LSU, Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama are currently the four best programs in college football. They are the elite, and the Ducks would love nothing more than to crash that party. A solid victory over No. 8 Wisconsin could serve as a solid “best of the rest” steppingstone in Oregon’s quest to join them.
Five Thoughts on the Eve of the Rose Bowl
1) The Arroyo Factor: Considering he has absolutely nothing to lose, let’s hope that Marcus Arroyo will just cut it loose, as in pulling out all the stops, coaching as if there is no tomorrow and throwing in every unused wrinkle and trick-play — plus the kitchen sink. He really is playing with house money, and with a quarterback playing in his last game, let him run wild.
2) “Just(in) Do It!” Herbert: What a storybook ending this could be for the Eugene native. As one who grew up in Eugene with childhood dreams of playing for the Ducks, I’m damn jealous. To take over during a miserable 2016 season, be a four-year starter on a rebuilding program and then win the Rose Bowl — it would be a dream come true.
I can already hear those who may think that Herbert might play it close to vest as to not risk hurting his draft stock. I don’t believe that. He’s an Oregon man through and through and surely, he wants to go out with a bang.
I believe “Just Do It!” will be his call of the day.
3) Trench Warfare: One of the attributes of elite programs is producing household names who are not offensive skill players, such as Ohio State’s Chase Young. Penei Sewell has a grand opportunity to get his 2020 Heisman hype rolling by having a pancake party against Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Kayvon Thibodeaux could break onto the national scene by wreaking havoc in the Badgers’ backfield.
The Ducks have a golden opportunity to produce two household names from the trenches.
4) “Oregon is the New USC”: I mean, hey, if USC legend Matt Leinart said it, it must be true. Right? At the expense of the Pac-12 Conference, USC did Oregon a tremendous favor by retaining Clay Helton, and there’s no doubt Mario Cristobal and his coaching staff have been on a recruiting terror during their time in SoCal.
It only helps the Ducks in their goal of becoming “Clemson West.” For perspective, when Clemson entered into elite status in 2015, their average recruiting ranking in the four years (2011-2015, per Rivals.com) leading up to that season was 11.25. From 2016-2020, the Ducks have a very similar average of 12.
Will the Ducks pull a Clemson and break through in 2020?
5) Cristobal is on the Right Path: Emphasizing the trenches, getting physical and grinding down opponents has proven to be a success for Cristobal. Top it off with a Rose Bowl championship, and the Ducks may well be the best of the rest, and on the doorstep of elite.
The Ducks are currently in that top-10, “second-tier” level with the likes of Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Michigan, Penn St., Auburn and Georgia. Cristobal continues to evolve (See LSU’s Coach Ed Orgeron), and his way can have Oregon playing for national championships.
Clearly, Oregon’s 2020 New Year’s resolution of entering the elite is within its grasp.
Spokane, WashingtonTop Photo by Craig Strobeck
Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon and is from Sterling, Illinois.
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