Oregon Ducks

The sky hasn't fallen on 2020 Oregon Ducks season, can still finish stellar

Oregon Ducks

The Oregon Ducks' defeat to unranked Oregon State (2-2) Friday evening feels like the program's worst loss in years. 

For the soon-to-drop No. 15 Oregon Ducks (3-1), the 41-38 loss showed off a shaky defense that couldn't keep the Beavers out of the end zone three times in the fourth quarter.

Oregon fans are justifiably annoyed at the poor performance and the players know that. Safety Verone McKinley III even apologized to the Ducks alumni following the defeat.

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But, let's be honest for a second. Does this really change the last two weeks of the season that much?

Yes, Oregon has close to a zero-percent chance of making the College Football Playoff, but that was a long-shot even if the Ducks finished 7-0. With just four games remaining, Oregon ranked just 15th in the country by the selection committee, six spots lower than the Associated Press. 

If the playoff was never a real possibility, what was the ceiling then? A Pac-12 Championship and a win in a NY6 Bowl Game (the Rose Bowl is a College Football Playoff Semifinal so Ducks cannot repeat as Rose Bowl Champions). 

And after an abbreviated training camp, starting the season late and losing players like first round Draft pick Penei Sewell, Rose Bowl Defensive MVP Brady Breeze, Javon Holland and Thomas Graham to opt outs, is it so surprising to see the Ducks stumble or have growing pains? 

 

They needed to be perfect to have a fighting shot and they weren't. So, here we are.

Still, after losing to Oregon State, the Ducks control their destiny to win the Pac-12 North. The Beavs may own the tie-breaker, but Oregon State has already lost two conference games. Oregon has just the lone loss.

If Oregon defeats California (0-3) in Berkeley next weekend and then Washington (2-0) at home on December 12th, the Ducks will repeat as Pac-12 North Champions. 

Perhaps rather than host the 2020 Pac-12 Championship, Oregon will travel to USC who can finish undefeated and win the Pac-12 South. So what? The Ducks flew to Los Angeles and defeated the Trojans 56-24 last season. 

If the only real downside is Oregon will no longer control its destiny to host the conference championship, then the loss to Oregon State doesn't mean too much in the grand scheme of things. 

If Oregon wins its next two games and defeats the Pac-12 South Champion, then the Ducks will earn a bid to a NY6 Bowl Game. 

Heading into the season, all Ducks fans would take that result, so why would that change after one loss?

Was the loss embarrassing? Yes. Was there plenty to be concerned about, especially the defense? Yes.

Do I expect the Ducks to rebound? Yes.

After the contest, McKinley preached accountability and the necessity for Oregon to bounce back. 

"It's just on us as a collective unit and it definitely stings but the thing is we're going to bounce back from this and come back harder than ever," said the safety. "This isn't us and we're better than this and we know we're better than this. 

"We just want to bounce back and have good practices and meetings and correct it and move on. That's all we can do is correct it and move on."

This isn't like the 2013 Oregon Ducks who loudly voiced an indifference in going to another Rose Bowl after losing to Stanford. Two weeks later, that team got blown out 42-16 at Arizona while being ranked fifth in the nation. 

Mario Cristobal and his culture of competition and excellence won't let that happen. Remember when the Ducks lost to Arizona State which ended Oregon's hopes of qualifying for the College Football Playoff last season? That team responded by winning out including wins over then-No. 5 Utah (37-15) and then-No. 8 Wisconsin (28-27). 

Why can't Cristobal coach his team up to repeat that resolve and win the next three weekends, finishing 6-1? I don't know about you, but my money is on Coach Cristobal figuring it out.

It's just in his DNA.