The Oregon Ducks had this past weekend off, but the rest of the Pac-12 stayed busy as we make our way toward the release of first College Football Playoff Rankings of 2015. In anticipation of their release on November 3, ESPN’s Kevin Gemmell released his Pac-12 Power Rankings on the ESPN Pac-12 Blog following Week 8’s action.
Oregon found itself ranked right in the middle of the rankings at sixth, down one spot from last week. They were jumped by the LA squads after big home wins by USC against previously undefeated No. 3 Utah and by UCLA against No. 20 Cal and ESPN darling Jared Goff (seriously, can we stop with the Aaron Rodgers comparisons already?).
The Golden Bears fell past our Ducks to eighth in Gemmell’s rankings.
The big news in the North Division is the dominance of Stanford and under-the-radar running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has put together quite the season through Week 8, and really deserves more credit outside Pac-12 and west coast circles.
He has scored all of his touchdowns since the Pac-12 schedule began, and has eclipsed the 100-yard mark rushing every week since the Cardinal’s Pac-12 opener.
Against Washington he was equally impressive catching the ball, with 5 catches and 115 yards and a TD to compliment his 109 yards and a TD on the ground. McCaffrey and Stanford have made it clear over the last few weeks that the North runs through Palo Alto this season.
Speaking of the Pac-12 North, following a Week 7 win at Washington, Vernon Adams has come out and stated he believes the Ducks can run the table and play for the Pac-12 title on December 5.
In an article from Fox Sports, when Adams was asked about Oregon’s chances to win out, he replied: “I think we can do that and we have a good shot at it.”
You would expect Adams to say something to this effect. It’s part of his role as the quarterback and team leader. But can Oregon actually win out and get a spot in the Pac-12 title game?
The schedule is tough going forward, but that sets the Ducks up for a second-half leap in the rankings, especially if they can top Stanford on the road.
However, in addition to Stanford, both Cal and Washington State are ahead of the Ducks in the division, with the Cougars holding a tiebreaker over the Ducks after their surprising win in Eugene.
According to ESPN’s Chantel Jennings, Oregon spent its bye week “digging in” as opposed to resting for the long haul. Usually in the bye week, reserves such as QB Morgan Mahalak would get the majority of the reps while the starters rest.
However, this week it has been Adams who has been getting the majority of the work in an effort to further familiarize himself with the offense.
Receiver Darren Carrington is also playing catch-up with the playbook after his season debut against Washington. He did have 125 yards and 2 TDs in that game, but spending the bye week getting in extra reps with Adams and the first team offense will be vital for the stretch run.
Looking at the immediate future, Oregon faces Arizona State in Tempe this Thursday in prime time on ESPN. The Sun Devils (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) are also coming off a bye. In their last game, they lost to Utah, 34-18.
Should be a barn-burner in Tempe.
Top Photo by John Sperry
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