Lady luck has not served the Ducks well when it comes to non-conference scheduling. While athletic director Rob Mullens has tried his best to get top teams such as Kansas State and Georgia to play the Ducks to bolster the non-conference schedule, these teams have backed out. The reluctance of traditional football powers to go home-and-home with Oregon gives the Ducks three options this season. Win, win and win.
Although the Ducks will play BCS conference teams Virginia and Tennessee this season, neither is projected to make much noise. In turn, neither the BCS computers nor the voters will be impressed, assuming the Ducks beat these teams. The Ducks will likely have to win out to guarantee a shot at the national championship. Or, if they lose once they will have to pray that the BCS favors them over other one loss or no loss teams across the nation.
But thankfully there is a silver lining. The new playoff system, which will be in effect with the 2014 season, will place greater emphasis on winning the conference championship. As long as the Ducks win the Pac-12, even while losing one game throughout the entire season, they are almost guaranteed to be ranked in the top four of the BCS standings and consequently make the semi-finals.
In fact, if the NCAA had always used a playoff system, the Ducks could have had a shot at three more national titles: 2001, 2011 and last year. In 2001 and last year the Ducks finished the regular season number four. In 2011, they finished number five but won the Pac-12, giving them a solid shot at a playoff berth.
For the Ducks, playoffs equal possibilities.
Feature photo courtesy of Kevin Cline.