Oregon’s Victory Is a Win For the Alliance

David Marsh Editorials 33 Comments

Oregon’s victory over Ohio State last Saturday was not only a major win for the Oregon Ducks but also a massive win for the Alliance between the Pac-12, ACC and B1G. One of the biggest problems with the Alliance has been the lack of a premier program from the Pac-12. The B1G has Ohio State, and the ACC has Clemson, but until last week, the Pac-12 had no big time national program. Oregon was, at best, a second-rate power.

Oregon previously held the best non-conference win of any Pac-12 team — over B1G runner-up Wisconsin in the 2020 Rose Bowl — but that wasn’t a win over the premier power of the B1G, or of any other Power Five conference. The 2020 Rose Bowl victory was good stepping stone for Oregon but simply not good enough to raise Oregon’s or the Pac-12’s statuses nationally.

Everything changed with Oregon’s win over Ohio State. Oregon took out the super power of the B1G, and they didn’t just scrape by. They showed they were better than Ohio State. This Oregon team proved they were Ohio State’s equal and, moreover, that the top of the Pac-12 was the equal to the B1G and the ACC. The Pac-12 may finally have its super team.

Tom Corno

Noah Sewell and the Oregon Ducks defense stifled Ohio State’s run game.

Outside of Oregon, and perhaps UCLA, the Pac-12 doesn’t look good. Currently, the Pac-12 is 10-10 against non-conference opponents, and many of those opponents have been FCS programs, which makes that winning percentage even more underwhelming. Washington actually lost to an FCS school in Week 1.

However, the Pac-12 doesn’t have to be good top-to-bottom (and frankly, the Pac-12 looks pretty weak on the whole so far this year). The ACC has not been a strong football conference overall, either, but Clemson alone has kept the conference relevant.

Long Term Plans

The Oregon-Ohio State showdown put on full display what this Alliance will be able to produce with priority scheduling. It wasn’t the only Pac-12-B1G cross-conference game on Saturday, as Michigan and Washington squared off in prime-time. That game ended with Michigan soundly defeating Washington in a game that looked like it should have been played in the 1980’s.

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff was even seen in a private box with B1G Commissioner Kevin Warren during the Oregon-Ohio State Game. Following Oregon’s victory, Kliavkoff took the relatively short trip to Michigan to be present for the Michigan-Washington game, using it as an opportunity to showcase the Alliance he had played a key role in creating.

In terms of television ratings, the Alliance scored a huge win. Oregon at Ohio State captured the top spot in Week 2, with 7.7 million viewers. In second place was Washington at Michigan at 4.7 million, and coming in third was Colorado and Texas A&M with 4.5 million viewers. This was followed by a big drop off in viewers. This puts three Pac-12 teams and two B1G teams in the top three spots for Week 2.

If this trend continues, the Alliance will be in a strong position to negotiate better terms for all three conferences when the time comes for new contracts. Kliavkoff has also inferred that the long term plan for the Alliance is to sprinkle these cross-conference games throughout the season. If done correctly, this could create interesting match-ups that attract prime time viewing all season long.

Furthermore, if these games are planned just before the season begins, it could create even more interesting match-ups between equally talented teams and foster new rivalries. This would be a major deviation from how schedules are currently created — years, if not decades, in advance, with no way of knowing how good the competing teams may be.

The Alliance and Playoff Expansion

On-field success will increase the clout and influence the Alliance will have on future policy decisions in the NCAA. Currently, the Alliance formed as a voting block to counter the ever-growing super power of the SEC. However, there is a chance that if the Alliance is able to field more combined influence than the SEC, it could be the Alliance, rather than the SEC, that dictates what the Playoff expansion looks like and how to distribute those media rights.

Tom Corno

Bradyn Swinson sacks CJ Stroud in the 4th quarter in the best game on TV in Week 2.

This Alliance could change the formula for getting into the College Football Playoff if given the opportunity. Currently, the only feasible way of getting into the Playoff is to schedule the easiest out-of-conference opponents to ensure, at worst, a one-loss season. This has at least been the formula for the SEC and Big-12. Clemson has had the benefit of playing in an overall weak conference, especially given Florida State’s and Miami’s declines.

Big games that bring in big audiences are just the first step in building the Alliance into a power of change within college football. The Alliance has a broader outlook than just football, but every commissioner knows that football is the driving force that makes other college sports financially possible. For the Alliance to meet their goals, the Pac-12, the B1G and the ACC all have to field premier football teams. Right now, Oregon is that team in the Pac-12.

To date, there hasn’t been a single game scheduled by the Alliance. All these cross-conference match-ups were planned long in advance, but that shouldn’t stop Kliavkoff from promoting just what this Alliance could do in the future. Just think of the possibility of Clemson at Autzen or Oregon at Happy Valley? Would Oregon win? Maybe, but wouldn’t it be fun to find out?

David Marsh 
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo By Tom Corno

Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Comments Below are CLOSED, as we are moving to the OUR BELOVED DUCKS Forum!

Comments below articles are now closed as we have moved all conversation over to the free Our Beloved Ducks Forum. It has been a big success already with many more posts than what we could fit into the comments below articles.

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there.  At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.

Be a part of the forum and stay caught up!  When you wish to post there, do know that you are protected just as you were on FishDuck. Join us on the free forum right here!

Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) keep it clean, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

OBD Forum members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Stay Tuned, my Friends

A really BIG FishDuck announcement coming soon…within days.


SCORE PREDICTION: Oregon 45, Stoneybrook 16


“The Alliance”… it sounds like some kind of deep state entity that controls every faction of our lives.

What it really does is form a union of ‘other’ conferences to take on the power of the SEC.

So yes, every conference is judged by the awesomeness of its top team. After last week, the pac12 has a real team.

And the UCLA/LSU game was the second win for the Alliance.

The secondary conferences (all those not names SEC) need to play meaningful games during the first three weeks of the season.

The more buzz that the other conferences get, the less likely chance that fans will tolerate 2, 3, or even 4 SEC teams making the playoffs, and leaving everyone else out.

Boy…I don’t know if I want the equivalent of bowl games in September. Oregon won this one, but many of these (like Auburn of 2019) have not gone our way.

But I am really going to soak up and savor this while I can–so much fun. And thanks David for helping us ponder so many implications of the Alliance.

LOS_Oregon Football Twitter.jpg

I like these games, even if we lose…

What I don’t like is when Oregon gets pummeled at the line of scrimmage – like what happened vs LSU in 2011.

The Tennessee game and the Mich St game were great games to watch.

Auburn in 2019 was also a very exciting game, but the Ducks just could not put it away on defense.

And my favorite game of all time is still Oklahoma in 2006. This Ohio St game last week is number 2 on my list.

These games are like playoff games that we get to see even if we don’t make the playoffs.

I’ll bet the top recruits love these kind of games as well. You just know that Noah Sewell was having the time of his life out there.


If the alliance really wants to balance the power of college football, and the influence of ESPN, it should establish its own “championship playoff” with alliance representatives and worthy Group of Five representatives, and exclude the power-grabbing, money-grabbing SEC. That would leave the SEC declaring its conference champion as the national champion. Won’t fly. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up to them. Someone would, of course, have to work out the details.


Spot on. Couldn’t agree more with “The only way to stop a bully is to stand up to them.”

Now is the time to do so.


Another good article on “Raw numbers don’t tell the whole story of Oregon Ducks pass defense early in 2021” https://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/2021/09/raw-numbers-dont-tell-the-whole-story-of-oregon-ducks-pass-defense-early-in-2021.html


Great podcast from Andrew Nemec. It seems USC’s number one choice is MC to be the new head coach. I believe the kind of person MC is he is not leaving Oregon, but Oregon needs to do everything they possibly can to keep MC and staff!

Link to Andrew’s podcast if you haven’t listen to it. He is expecting quite an uptick in recruits in 2023.



Great article Mr. Marsh.
I like the idea of the alliance having the most influence in changes to playoffs etc.
It makes the most sense too.

I am feeling a bit whiplashed, as if I was sitting net high center court at the US Open!
Earlier this year, the talk was we should be 11-1, 10-2 at the worst, or Cristobal had failed. Then after FS it was we had little chance to win at tOSU. Then on the Friday before the game I was surprised to see so many picks for a Duck victory. Now, after a solid win, where we controlled the line of scrimmage, ran what we wanted on offense, and did all that on the road, without the best pass rusher in the country, I’m seeing hesitancy and doubt as to whether this team is for real!?

Whether we win out or not, Oregon has shown clearly that they can play at the top level with the best. Before the game, I said that was all I wanted to see, how do we stack up against a yearly national title contender. And now we know!

It’s hard not to be overly excited. This win was so great, and we didn’t even play our best game!
KT didn’t play.
Brown was only 50% passing.
The D gave up the easiest td ever looking at their wristbands.
We gave up way too many passing yards.
We didn’t get a pass rush until late.
We should have scored before the end of 1st half (horrible holding call, pac12 refs still suck)
In other words, the best is still to come.

I’m anticipating another top 10 recruiting class in 2022, and another for ’23.
I see young master Thompson developing into a true Heisman contender with a 5☆ running back beside him.
I see our defense being stout and national leaders in multiple categories.
All because the foundation is being laid now. MC calls it the “process”.
Whatever it is, it seems to be developing solid ballers at every position and to great depth.

I expect we drop a game here or there, and I expect I’ll be disappointed. But it’s clear to me now that this team is the real deal. We ain’t “‘bama” yet, but we’re headed there.
Winning every game, even if you’re favored,is tough for any team, any sport, any league. So many factors involved. But that win, in that stadium, with that crowd, on national TV, shows the Ducks are for real baby!
Let the good times roll! Go Ducks!!


I imagine the Ducks will be favored in every game going forward but there is still a lot of football to be played.
That Stanford beat down of usc shows anything can happen. And in the Pac12 anything usually does!
The path forward should be fun to watch. We can’t take anyone for granted.


why sell ourselves short—15-0


If Moorhead and Deruter are really good at their jobs, Oregon shouldn’t drop games to lesser teams.

Stanford and UCLA look tough this year, but nobody else is up to that level.

Winning out is possible, but its not a lock.


I agree that if Oregon stumbles the advantage gained by the tOSU win is diminished, But, if Oregon had lost it would have been an awful, boring, depressing long Saturday to get through. The narrative of Oregon, the Pac-12, the Alliance would have played out as usual.

Instead, the Ducks won, and the Ducks didn’t finesse their way to the win, they beat the Buckeyes up, with their 2 best defensive players on the sideline. This is what the narrative is now. Oregon looked like Ohio State coming off the bus and controlled the LOS.

J Duck

I like the idea of dropping to 8 conference games, and sprinkling a PAC<–>B1G game, and/or maybe PAC<–>ACC, while the B1G and ACC do the same…throughout the season, maybe weeks 2 thru mid-November. Everyone gets a Power 5 non-conference game, well, 2 actually, against both B1G and ACC. That would have to be worked out since we have 12 teams and they have 14 each I believe. Need more coffee to research that and think how the schedule format would go.

That would leave a non-conference slot to schedule a patsy (hey, giving Portland State the payoff is sort of a noble thing to do for their athletic dept. budget) in week 1 to warm up, and then later, a group of 5 match up. That leaves Stanford and USuC that slot, wherever over the fall season, to schedule their loss to Notre Dumb, or other schools with a traditional rivalry such as UT-BYU.

With these current non-conference matchups scheduled 10 years out, there might be some issues to hammer out, maybe just payoff Texas Tech for cancelling on them to schedule Michigan or Penn St, or Purdon’t. How would those shifts impact the budget for WSU or Cal? Oregon probably has the Nike pocketbook to help, USuC has the strong alumni base (same ones paying Reggie Bush and who knows who else, although that’s probably “ok” now?)

Or…the current playoff formula is to schedule 4 patsies and 8 conference games. Seems to be working for the SEC.


I like the idea of 3 patsies, 1 Pac12/Big10/ACC game, and 8 conference games. Still 1 ups the SEC’s schedules.


I know I am getting ahead of how the season is going to play out, but I worry about winning a big game too early.

For now we have a big bullseye on our backs for the rest of the season. Win against Oregon and you have instant legitimacy. Oregon goes into every game with something to lose and little to gain unless it is a blowout.

This scenario creates the ultimate test for Cristobal. Can he win against teams beneath our talent level, even when they are playing like it is the biggest game of their season, each week.

At the end of the season, if we make the playoffs, it could become a return the favor game for tosu.

I love the big win against tosu, but the unintended consequence will be an even more difficult season ahead.

We may have an alliance, but it is in everyone best interest going forward to beat Oregon. Nobody will be aligned with our best interests.


Ahh, the old “be careful what you wish for” curse?

To that I say fiddlesticks and poppycock!

Mario is going to use the win as an example of what happens when you practice with focus and intensity and the players are all going to buy in.

This win has validated everything that Cristobal has been preaching and will further galvanize the team to push themselves and each other beyond what they even thought possible!

Then again, I just looked at our away schedule, and damn, you’re right.

Stanford, UCLA, washington, and Utah are all on the road, and they are all going to be gunning for us and looking forward to dashing our hopes at a playoff.

Then again, again, if we happen to make it through our schedule undefeated, we will be hardened warriors, with a thirst that can only be quenched by blood.

Blue blood.


Love it, more blue blood is definitely what this team needs and maybe a little purple on the way!


Because I’m old and – at least theoretically – have learned something, I would say that Oregon needs to win some more games before we start to envisage a new era of college football. One game at a time, please.


I hate to get the cart before the horse, but I’ve been fooled too many times for thinking to far ahead. The Ducks win last Sat was huge for the Ducks and the rest of the P12 + alliance. But it will only be huge if the Ducks don’t lose to a team they shouldn’t lose to or tosu loses 2 or more games.

I’m not too worried about the P12 being a 2 team conference. Oregon went to the BCS tourney when they were the only marque team in the P12. USC was in the dumpster and the Oregon was racking up a big run of W’s over UW. Like Clemson we only need to win games to be relevant.


Good stuff David. There could not have been a better showcase for the alliance than last Saturday’s beat down in Columbus……and it was accomplished without Thibs and Flowe!

But the marquis win over Ohio State was more than just a somewhat surprising victory.

Let’s not forget than it was accomplished at The Shoe, in front of 100,000+ red clad screaming Ohioans. That adds even more luster and may be a deciding factor come playoff time…..providing the Ducks don’t stumble. It may even allow the Ducks to sneak in with one loss, providing Ohio State cuts its normal swath through the Big Ten. Even if Ohio State wins out the rest of the way, and the Ducks lose a game, Oregon still has the edge.


You bring up some excellent points David! The Rebel Alliance could indeed change the game and knock the Evil Empire back to reality!

It is going to be interesting to watch how the Alliance manifests itself in scheduling games in real time instead of years or decades ahead of time. Scheduling out not as far should make for primo matchups. If the Alliance goes to 8 conference games like the SUC (sec, pardon my slip) the will give us 4 non conference game each year, and hopefully way less FCS games each year.


I share the optimism with you on Oregon being the elite team out west, but I sure do hope we aren’t counting our eggs before they’re in the basket. We still don’t really know what we have in Oregon and Ohio State, outside of their play with each other, against great teams.

Fresno State looks to be pretty good this year, but they are far from elite. Minnesota was looking good, but they lost their best player. We will soon find out as the season progresses, but one thing’s for sure – Oregon needs to blow away their opponents, and needs Ohio State to follow suit. That will greatly reinforce their statuses as elite, and strengthen Oregon’s win.

As for the alliance, it’s sounding better and better with each new detail. Inter-alliance play during the season sounds pretty exciting! Although, there could be some pitfalls that come with that. If, for example, Oregon has a big game in conference, but has to travel to ACC territory the week before, that could be a strain on the team.

Perhaps they could schedule a bye week after those games, or some other form of mitigation. Or perhaps teams will just have to suck it up? Either way, the alliance seems like nothing but good stuff.

Now, go out there and win ’em all Duckies!


Tosu played the first game early to give them time to be ready for a big non conference game. Although they weren’t traveling this might be a good way to mitigate the travel, if it is the second game of the season.

Oregon scheduled an easy game, much like the SEC does after a big game. There are many ways to make a schedule easier, the SEC seems to have it down.

Even a midseason big game is followed by an easy nonconference opponent when you are in the SEC. Alabama plays New Mexico State after playing LSU midseason.