In what should be one of the most entertaining and competitive seasons in recent memory, the Oregon Ducks look to maintain Pac-12 supremacy. Although the Ducks don’t have to face a tough preseason opponent or USC, once conference games hit, the Ducks better be ready for some battles, especially towards the end of the season.
Here are my predictions for each Oregon Ducks opponents record when they play the Ducks:
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Nicholls State will not only be 0-0 before playing the Ducks, but unless the plague somehow hits the Oregon Duck football team, they will be 0-1 afterwards.
Oregon will walk away with an easy victory, and will move on to 1-0 as they start to face more difficult competition in week two.
After a dismal 4-8 season, Virginia looks to rebuild with a new defensive coordinator in Jim Tenuta who will employ a more aggressive scheme than former defensive coordinator, Jim Reid. They also nabbed the top running back recruit in the nation in Taquan Mizzell. However, they have a young offensive line including a red shirt freshman-starting center. Before playing Oregon, Virginia will play at home vs. BYU. BYU will look to bounce back from a disappointing 2012 season in which they simply couldn’t put points on the board. Although they have had injury problems in their secondary and will start a sophomore quarterback, I think they pull this one out on the road and standout receiver Cody Hoffman has a big time game against a team still adjusting to a new defensive system.
After a half decade of mediocrity in which they have won between five and seven games every season, Tennessee looks to start anew with an utterly inexperienced offensive attack. The Volunteers lost not only starting quarterback Tyler Bray but their starting receivers as well. Suffice it to say, with a tough schedule including the Ducks and the always-relentless SEC, it will most likely be a tough year for Tennessee. But luckily for them, they face Western Kentucky and Austin Peay before playing Oregon.
Even more so than Virginia and Tennessee, the Golden Bears face a daunting preseason schedule before beginning Pac-12 play at Autzen Stadium. Their first opponent, BYU must be brimming with confidence after winning its first bowl game in 64 years and being three nail biter losses from going undefeated. Despite BYU’s inexperience offensive line, I just can’t see the Bears pulling this one out. After they defeat Portland State they will face a national championship caliber Ohio State team who didn’t lose a game last year. Everything would have to go right for Cal including some injuries, a raucous crowd and maybe some help from the marching band for Cal to defeat OSU.
The Buffaloes have not won a football game since a one-point victory over Washington State on September 28th, 2012, which was their only win of the season. After what we saw for the Buffs last season a semi-competitive season would be a step in the right direction. Because of a relatively weak preseason schedule against Colorado State, Central Arkansas and Fresno State, I am going to be optimistic and say they win one of those games before getting demolished by Oregon State.
Against the Huskies, Oregon will finally face a competent opponent. The Huskies return starting quarterback Keith Price, starting running back Bishop Sankey who quietly ran for over 1,400 yards last season, potential All-American, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and an experienced offensive line. Like the Volunteers, the Huskies have spent the last handful of years stuck in the position between good and bad known as mediocre. However, I see the Huskies really making strides next year and finishing in the 8-10 win range due to an explosive offensive attack. I think they start the season with a bang by shocking the Broncos and Fighting Illini before defeating Arizona and Idaho State. However, a tough Stanford team will bully them into submission.
The Cougars will look to continue its seemingly never-ending rebuilding process after a season in which its lone bright spot was an Apple-Cup victory. Despite lacking talent, the Cougars will be experienced next season returning 12 starters. We know that Mike Leach likes a pass heavy offensive attack, but 1.38 yards per carry is simply not going to keep defenses honest. Before playing the Ducks, WSU will certainly lose to Auburn, USC, Oregon State and Stanford. I also think they will lose to Cal because of inferior talent and lack of home field advantage. However, because of their experience and quality head coach I will give them the benefit of the doubt against Southern Utah and Idaho.
The Bruins have had a surprisingly successful two-year run, making it to Pac-12 championship game in 2011 and recording nine wins last season. While they will definitely miss running back Jonathon Franklin, quarterback Brett Hurley looks like a potential All-Pac 12 type player who should be able to keep the engine running without Franklin, especially considering their experienced offensive line. As far as defense is concerned, UCLA will be as stout as ever returning seven starters including All-American linebacker Anthony Barr. In preseason, UCLA will narrowly defeat an underrated Nevada squad and the overrated Nebraska Cornhuskers, and then wallop New Mexico State, Utah and California before a blockbuster matchup against Stanford. I think that due to the lack of weapons on Stanford, UCLA will bottle them up and win a close one, 13-10. If you couldn’t already tell, I sense a big season in store for the Bruins.
In order to justify the preseason hype, Stanford will have to cope with the losses of key playmakers Stephen Taylor and Zack Ertz and 80% of last years receiving yards. Fortunately, for Cardinal fans, like always, they have an excellent offensive line and defense. But the level of success Stanford achieves next season will be in congruence with the progress of sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan. The Cardinals were able to protect Hogan last season, but with the uncertain running game, his ability to read the defense and make plays with his feet will be paramount. Before their back-to-back matchups with UCLA and Oregon, Stanford has a light schedule and will most likely go 6-0 before faltering to UCLA.
A Kyle Wittingham team with Dennis Erickson as co-offensive coordinator and 12 returning starters can’t miss a bowl game for the second straight year, can they? Unfortunately, the answer is almost certainly yes. However, after defeating Utah State and Weber State, the Utes will beat Oregon State at home. Call me irrational or biased against Oregon State, but I think Utah pulls off the upset considering OSU’s habitual habit of blowing a game like this early on. Also, I think the presence of Erickson will propel Travis Wilson and a more experienced offensive unit to new heights. Unfortunately, they will employ a new defensive system with mostly inexperienced players. Despite defeating OSU, they lose their next six games before facing Oregon.
The Arizona Wildcats had a solid season last year, which culminated in a surprising victory over Oklahoma State in the New Mexico Bowl. Despite returning six starters, they lose star quarterback Matt Scott. The strategy this year will be to ride raining Pac-12 leading rusher Ka’Deem Carey as far as he can take them. They also return an astounding seven defensive starters. After defeating all three weak non-conference opponents, I think Arizona loses to Washington, upsets USC, then wins four of their next five before playing Oregon.
And last but not the least, Oregon will lace up for the Civil War, most likely with huge implications on the line. OSU looks to have a fairly stacked offensive unit led by two experienced quarterbacks in Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz, speedster Brandon Cooks and running back Storm Woods. OSU has a painfully easy start to the season and will win six of their first seven. However, I don’t foresee a victory over Stanford or even USC. Then they will pull off an emotional close victory over Arizona State and wallop Washington a week prior to the Civil War.