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Has Cincinnati and TCU Proven the Path for Oregon?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

There have not been underdog teams in the BCS/CFB Playoff very often, as the two or four team playoff has been dominated by the usual powers. Yet for two years in a row–a group of five program or a power five program who was unranked at the season’s beginning made the small four team playoff. This is considered almost impossible for most teams wanting in, yet it has been shown it can be done. I took some time from learning about NFL Betting where I then found the best NFL odds, to then consider the new CFB playoff and Oregon’s possibilities.

Do you think Oregon can make the new expanded 12-team college football playoff within a weaker Pac-12 after 2023? The answer for me is of course, but it will not be easy.

How Oregon Can Get Into the Playoffs

I believe it starts with scheduling, with playing a 7-5 G5 team in SMU as TCU did instead of scheduling Georgia. Give Oregon three warm-up games, but not as weak as the SEC likes to do. We learn soon what the Pac-12 has planned for scheduling, and moving to eight conference games is not assured since some teams are pushing back about the difficulty of scheduling and paying for non-conference opponents. Yet playing eight would certainly ease the burden of making the Pac-12 championship.

The discussion of scheduling includes the decision to stay in the Pac-12, since it would be harder to win almost all your games in the B1G or SEC. Yet both Cincinnati and TCU proved that simply winning is most important component, regardless of the perceived strength of the conference the team resides in. Go undefeated, or have one loss to a highly ranked team as TCU did to a No. 10 Kansas State in the conference championship demonstrates the validity of this concept.

Player development regressed under the prior coach, and the Ducks will need Bo Nix-like growth from all positions in order to challenge the best programs. This is an area that TCU excelled in, as their last five recruiting classes only averaged No. 39 on Rivals, which emphasizes the miracle of them making the national championship game. If Oregon can identify upside in players, recruit them and develop them as the Horned Frogs did, then the result is a team hard to keep out of the playoffs.

An obvious area is recruiting, as we just learned that Dan Lanning topped Mario Cristobal for a first recruiting class by a new HC after being at Oregon for only a year. It is evident that Coach Lanning has assembled an outstanding recruiting staff, and if he can continue to stack a number of superb classes of high school recruits and portal transfers–the Ducks could make the “elite” status step for talent.

Oregon’s scheme on offense is working well…

The scheme you employ on both sides of the ball, and the coaching precision in implementing it are big decisions that can complement the other. TCU used an unusual 3-3-5 defensive scheme to help get them in the ‘Natty, and the coaching of this same scheme is what gave Oregon fits versus Iowa State a few years ago in a bowl game as an example. Deciding on a scheme and inserting players who are built for it goes a long ways to longer term program success.

Certainly a bit of luck (Such as other teams losing) helped both the Bearcats and the Horned Frogs leap over other teams and into the playoffs in the final weeks, but the expansion to 12 teams should help relax the dependence on so many lucky breaks needed by an underdog team.

For many of us Oregon fans, making the playoffs seemed like a hopeless dream for so many years. Yet the recent events of the playoff expansion to 12 teams, the restructuring the Pac-12 and the example of the two aforementioned teams gives many of us that “light at the end of the tunnel” that did not exist before. Yes, Coach Lanning has a long ways to go in achieving his goals in the areas mentioned, but simply knowing that the ‘Natty is that much more attainable helps this ol’ greybeard-age fan retain his passion for college football.

What is your thinking on this? Share your thoughts in the only forum-with-decorum because…

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Eugene Johnson

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