Two weeks from today the Oregon Ducks should be preparing to enter Pac-12 play at Arizona State on Sept. 23 with a 3-0 record.
Oregon (1-0) hosts Nebraska (1-0) at 1:30 p.m. today before traveling to Wyoming (0-1) next week. Both the Cornhuskers and the Cowboys should have trouble standing up to Oregon's firepower, which will overcome any mysteries that still surround the Ducks' defense.
Nebraska struggled to handle Arkansas State, 43-36, last week at home, while Wyoming, once thought to have a high-powered offense, got trounced, 24-3 at Iowa.
Nebraska coach Mike Riley will be looking for his first win at Autzen since 2007 and that one only came about because UO quarterback Dennis Dixon was lost for the season with a knee injury. Riley told reporters Thursday that he expects his team to be able to handle the noise generated by fans in Autzen.
"I really, really hope that we're ready because I've seen teams in that stadium not function for the first quarter," Riley said. "You can see it on film when you're watching the video. I feel confident in the preparation that we've had."
Riley mostly lost past games at Autzen because he simply had inferior teams. He has a much stronger team now than he had during most of his tenure at Oregon State. But his roster shouldn't be enough to defeat this Ducks' team, which is going to be an offensive force all season long.
"Defensively we have to stop the run, or control it, as best we can," Riley said.
Good luck with that.
We will all have a much greater idea of what Oregon is all about after today. We saw glimpses of a very good team during last week's 77-21 win over Southern Utah. But such performances against FCS programs can be deceiving.
While a win over Nebraska wouldn't signal that the Ducks are Pac-12 contenders, a victory would at least give reason to beleive that Oregon is capable of an eight-win season. And after UO went 4-8 last year, doubling up the win total would be a huge step in the right direction under new coach Willie Taggart.
Oregon vs. Nebraska
When: 1:30 p.m., today, Autzen Stadium.
Betting line: 14.
2016 records: Oregon (1-0, 4-8 last season), Nebraska (1-0, 9-4 last season).
Coaches: Ducks' Willie Taggart (41-45, 1-0 at Oregon); Cornhuskers' Mike Riley (109-91, 9-8 at Nebraska).
Cornhuskers' impact players: Nebraska junior quarterback Tanner Lee is a far better passer than last year's quarterback, Tommy Armstrong Jr., but not nearly as good of a runner. Lee completed 19 of 32 passes against Arkansas State for 238 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cornhuskers remain mostly about the running game. Nebraska rushed for 225 yards against Arkansas State with sophomore Tre Bryant going for 192 and a touchdown on 31 carries.
Fear factor (five-point scale): 3.5 (downgraded from a 4 earlier this week). There's no reason to believe that Nebraska has any shot at slowing down Oregon's offense.
Final pick: Oregon, 44-34.