By now, most of you know what happened this past weekend. The heartbreak I felt after the first loss was quickly replaced with optimism for the future — because you can’t win every game, and the college football season has just started. Things are far from over.
As Caleb Couturie pointed out in his latest article, there are many positives to be found in Oregon’s loss.
The Ducks’ defense played good enough to win and kept Oregon in the game all night. Vernon Adams showed us his toughness and passion for the game through his gritty performance while playing through his finger injury.
And lastly, if we lost that game on the road on national television against a top 5 opponent — and still had a chance to win late in the game — imagine how great this team can be. We know we have the talent, but from here on out, it’s all about execution.
The best part about losing last weekend you ask? It’s when the loss happened. Not only will the Ducks have time to review the film and make adjustments to improve on the field — which the coaching staff is exceptional at, BTW – but the timing of the loss is everything.
The adage is: If you’re going to lose in college football, lose early; and if you do, lose to a top-5 out-of-conference team on the road.
Well, that’s exactly what happened to Oregon. For comparison, last year when the Ducks lost to Arizona, which was a loss to an unranked conference team at home during Week 5, they won every remaining game and returned to the College Football Playoff as the No. 2 team in the nation.
This loss gives the Ducks plenty of time to rebound this year, but they will likely need some help to do so.
Coming in at No. 12 in the latest AP Poll, Oregon is in almost perfect position to chase the playoff once again — if they can keep winning. If the Ducks lose another game, the chances of returning to the College Football Playoff will be almost astronomical; nowadays, two losses and you’re probably out. Last year, no team with two losses finished inside the top 6 going into the bowl season.
Aside from rooting on the Ducks, fans of the green and yellow need to root against some other top teams this week, as well. Here are a few games to keep your eyes on this weekend.
Before we begin, let’s just say that every Oregon fan should be rooting for Michigan State for the entire season. The more the Spartans win, the better it makes the Ducks look.
The first game to focus on this weekend is No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame. For argument’s sake, Notre Dame needs to lose at least one, preferably two games this season to ensure they don’t steal a playoff spot from a Power Five school.
The Irish have a few more games against ranked teams on the schedule, but I’d like to see them go down this weekend and then another time later — to USC, for example. If the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were to win, they would probably jump the Ducks this week — but I think that Oregon can win out, and I don’t believe Georgia Tech will. Go Ramblin’ Wreck!
Another huge game to keep our eyes on is No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama. Last season, the Tide’s only regular season loss came when they traveled to Oxford and lost a thriller to the Rebs, 23-17.
Both these teams have looked good this season, but smart money is on Bama to once again win the SEC and finish the season in the top 5. Again, Alabama is a team that most Duck fans always root against, and this week is no different.
If the Tide loses, that will make their climb to the playoff more difficult, and with games against ranked teams No. 7 Georgia, No. 17 Texas A&M, No. 13 LSU, and No. 18 Auburn remaining, it’s possible they could drop one of those games, as well.
Who knows, maybe they won’t even make it to the SEC title game. I would be OK with that. Root against Bama this weekend and hopefully the Rebels can get it done.
As we continue in the SEC, Georgia hosts South Carolina, and LSU hosts Auburn. Hopefully, either Georgia or LSU goes down this weekend, but I don’t see that happening, unfortunately.
South Carolina is off to a shaky 1-1 start to the season, and Auburn had to go to overtime in order to beat FCS Jacksonville State. Cross your fingers for South Carolina and Auburn to win. Crazier things have happened.
Now, let’s switch to the Pac-12.
The No. 6 USC Trojans host unranked Stanford this weekend, and we need USC to win this game. Oregon plays USC at home on November 11, and ideally the Trojans will be highly ranked when they head to Eugene.
The Ducks are going to need some wins against ranked teams to rebound from our loss, and if we beat a good USC team — that could possibly be No. 1 if some teams go down ahead of them — it will make Oregon look great come playoff time.
Hard for me to say this, but root for the Trojans until they come to Eugene. Let us ruin their perfect season later down the road.
Last, No. 21 Utah travels to Fresno State this weekend and we need the Utes to win. Next week, Oregon opens Pac-12 play against Utah, and it would benefit the Ducks if they were ranked when they head to Eugene.
If the Utes lose to Fresno State, they will definitely drop out of the Top 25 and be unranked for next weekend’s game. That’s not good for Oregon. Go Utes, we’re coming for you soon.
Things are beginning to get a little hectic this college football season, and the Ducks are in perfect position to benefit from the chaos. Oregon should dominate Georgia State this weekend, setting up the showdown to start Pac-12 play the following weekend. Check back next Wednesday for “Who To Root For — And Against.”
Duck fans, what other games will you be watching this weekend?
Top photo by Kevin Cline