true freshman Arik Armstead, at 6-8 and 297 pounds, should make an immediate impact.
While it’s easy to make the same case that Oregon, losing it’s all-time TD passing quarterback (Darron Thomas) and maybe the best running buck in school history (LaMichael James), will have question marks and holes in big positions like the aforementioned programs, those losses don’t seem to have too many Ducks fans seriously concerned.
Oregon brings back Bryan Bennett who has playing experience during Thomas’ injury periods in 2011, and Kenjon Barner who was probably the best back-up running back in college football last season.
The Ducks are loaded with talent. That much is obvious. The one problem with Oregon is the lack of certainty in what they’ve got.
If Marcus Mariota wins the starting QB job from Bryan Bennett, who knows how he’ll perform on a big stage like, say, USC in November? Nobody does. You can make the same case for Bennett. His lone-start came against a Colorado team that had a defense so laughable that even a high school QB could complete over 50% of his passes.
You know what should make Ducks fans sleep well at night? Oregon has a cupcake schedule for the first five games with the team’s toughest competition coming from a still rebuilding Washington State Cougars program that hasn’t seen success since the current players were in junior high school. Oregon will have plenty of time to rotate guys in and see what pieces fit the puzzle together before their first real challenge on October 6th against the rival Washington Huskies.
So to answer the question originally asked, no Ducks fans should not be offended or even really care about what a bunch of writers at AOL think. This team will have plenty of time to prove its merit and climb the ranks. If this team has what it takes to make a January bowl game, then this poll means nothing.
Keep cool, Ducks fans, and remember football is now just one month away.