Excluding one minor slip up, the loss to Arizona at home, the Ducks have dominated their competition. Their average margin of victory this season, not including the loss, is just over 26 points per game. On the flip side, an undefeated FSU team struggled against many ACC foes on their way to an 11.7 average winning margin. More importantly, when FSU played their final seven games (which are supposed to be against the best teams on their schedule) that margin shrank to just over six points per game.
When Oregon played in their conference championship, they demolished an Arizona team that had beaten them just a few weeks earlier. Their 38-point victory solidified them as one of the best four teams in the nation, whereas FSU squeaked by Georgia Tech with a two-point victory.
This is a long, elaborate way of saying both teams are going to have to adjust their norms if they expect a W in the Rose Bowl. For Oregon, the competition in the Pac-12 was fierce. Arizona and UCLA were very good teams, and a strong win against Michigan State made the Ducks look even better. With that said, FSU is better than any of the teams the Ducks have faced.
The Seminoles are big on the D-line, led by studs Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman, and they’re fast at the skill positions. Rashad Greene is maybe the best all around receiver the Ducks will have played this season, and of course there’s the obvious: Jameis Winston. The Pac-12 is loaded with talented QBs, many of whom the Ducks faced, but none can compare to what Winston brings to the table.
Oregon, a team accustomed to blow-out wins, will most likely need to make a major attitude adjustment if FSU comes out and punches them in the mouth. Oregon’s defense is depleted, and if Winston is in a rhythm, the Ducks could find themselves behind early.
As for FSU, the Ducks are without a doubt also the best competition they will have faced. In regular season play, the Noles could afford to make mistakes (see Winston’s three first half picks against Florida). The teams they faced weren’t all that good, and they certainly didn’t have the offenses to take advantage of FSU’s blunders. Oregon is a different beast. Led by the most talented dual-threat QB in all of CFB, the Ducks’ dynamic offense will make quick work of turnovers and other mental mistakes.
For FSU, being flawless is the only option. Mistakes are no longer a luxury they can afford. For the Ducks, a reality check is most likely in order. Although they are favored by nearly 10 points, this is an FSU team that hasn’t lost a game since 2012 and certainly won’t go down willingly. If anything, I’d expect this to be a close game that could come down to a “who has the ball last” scenario.
Top photo from en.wikipedia.org