Can Oregon Pull off a Shocker at the ‘Shoe?

Joshua Whitted Editorials

Oregon beating Ohio State this fall wouldn’t be David beating Goliath. Both teams will likely be ranked in the top 15 heading into the matchup, and both are the preseason favorites to win their respective conferences, after all.

But don’t get it twisted, an Oregon victory in week two would undoubtedly be a shocker.

Although the Ducks are serious playoff contenders and are more talented than ever, Ohio State is on another level. Over the past five years, the Buckeyes have recruited better than everyone not named Alabama or Georgia, assembling a roster that is one of the best in America. But as we know, recruiting isn’t everything; getting elite talent to produce is what counts. It’s safe to say that, with a 20-2 record over the past two seasons (with both of those losses coming in the Playoff), Ryan Day and his staff have done just that.

Ohio State will have another loaded squad in 2021, fielding arguably the top two receivers in the country — Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson — a pair of elite offensive tackles, and plenty of future pros on the defensive line. At quarterback, the Buckeyes lose one of their top signal callers in program history, but they’ll likely have CJ Stroud, one of the fastest risers and top quarterback prospects in the 2020 recruiting class, replacing him.

Stroud has the makings of a superstar.

In Columbus, there’s no rebuilding — just reloading. So, how does Oregon stack up?

Unfortunately, the Ducks don’t quite have the horses up front that the Buckeyes do. That is, with one notable exception: Kayvon Thibodeaux. The pass rush extraordinaire will be the best player on the field in the early season matchup, and he’ll have to be at his best to slow down what should be a potent and multi-faceted Ohio State offense. Oregon also features a talented secondary, with proven playmakers like Mykael Wright and Verone McKinley III, that could make life hard on Stroud, given it will only be his second collegiate game.

Offensively, it might be hard for the Ducks to find room to run against a fierce front seven and an Ohio State defensive scheme that is predicated on loading the box. But Oregon’s new and improved stable of long, athletic receivers could have some success against a maligned Buckeye defensive backfield.

Oregon is certainly capable of pulling off a shocker in its biggest game of the season. Ohio State isn’t an easy out to say the least, but this is a bigger, stronger and more complete Oregon team than the one the Buckeyes last saw in the Playoff a few years ago.

What do you think it will take for Mario Cristobal to get his statement win against the Buckeyes this season?

Joshua Whitted 
Morgantown, West Virginia
Top Photo by Tom Corno

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