It’s do-or-die time in Eugene; but don’t worry Duck fans, we have been here before. While the College Football Playoff is now most likely out of the equation, the season still has potential to end on a high note.
The Ducks lost this past weekend, but all is not lost for this team. It’s still early in the college football season, and things can still fall in Oregon‘s favor as the year continues. Oregon plays Colorado this weekend in a must-win game that could put the Ducks back into the Top 25 after falling out for the first time since 2009.
Of course, if the Ducks win every remaining game, they will finish with a very respectable 10-2 record, 8-1 in the Pac-12, and represent the North division in the Pac-12 championship game.
However, just to be on the safe side, all Duck fans should be rooting for a little chaos to ensue within the conference and across the nation.
There are plenty of good matchups to focus on this weekend, and with the Duck game kicking off at 7 p.m. PST, there is ample time to root against some other teams across the nation before cheering on the green and yellow Saturday night.
Here are a few games to keep your eyes on:
First up, is the No. 24 California Golden Bears. Cal currently sits atop the Pac-12 North standings with a 4-0 record and zero conference losses. This week they will host Washington State in a game that should see plenty of passing yards and points.
Cal struggled to put away Washington last weekend and if they have similar problems against WSU, things could go bad for the Bears quickly. Neither team has a defense that intimidates, so getting key stops and turnovers will likely decide the winner in this one.
California travels to No. 10 Utah in two weeks and could possibly be overlooking the Cougars this weekend. After falling to Portland State in Week 1, the Cougars have responded with back-to-back wins and head into Pac-12 ready to surprise the surprising Golden Bears. An upset would be great for the Ducks; Go Cougs.
Up next for the Pac-12 is Stanford, as the No. 18 Cardinal will host Arizona this Saturday. Last weekend, the Wildcats faced their first real test of 2015 and failed; they lost to No. 7 UCLA, 56-30.
Now it’s time for them to rebound. Like Cal, Stanford could see their own playoff dreams crushed at home if they don’t win this game. Since Arizona is in the southern division, any conference losses they can dish out to northern teams could greatly benefit the Ducks down the road.
The only Cardinal loss, so far, came from Northwestern, which means they are still undefeated in Pac-12 play — it’s time that changed. The head-to-head matchups are likely going to decide who wins both the North and the South divisions, but sending some extra bad mojo a team’s way never hurt.
Just like last week, let’s root for Arizona, and as always, against Stanford. Oregon fans would appreciate an upset, so come on Wildcats, do it for the Ducks!
Considering that only eight Pac-12 teams are in action this weekend, lets look elsewhere for someone to root against.
The B1G currently has five teams ranked in the Top 25 this week, but hopefully after this weekend, that number is a little smaller.
No. 22 Michigan has shocked a lot of people this year, coming in to the weekend at 3-1 and ranked for the first time since October 2013. Unfortunately for them, it’s time they fell out of the polls again.
The Wolverines head to Maryland this weekend as big favorites, but for the Ducks sake, a Michigan loss would likely put Oregon back into the Top 25. I’ll be rooting against them this week, feel free to join me.
Sticking with the B1G, No. 19 Wisconsin will host Iowa this weekend. The Hawkeyes are 4-0 on the season and looking to keep the momentum rolling headed into their first test of the season.
Again, a Badger loss likely puts the Ducks back into the Top 25, as Oregon is essentially the No. 27 team in the nation right now (second on the list of ‘Others Receiving Votes’ in the AP Poll).
As mentioned above with Michigan, let’s root against the Badgers this weekend.
Last, but not least, is No. 13 Alabama. They have a huge game this weekend when they face No. 8 Georgia on the road. If the Ducks can’t make the College Football Playoff, then I don’t want ‘Bama to either.
Even if the Crimson Tide lose, they probably won’t fall out of the Top 25, but a playoff berth will be lost and they will drop into the lower end of the rankings.
I smile whenever Alabama loses; hopefully there is a lot to smile about this weekend. Go Dawgs.
If you look at some key games in the Pac-12 down the road, especially during October, things set up nicely for the Ducks to benefit from other teams’ head-to-head games.
Oregon absolutely needs to get a win this weekend, and keep winning in the future, in order to stay relevant for this season and moving forward.
But with games against Colorado, Washington State, and Washington the next three weeks, the Ducks could be 5-2 and in prime position to contend for another Pac-12 championship.
It’s early, but things are beginning to take shape for the 2015 college football season. With plenty of key games on the horizon across the country, it’s time for the Ducks to rebound and get back to their winning ways.
The upsets are here to stay and the chaos of college football is only just beginning. Check back Wednesday for the next ”Who to Root for — and Against.”
Top photo by Kevin Cline