Tomorrow, our Oregon Ducks football program will host the Huskies in Autzen for the fan-favorite rivalry game. However, this season’s a bit different. With a big win against the Huskies tomorrow, the Ducks would be in a prime position to take down Utah and have a chance to elevate to the top four teams in the nation.
At this point in the season, every game can make all the difference. Especially when the Huskies want to play spoiler. Ranking sixth today, winning out poses an opportunity for the Ducks to be in legitimate College Football Playoff consideration.
For that to happen, here are a few points of emphasis for winning tomorrow, as well as what they mean about Oregon’s consideration as a playoff team.
Résumé Points Oregon Needs for College Football Playoff Consideration vs. the Huskies
Continued Dominance on the Offensive Line
The offensive line has given Bo Nix a run for his money as the bright spot of the season. Never would we have expected this kind of success in the spring.
Against the Huskies, this group should continue to dominate. They haven’t had a bad game all season, and won’t start in a home rivalry game. Let’s see a big-time performance from the offensive line on the ground, and another day with a clean jersey for Nix.
Outstanding Defensive Line Play
Behind the front seven, the Ducks’ DBs have played excellent football all season. Particularly, the cornerbacks. It’s clear today the Ducks have some NFL talent at the position, and this group should be able to compete with any receiving core in the country.
In front of them, they’ve created a ton of second-guessing quarterback play for the defensive line to thrive on. Brandon Dorlus and co. really are starting to step up and even create turnovers. If they continue to play complementary football against the Huskies, there’s little doubt that this defense will be capable of competing in the College Football Playoff.
Absurd Offensive Efficiency
The efficiency of this team is unrivaled right now in the PAC. Five running backs are averaging over five yards per carry (not including Nix’s rushing efforts, who averages almost seven yards per carry). On the other side of that, our tight end room has accounted for ten receiving touchdowns this season. The sheer balance of the Oregon offense alone demonstrates that with home-run hitters in the backfield and legitimate red zone threats on the inside, Nix can facilitate matchup nightmares with ease.
Now, top it off with Troy Franklin emerging on the outside? Good grief, Charlie Brown. I can’t imagine what this team would look like with another weapon or two emerging before the end of the season. Say the Ducks start getting a spark from Kris Hutson or Dont’e Thornton, and this offense will become limitless at just the right time.
Trend of Dismantling Ranked Opponents
Ranked opponents are going to be the key to playoff contention for the rest of the year. With the Huskies coming to town as a top-25 team, another ranked win would be huge for Oregon’s résumé. However, it’s still going to be really tough to overcome that opening-week loss to Georgia. It left a bad taste in the entire country’s mouth over how Oregon can compete against the best of the best.
Luckily, the Ducks have won eight straight since. Take the rest of the season into account, and Oregon’s built an elite résumé against every ranked team they’ve played. UCLA looked helpless on defense. BYU got run off the field in Autzen. Continue this trend of dominating good teams against the Huskies, and the voters can’t help but love these Ducks as much as we do.
Biggest Remaining Question on Offense: Can the Ducks Win a Close One Through the Air?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve LOVED everything I’ve seen from Nix this season. He’s blossomed into a pro-caliber player right before our eyes, and even might get some Heisman votes.
However… I unfortunately have reservations about how this team would respond to the offense struggling against a ranked opponent.
A fourth-and-four wheel route touchdown to ice the game against the Bruins was a great demonstration of being able to remain aggressive when we need to be. The thing is, Nix had already put up 38 points, and still held a 15-point lead. It was the Ducks’ game to lose. I want to see what this team looks like when the chips are down at least one more time before a playoff game.
For example: say the Ducks enter the second half of this game against the Huskies down 14-3. How are Nix and Kenny Dillingham going to respond?
That’s almost a task I’d ask for against the Huskies. Just to see the mettle I know this team has, and prove it against a rival on our home turf. Then, I’d feel a lot more comfortable taking this show on the road against a top team in the country.
Bottom Line: What a TIME to be a Duck Fan!
Overall, it’s games like these where our Oregon Ducks football program can flex their prowess on a long-standing rival. Especially on offense, expect to see a much cleaner outing than last week against Colorado, in a game where the Ducks somehow scored 49 points(!!!) playing some sloppy football in the first half.
But enough from me, Oregon fans. What do you think? How much impact does this game have on the Ducks’ chances at a College Football Playoff appearance? Can Nix win a close game against a ranked opponent with his arm? If you had to bet on it, who’s the final puzzle piece in this offense that needs to step up (if any)? Let us know in the FishDuck forum with decorum.
Los Angeles, California
Top Photo By: Craig Strobeck
Alex Heining is an Oregon alumni from the graduate class of 2021. After studying sports business and media studies, he has moved into the field of digital marketing as a copywriter and content manager in the Los Angeles area. Still, he loves his Ducks and goes to local high school games all over the Los Angeles and Orange County area to check out new recruits of the future (and a SoFi game or two with the pros). On any given Saturday, expect to find him doing martial arts, playing the guitar, or screaming at the tv over a missed holding penalty.
FishDuck Going to Articles on Monday and Tuesday Only…
Our off-season schedule begins, and we move from publishing articles seven days a week to Mondays and Tuesdays only. Same great group of writers, and we will have an article on other days on occasion.
The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) 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.
Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!
OBD Forum members….we got your back. No Trolls Allowed!