Oregon’s Road to the Playoffs

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We were dead Ducks, our season was (allegedly) over. Oregon was written off following a Thursday night loss to Arizona inside of Autzen back in the first week of October… But look at us now! Following two statement wins in which Oregon dismantled UCLA and Washington, the Ducks are in prime position to make it to the big dance, College Football’s inaugural Playoff.

The first poll from the College Football Selection Committee will be released on Tuesday. Is Oregon going to be in the top four? It’s not likely (we’ll probably be 6th), but don’t fret. Four of the top five teams will most likely be teams that belong to the SEC West.

1) Mississippi State (SEC West)
2) Florida State (ACC)
3) Ole Miss (SEC West)
4) Alabama (SEC West)
5) Auburn (SEC West)
6) Oregon (PAC 12)
7) Notre Dame (IND)
(Current AP Rankings)

These teams in the SEC West are going to devour one another. #1 Mississippi State still has games at #3 Ole Miss and #4 Bama. Ole Miss has to play #5 Auburn next Saturday, and ends the season at home against #1 Miss State. #4 Alabama still has #3 Ole Miss and #5 Auburn. #5 Auburn has yet to play #3 Ole Miss, #9 Georgia and #4 Alabama.

Did you gather all of that? There’s just no way these teams come away unscathed. At least two of the four SEC West teams will end up with two losses. Realistically, the SEC will most likely have two teams get into the the College Football Playoff, which two is a crapshoot.

Oregon’s remaining schedule on the other hand, isn’t nearly as daunting (profusely knocking on wood).

Oregon in the classic uniforms against UW.

Kevin Cline

Oregon in the classic uniforms against UW.

We take on Stanford inside Autzen next Saturday. Stanford has given us problems. The Cardinal dashed our title hopes in 2012 and they handed Oregon their first loss in 2013. But this Stanford team isn’t of the same caliber of those past Stanford teams. The ’12 and ’13 Cardinal teams played in BCS Bowl games, this Stanford team is 4-3. Stanford still boasts the nation’s top defenses, only allowing 12.3 points per game. However, they’ve struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball. This will be the year that we get over the “Stanford” hump.

Utah is currently 5-1 (though we’ll see where they are after playing USC). All of their PAC 12 games have been nail biters:  28-27 loss against Washington State, 30-28 victory over UCLA on a game-winning field goal as time expired and a 29-23 win over Oregon State in double overtime. The Utes could very well be 3-3. Oregon smashed Utah 44-21 last season and there’s no reason to believe that this year’s meeting should be any different.

Oregon has the following week off before hosting Colorado on the 22nd. Poor Colorado. The Buffaloes are the worst team in the PAC 12 and have one the worst defenses in the entire country (121st out of 124 in points allowed). The Ducks will be scoring at will long after the second and third units enter the game. It could be a record day for Oregon as far as scoring goes.

The Ducks finish up in Corvallis for the Civil War. Let’s be honest, this is always kind of a scary game. I don’t care what Oregon State’s record is coming into the Civil War; they always bring their “A” game against the Ducks. It took an 83 yard drive with under two minutes and one hell of a catch by Josh Huff to beat the Beavers 36-35 last season… and that was in Autzen. Granted, Mariota was playing on one leg at that point and our BCS dreams had already been dashed, but you catch the drift. We can’t go to sleep when we play Oregon State.

Oregon controls its own destiny and there are very few teams in the entire country that get to say that. Oregon has returned to their old good form in recent weeks, and if they can maintain it, one would believe that they should run the table and win the PAC 12 Championship. Then we’re off to the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Top Photo Credit to Kevin Cline

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