Getting walloped by Georgia did not tell us much about this Oregon team, other than the broad diagnosis of needing to improve across the board. Walloping Eastern Washington did not tell us much about this Oregon team, other than, “OK, we do not have a Georgia hangover.” And, thankfully, unlike the 2015 game against Eastern, the Ducks did not surrender 42 points which ended up being a big “tell” for that season. But, I digress.
This Saturday against BYU should give us plenty of perspective about these 2022 Ducks.
As most readers know, BYU “won” the Pac-12 last year by going 5-0 against the conference on the way to a 10-3 record and Top 25 finish. In the final coaches’ poll of 2021, BYU and the Ducks finished right next to each other in the rankings with Oregon at No. 21 and BYU at No. 22. The point is, unlike Oregon’s first two games against Georgia and Eastern Washington, the Ducks are finally playing a peer who is in the same ballpark when it comes to ability.
BYU comes to Eugene battle-tested after winning a double overtime game against a very good, top-10 ranked Baylor team. The Ducks are going to have to bring their “A game” against the Cougars. If the Ducks avoid mindless mistakes (I’m talking to you Bo Nix), tackle well, coach well, take care of the football, and play up to their talent level, then there is a very good chance they will walk away with a victory.
On The Horizon
Of all the big Pac-12 non-conference games against Power Five opponents, the one that I counted on being a certain loss for the conference was the Washington State at Wisconsin game. Boy, was I surprised. The Cougars did not win with offense, but, believe it or not, defense. A defense that was putting pressure on the Wisconsin quarterback all game long. The Cougar offense was not sharp, and playing in Madison will do that to a team, but I believe that they will get their offense going.
So, watch out.
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We should know more about the resolve of this WSU team this weekend when they play Colorado State. The Cougars’ history of “Couging it” would have us believe that WSU is in for a letdown game after such a big win and would therefore lose to the Rams. But, perhaps new head coach Jake Dickert is a new breed of head coach for the Cougars and finds the magic cure against “Couging it.” After all, going into Camp Randall Stadium and winning a game like that against the Badgers was not “per usual” for WSU.
The Pac-12 is a better conference than it has been the past couple of years as many teams, some due to recent head coaching hirings, have improved. USC, Washington, WSU, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford all seem to be on the uptick. There should not be any cruising through the conference for any team in 2022, which makes it important for the Ducks to come out of the gate strong.
The Ducks have not started 1-3 since the 2004 season. I am not bringing this up to fearmonger, be a Debbie Downer, or get under anyone’s skin. I bring this up because, as a fan, I feel extremely vulnerable right now and have a very real fear that this could happen. The only way to alleviate this fear is for the Ducks to come out on Saturday and stick it to BYU.
There is very good talent in Eugene, but is there a good team? Stay tuned.
Top photo credit: Eugene Johnson
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in SLC, Utah.
Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
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