Let it be said that a team is not going to beat the Ducks by being defensively-oriented. Stanford, the second best defense in the country at the time, lost to Oregon by 29. The Ducks beat the best and the second-best pass rushing teams by a combined 49 points. An opponent simply can’t just have a good defense and expect to beat the Ducks, it’s not going to work. Marcus Mariota is too good, the offense is too balanced, and Mark Helfrich is too good at making adjustments on the fly.
If a team is going to compete against the Ducks, they’re going to have to outscore them. Since the Ducks are the third-best offense in the country, this is no easy feat. The only teams that score more points per game than the Ducks are Baylor and Marshall, but only Baylor is currently in the playoff picture.
Not far behind Oregon, however, are TCU and Ohio State, both of whom are in the playoff picture. If Ohio State, Baylor and TCU all win out, then those teams would all be under strong consideration for a playoff spot, along with Alabama, Florida State and Mississippi State.
In short, there will be at least one other offense in the final playoff picture that at least is on par with Oregon. So, if it all ended today, who are the teams the Ducks would want to play the least?
3: Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama still has to play in the infamous Iron Bowl, and needless to say Auburn will give em’ everything they’ve got, but something about this Bama team has me feeling like they’re going to the playoffs. Nick Saban’s team just beat the No. 1 team in the nation, and other than a very difficult road matchup against one of the most underrated teams in the nation, Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide has looked good this season. Judging this team’s offense by their numbers wouldn’t be fair to them. Although, as a rule, the SEC is overrated, it’s still fair to say that it’s the most difficult conference in which to play in that CFB has to offer.
The thing that scares me most about Alabama isn’t its offense as a whole, but instead its individual play makers. T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry are the perfect combination of strength and speed when it comes to CFB’s RB duos, and Amari Cooper (below) is the consensus No. 1 receiver in all of College Football. Finally, QB Blake Sims will definitely never be Marcus Mariota, but he does have the ability to make plays with his feet and keep drives alive, which thus far has been an Achilles’ Heel for the Ducks.
#2: TCU Horned Frogs
There’s a whole lot of things that are scary about this team, and not a whole lot of things that aren’t. For starters, this team averages just .1 points per game less than we do. As for their individuals, TCU’s QB, Trevone Boykin, is one of the most impressive young dual threat QBs in the nation, accumulating 31 total TDs so far. Not to mention RB Aaron Green who averages 8.3 yards per carry, as well as all three of TCU’s top WRs who average more than 16 yards per reception.
To make it simple, TCU has tons and tons of playmakers. Not only do the Horned Frogs have these offensive playmakers though, but they have a secondary that is in the top five teams in the nation in picks. If an offense of this caliber also has a defense that can turn Marcus Mariota over, I’d be happy to see both units watching the playoffs from their respective couches.
#1: Baylor Bears
Baylor is like Cal but on steroids. The Bears lead the nation in almost every offensive statistical category in all of college football, and they’re lead by the best senior QB in the nation, Bryce Petty. They proved how dangerous they are with an impressive comeback win late in the game against TCU, managing to score 61 points against a talented Horned Frogs’ defense.
Baylor also dismantled Oklahoma by 34 points, which was during one of the Bears’ seven games thus far in which they’ve scored 45 points or more. As for their defense, they’re nothing special. They can however force timely turnovers, and honestly the Ducks couldn’t afford to turn the ball over against these guys if they meet them come playoff time. It would be a shootout for the ages, but in a perfect world the Ducks wouldn’t have to play them at all.
Top photo from en.wikipedia.org