Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mail-Bag Response

BonesMccoy writes:

           Here is how I see things playing out.

           Oregon goes to the National Championship Game to play Alabama
           Oregon State is picked up by the Orange Bowl to play Kansas State

          USC goes to the Rosebowl to play Nebraska.
          Pac - 12 rakes in Millions and distributes it to all 12

Bones, thank you for reading my posts! And I absolutely love your optimism about our conference this year.

To be short, no. Love it, but no way no how.

.... But then again.

With UO going to the national championship, I believe that the Rose Bowl DOES get to extend an offer to any team it wants. And the Trojans with Ken Doll look-a-like Matt Barkley leading the way sure would be a good financial choice on their part. There are A LOT of USC fans that miss going to the Rosebowl nearly every year. It would guarantee an absolutely packed stadium and USC would likely be favored against whichever Big-10 team decides to be the least horrible.

Here is the crux in our hypothetical little world. If USC and Oregon state hadn't thrown up on themselves last week (USC lost to Arizona and Oregon State lost to UW) then this would be somewhat feasible, though still an absurdly long shot. By long shot, I actually mean impossible. There are actual BCS rules limiting the number of teams from a conference to two. You may recall last year a very upset 5th ranked 11-2 Arkansas team, with only losses to LSU and Alabama, demanding a spot in a BCS game.

They didn't get it.

Assuming that Oregon wins out and goes to the National Championship, the winner of the Oregon State - Stanford game will most likely be who goes to the Rose Bowl. Remember, assuming that Oregon goes undefeated is also assuming that USC has 3 or 4 losses. Even though they would stand up favorably against the Big-10 Champ, they wont go to a BCS bowl.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

BCS Thoughts - 4 Team playoff can't come soon enough.

First is the choking realization that Oregon's hopes for reaching Miami for the National Title Game are nearly dead with USC and Oregon State's losses tonight. Their strength of schedule has just been flushed down the proverbial toilet and will likely not stand up to undefeated Kansas State and Notre Dame with these marquee games diminished. The computers have already shown they prefer those teams and with Oregon's future games weakened in their all knowing eyes, expect the Ducks to stay where they are in the rankings. This is why we need the 4-Team playoff. It takes the best teams in college football and really gives them a chance to win it all. I personally can't  wait until that is finally implemented here in a few seasons.

Second, a quandary has befallen my ever churning mind.
Does Oregon want to win the Pac-12 Championship?

To be clear, I'm being completely facetious. I wouldn't dare suggest that our team do anything to give up being Pac-12 Champs a fourth straight year, but think for a moment about what it would mean in the post season. Ohio State, the clear front runner in the Big 10, is ineligible for the Rosebowl because of sanctions on the team. Which leaves a bit of a mystery as to who will be playing on the other side of the field down in Pasadena.

A 13-0 Pac-12 Champion Oregon would face, what, a 3 loss Wisconsin team? A Nebraska that got beat by UCLA?

Imagine if you will, Oregon starting the Pac-12 championship game with Bryan Bennett and the backups. Arizona (yes Arizona, more on that later) leads at the half  24-17. When a reporter asks Chip Kelly what is going on, he quickly replies out of the side of his mouth
"I want our back-ups to get just a little more experience before we play Notre Dame"

And that's when it sinks in. A 12-1 Oregon would get picked up by an at large bowl like the Fiesta Bowl to play against Notre Dame/Florida/Georgia/someone-a-heck-of-a-lot-better-than-the-Big-10-Champ. That game would be infinitely better than Oregon trouncing a 2-3 loss team, both for the fans and the TV revenue.

It also locks 2 BCS teams from the Pac-12, a situation that does not look quite as given after this week of mayhem. Oregon would get to play against a foe it deserves and the conference would let someone else beat up on whatever the Big 10 can wrangle together. That is good for the conference image and good for the conference wallet.

I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend Review

This week went pretty much as expected for most of the teams. Le'ts take a look around the conference and see what happened this weekend.

Oregon 43 - ASU 21

Oregon whipped ASU 43-7 in the first half and then slept through the second on the way to victory. The defense shined and the offensive line gelled. It was a very good night for the Ducks.

Stanford 21 - Cal 3

This isn't the Stanford that Andrew Luck led and there were some questions about the seeming inability to play on the road. Stanford wasn't amazing, and both teams scoring 0 points all second half provided for one of the most boring 30 minutes of college football I have seen in a long time. But Stanford gets the W.

USC 50 - Colorado 6

Barkley & Co. got some of their rhythm back against the always struggling Buffs. It doesn't get easier for Colorado as they have to travel to Autzen Stadium to face the Ducks next week.

Oregon State 21 - Utah 7

Sometimes the Beavers look unstoppable. Sometimes they look overwhelmingly mediocre. It doesn't matter because they keep getting those W's. I believe the Beavs are actually the saving grace for Oregon's BCS title hopes this year, more on that to come.

Arizona 52 - Washington 17

This was the surprise of the weekend. While many people thought Arizona could win this game, I don't think ANYONE predicted it to be such a slaughter house. The Huskies had just finished a stretch of three highly ranked teams in a row and had come out 1-2. This gave hope that they could blitz through the second half of their schedule with ease and end about 9-3. Now they will be playing to make it into a bowl game at all, the schedule looks easy enough towards the end, but never try to guess what might happen in Pullman in late November.

Thanks for reading! Take a minute to check out the weekly polls and feel free to comment below!

Up Next : Style Points Matter

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oregon vs ASU Review

There were a lot of things that I expected and a lot of things I did not. The score was eerily close to my prediction(38-21), but certainly not in the manner in which I guessed.

Things that went as expected

  • The Ducks did struggle early on. For approximately one minute and twelve seconds. 
  • The Sun Devils were as blitz happy as ever. Getting to Mariota and causing a fumble on the second play of the game definitely seemed like the realization of our fears for this game, even if just for a moment.
  • Kenjon Barner had a monster night. 143 yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • The Ducks did utilize the running game and a lot of it. 406 of their 454 yards were on the ground.
  • The ball hawking secondary was up to it again. 4 different players with an interception for Oregon against a QB who hadn't had an interception all season.

Things that did not go as expected

  • DeAnthony Thomas was held to a puzzling 25 yards on 12 carries. I believe that this knocks him squarely out of the Heisman Race, but that doesn't mean the Ducks should necessarily fret. More on that in a coming post.
    • Players who got more yards on less carries than DAT: Marcus Mariota - Byron Marshall - Bryan Bennett.
  • Colt Lyerla played virtually no role - walked off at half with a slight limp.
  • The Ducks absolutely manhandled the ASU defense, do not let the final score fool you. More on that to come.


Barner is a strong candidate, but Marcus Mariota just astounds me. After coughing up the ball and the lead, he calmly responds by leading the ducks to 43 unanswered points. He did not have the struggles I thought he would in this game going 9 of 12 passing and rushing for 135 yards. He now holds the longest rushing play all year on an 86 yard TD run. Also, assuming no other QB has a freakishly good weekend, he will now be the #1 rated QB in the conference. On top of that he had 1 passing, 1 rushing, and even 1 receiving touchdown on the night. Can I hear a 2014 Heisman?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oregon vs Arizona State Preview

This was a game that was almost completely ignored in the off-season. The reasons for this were many:
  • New ASU Coaching Staff
  • Loss of many notable players such as Brock Osweiler, Vontaze Burfict,  Aaron Pflugrad and Bo Moos
  • 6 losses in 7 games to end last season (win was over Colorado)
So it's easy to see how Oregon would initially ignore the Thursday night road test against the Sun Devils. Let's take a deeper look at ASU, specifically on offense, and try to preview the night to come.

ASU is sitting at 5-1 (3-0) and in the lead of the Pac-12 South Division. This is partly because of who they have played so far, but mostly because of a stellar offense. Last week our poll of who the #1 team in the Pac-12 South was gave us the resounding answer ASU. Ted Miller of ESPN even has an ASU player as his #1 choice for offensive AND defensive player of the year, which seems a little bit absurd to me. Statistically the #1 QB in the Pac-12 doesn't look like a Ken doll directing the marching band with a sword. He doesn't wear purple and he isn't from Hawaii. The #1 QB in the conference is Taylor Kelly of ASU. Completing over 71% of his passes through October and 14 Touchdowns to two interceptions on the season. Impressive statistics but against mediocre competition so far.

Do we all remember who had the best offense statistically in the Pac-12 on September 21? That would be the Arizona Wildcats and that statistic changed very abruptly the next day. I expect Oregon to win this game, but the question is in what fashion?

Less points than you would expect

Two specific stats lead me to believe that this may be Oregon's lowest scoring game so far. 

First of all the Sun Devils are 9th in the country for points against, allowing only 14.2 per game. Take out FCS team Northern Arizona and they still allow a salty 15 points per game. 

Second is the fact that Marcus Mariota played the worst game of his young career against Washington State in the only other road game so far (not even a REAL road game) completing under 65% of his passes and throwing two picks and one TD. Mix these two stats together and you have what appears to be a recipe for upset. Sun Devil stadium will be roaring and Mariota will find a much more hostile environment. To be honest I expect him to struggle early as he did in Seattle.

Why Oregon Will Win

The competition so far against ASU has been pretty poor, with the best team they have faced being Cal, who they struggled against. The most telling statistic for me is that Taylor Kelly has been sacked 11 times in 6 games, and they haven't faced a defense as sack-happy as Oregon's. Kiko Alonso is going to have a great night getting to Taylor. Pressuring the QB means forcing bad decisions and our team has shown a penchant for intercepting throws when the pressure is on. ASU scores their points in the air and Oregon has developed two amazing talents at corner back to combat this in Terrance Mitchell and Ifo-Ekpre-Olomu. They will look to make mismatches with their 6'3" tight end and leading receiver Chris Coyle over the middle but the bend-don't-break style of defense we play should keep large gains from happening.

How Oregon Will Win

It sounds simple but we just need to "Run the Ball". Run to set up the short pass. Run to set up the play option. Run to set up the Run. Establishing the run game builds Mariota's confidence, it reduces the likelyhood of him being sacked or throwing an interception, and it puts the ball in the hands of our most skillful assassins players. Don't turn the ball over. Nothing deflates an offense like a few fumbles or interceptions. The run game helps with this but Oregon has been sloppy so far with ball control. DeAnthony Thomas is overdue for a break-out game, and if they focus him too hard as other teams have, Kenjon Barner will wreak havoc. This will be the best defense and the most difficult venue we have experienced so far but that will only slow down the ducks.

Oregon 38 - ASU 21

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Poll and Post

Once a week we are going to post a poll and go over the results a week later.

This weeks question is:

Rosebowl Victory or
National Championship Defeat -
Which is better for a program?

The 2010 and 2011 seasons got me thinking. Which situation is better for a program? 2010 was a spectacular year that had Oregon going 12-0 in the regular season before losing a close national championship to Auburn. 2011 was a great season in which the team faced some struggles going 10-2 but ended beating a great Wisconsin team on a national stage.

Is it better to win a very good game, than arrive to and lose the greatest of them all? Or is just arriving at that point itself more meaningful for the program? Post your thoughts and vote in the poll!

Monday, October 15, 2012

BCS Rankings: Logic and Reaction

So the first BCS rankings are out and many Duck fans are infuriated about being placed at #3. The general reaction by the media has been simply this.

Relax Duck Fans. Alabama and Florida will play each other and you will be just fine.

The logic for Florida to be ranked ahead of Oregon in the computers is pretty simple and makes sense. Florida has defeated LSU and Texas A&M. Both victories are more impressive than any Oregon has on the books. It is also true that Alabama and Florida would play eachother in the SEC championsip game. So Duck fans, you can breath easy. You do not need to worry about Florida AND Alabama being ahead of you.

However... just behind the ducks is where the real issue lies. 

Both Kansas State and Notre Dame can make compelling arguments. If Kansas State goes undefeated in a Big-12 that has 7 ranked teams (yes 7) they
will have a strong case. If only they had let us beat them in September like we originally planned!

And then there is Notre Dame. Worse than USC and Michigan as far as media bias, and unfortunately it seems they may have a team just good enough to back it up. An undefeated Notre Dame would likely slip past Oregon to the #2 spot. Lets take a quick glance at what needs to happen to stop this.

1. Notre Dame can lose a game.

The best bets for this are Oklahoma or USC. The Trojans don't appear to have the firepower to get the job done so the best hope is for the Sooners, though this causes an issue with boosting K-State's resume.

2. Notre Dame schedule can be weakened.

This would involve the quality opponents on Notre Dame's schedule to tank hard, including USC and Stanford. We would have to root for ASU to emerge in the south and OSU to whip up on Stanford hard. Beating OSU and ASU would provide the signature wins for Oregon instead of USC and Stanford.

So in short. There is no need for panic yet, one of the teams in front of us will fall. Just keep an eye on the teams behind us.

Update 6:48 PM - Here is an ESPN take on the situation.

Next Up: Post and Poll - Rosebowl Victory or BCS Championship defeat? Which is better for the program?