Will the Ducks’ Schedule Cost Them a Shot at the Playoff?

Jon Joseph Editorials

Enemies to the right of me,

Enemies to the left of me,

Into the Valley of Jerry

Rode Mario and the Ducks.

We have met the enemy! And they are us?

How about giving Coach Mario Cristobal, his staff and the student-athletes they coach, a fair shake? Let’s review this BCS 2.0, the so-called College Football Playoff.

Half a decade down the road, until the CFP expiry date post 2025, the all-knowing, all-wise CFP Committee (aka, the Gurus of Grapevine, or the Wizards of Doctor Pepper Boz) has yet to parse a CFB season beyond following the simple mantra that “one loss is less than two.” Lose more than one game, kiss a playoff spot sayanora. Strength of schedule? Why should we have to work this hard? It’s so much easier if it’s simply one and done.

Let’s Review Some CFP Bidding to Date, Shall We?

In 2015, the season Christian McCaffery was SEC’d out of the Heisman, Pac-12 Champion Stanford lost just two games. What was the Cardinal’s reward? Nada. Nudge. Nyet. Stanford got no credit for opening on the road against top-25 ranked Northwestern. They’d have been better off blowing out UC Davis at home.

Meanwhile, one-loss Michigan State won the B1G title by beating undefeated Iowa in a hard fought B1G Championship game by a mere three points. Our vaunted Committee had Iowa ranked ahead of Stanford in its ultimate poll. Why? Iowa had one loss, the Cardinal two. Makes sense, right? Not so fast …

Christian McCaffrey carried Stanford.

The Hawkeyes and Cardinal ended up playing each other in the Rose Bowl, and from the moment McCaffery returned the opening kickoff for a TD, the result was never in question as he set the Rose Bowl record for all-purpose yards. Even if James Fennimore Cooper and his Hawkeye had been on the sideline, the Future Farmers had no chance against the nerds from down on The Farm. This was so obvious for anyone who watched the difference in athleticism that season. What were the people in Grapevine looking at? Room service menus?

Meanwhile, the Michigan State Spartans looked more like a squad of pacifist Athenians while being crushed by a tumbling Tide. When the final note of our National Anthem sounded, it was game over. Another spanking for one of Saint Nick’s pupils.

Let’s look at another example. In 2017, Penn State defeated Ohio State in the regular season. Penn State then defeated Wisconsin in the B1G Championship game. So, the Nittany Lions represent the B1G in the playoff, right?

“Not so fast,” sayeth the vaunted Committee. “Don’t be sad, but two, and not one, is bad. You get to go the Rose Bowl, Penn State, and play in a Grand Daddy classic against Sam Darnold’s USC.” Meanwhile, “The” Ohio State University was white washed, shut out, waxed, blanked, no-showed against Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers.

Saquon Barkley and Penn State missed out on the CFP in 2016.

And, for those of us keeping Playoff count, no team that played nine conference games has won a Playoff title. Coincidence? Nonsense. A coincidence is something similar that pops up once, or even twice. But five times in a row? That’s not coincidence; that’s a pattern.

Playoff Purgatory?

Coming up, the Ducks, in their own Pac-12 North Division, play two top-25 teams on the road and one at home. And should the Ducks win the North, top-25 Utah is waiting down the road. It’s not the SEC West or the B1G East, but Oregon’s path is most certainly more challenging than Clemson’s trip through the land of Krispy Kreme.

Here’s a stat that I’m sure you’ve seen before: the Pac-12 has lost its last 10 games against ranked SEC teams. But get this, none of those games were played in a Pac-12 stadium! How’s that for a fair fight?

Oregon’s no stranger to such lopsided scheduling disadvantages. The University of Georgia gave an “in your face” to a home-and-home series against Puddles. Of course, this is the same school that gave Texas no respect. The Dawgs only lost the Sugar Bowl because they didn’t care, right? Kind of like when Alabama lost to Utah and Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. It just means more down South (… unless they say it doesn’t).

Georgia stiff-armed the Ducks and forced them to travel to Atlanta in 2022.

And this just in, the SEC went 1-3 versus the defensively challenged Big 12 in 2018 bowl games, and Oklahoma put up more points on Bama than any of their vaunted SEC opponents did.

I’m calling for an end to this nonsense! It’s absolutely ridiculous to ask Coach Cristobal to take his team to Atlanta to open against Georgia in 2022 in a “neutral site” game. It’s simply insipid Playoff scheduling. It’s knelling down to a school that has a home-and-home scheduled in the future with Colorado but gave Oregon the stiff arm.

If Rob Mullens is anything more than a mouthpiece for this Playoff, if he truly wants to support his guy Coach Cristobal — a guy who is working like mad trying to improve the Ducks, if he wants to give the kids half of a chance, he’d cancel the opening “neutral site” game against Georgia in 2022. How about opening with Portland State and helping out the team?

How much longer will the Pac-12 keep sending lambs to the slaughter when all the CFP Committee cares about is wins and losses? You’d think by now, the powers that be would wise up and lighten the scheduling load. But alas, the Pac-12 foolishly continues to cater to the demands of the SEC. If the Conference of Champions doesn’t change up its scheduling soon, it will continue to be the odd man out when it comes time to punch the Final Four tickets.

Jon Joseph 
Georgetown, Texas Top Photo by Melissa Macatee


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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