Opening weekend, finally, for our area’s college football teams and I’m happy about that – primarily because stories from “fall camp” (even when it’s nowhere close to fall) are usually just a combination of hopeful hype and injury reports with little real news. I know, because I used to write those stories. Anyway, just a few random thoughts about the Ducks, Beavers and Vikings leading into Week 1:
- Yes, I know bowl games are different than regular season games and not necessarily an indication of what’s to come for a team in the following season. But when I think about the Ducks and the upcoming year, it’s pretty hard for me to get the Redbox Bowl out of my mind. And I also understand that if you’re an Oregon football fan, you probably flushed that game out of your memory bank the day after that debacle. Certainly, pollsters don’t remember it, or I don’t think they’d be voting the Ducks as high as 11th in the AP preseason poll. But seriously, UO rushed for 37 yards on 27 carries and had only 11 first downs. Oregon won 7-6 against Michigan State. I saw that game as a summary of the season on offense for the Ducks. They underachieved with the ball, especially considering they had a quarterback who was touted as a Heisman candidate at the start of the season. I would hope they would make better use of Justin Herbert this year.
- Oregon State has a long way to go from where it was last season just to become a respectable college football team. I am optimistic that Jonathan Smith can engineer a turnaround, but I don’t expect it to happen overnight. Can the Beavers upset Oklahoma State Friday night? I doubt it, but I also think they have their best chance to win early in the season, before the inevitable injuries start to pile up. Depth is going to be a problem, as it always is, for schools trying to make the climb from the bottom to even the middle of Power-5 conferences. It’s hard for them to recruit enough quality starters, let alone bench players, at this point of their development.
- The prime funding mechanism for some FCS football programs has become sending their teams on Missions Almost Impossible to FBS schools, scooping up six-figure guarantees in exchange for playing the role of patsy for those higher-level teams. Meet Portland State football. The Vikings this year open their season at Arkansas and then also play on the road at Boise State. For Viking players, the only good thing about a game at Arkansas is they don’t have to undergo a long bus ride. I assume they will fly, as opposed to those long motor coach rides to other away games during the season. I realize that a few years ago PSU traveled to Pullman and upset Washington State. Stuff happens. But for me, there is something unseemly about a system that requires players to take a beating from more powerful schools, just for a paycheck they don’t get to share. But good luck, Vikings, stay healthy and remember, the Razorbacks went 2-10 last season, including a home loss to North Texas.