With a rise to the second overall rank in the country and the final two games of the season against the only two teams with losing records in the Pac-12, the Ducks are comfortably on their way to the inaugural College Football Playoff. While the Ducks have dominated their opponents so far this year, how are they set to match up against the rest of the potential playoff programs?
Jason Gold of Bleacherreport.com has laid out a convincing argument that the Ducks will end this season as national champions. As expected the biggest factor that has lead Gold and the rest of the country to believe in the Ducks is their explosive offense lead by Heisman front-runner Marcus Mariota.
Mariota not only has the best passer rating in the nation but also ranks in the top 12 in passing yards per attempt (1st), touchdowns (2nd), passing yards (12th) and interceptions (10th). With an additional 524 rushing yards, Mariota is set to have one of the best seasons in college football history that he would love to top off with a national championship.
While the prolific Ducks’ offense is ranked fourth in the country in points per game and fifth in total offense, Gold points out that two other playoff contenders in TCU and Baylor are both ranked higher. However, they haven’t dealt with the same strength of schedule as the Ducks. Neither team has played a top 10 defense while Oregon has cruised to wins over Michigan State and Stanford averaging 508 yards and 45.5 points in each of those two games.
While the Ducks’ offense has amazed fans and opponents alike, the defense has been questioned all year as to whether they are strong enough to help the Ducks win a national title. Of the eight playoff contenders Gold lists, Oregon’s defense is ranked last, allowing over 450 yards a game and 25 points per game. Don’t let those numbers scare you though, the Ducks’ defense has also recorded 26 sacks and have forced 22 turnovers so far this season. For an offense that is averaging 46 points per game, the defense holding a team to 25 will be more than enough breathing room for Mariota and the offense.
As a Duck fan I fully believe that the Ducks are capable of winning out the season, crushing the Pac-12 South opponent in the title game–we’re looking at you Arizona–and proving to the country that the Pac-12 is one of the strongest conferences in the country. That belief is backed up by more than hopes, dreams and school spirit; the professionals at OddsShark.com are giving Oregon the second best chance to win the national title behind only Alabama.
With the Ducks firmly in control of their fate and a mere five wins away from a national title, the conclusion to an incredible college football season makes this a great time to be a Duck.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline