No. 24 Oregon will obliterate UC Davis on Saturday. If not, cancel the season right now.
So why should anyone watch? Well, let's countdown the top five reasons why watching the Ducks when the game kicks off at 2 p.m. won't be a waste of time.
No. 5 - Don't remember the Alamo: It's opening day, and the last time fans saw the Ducks, well, they were imploding in Texas during the Alamo Bowl. What better way to help erase that horrific memory than watching Oregon look like Oregon again? The opening game for the Ducks is rarely ever about competition. It's usually more about simply celebrating the return of another season. In this case, it's also about finally starting the process of moving forward after one of the worst losses in program history.
No. 4 - The new front seven under defensive coordinator Brady Hoke: We've heard so much about this attacking 4-3 scheme Oregon has installed and now it's time to see it in action. The Aggies, who averaged 22 points per game last season, shouldn't offer much of a challenge but that only means we should see at least 12 tackles for loss with about six sacks. Exotic blitzes, frenzied speed, mass confusion, quarterbacks fearing their safety, running backs faking injuries to exit the game. Let's see if the Ducks can strike fear in the hearts of a vastly inferior team. Oregon has six new starters in the front seven including athletic freshman linebacker Troy Dye and maybe the next Dion Jordan in redshirt sophomore defensive end Justin Hollins. Plus, Oregon supposedly upgraded at the middle linebacker spot with tansfer A.J. Hotchkins. Finally, they will be turned loose.
No. 3 - The UO debut of quarterback Dakota Prukop: The senior transfer from Montana State gets his first taste of Autzen. The savior. The next Vernon Adams Jr. The link between the Ducks and possible contention. Prukop has a chance to live up to all of those things if the dual-threat marvel out of the Big Sky Conference can adapt to the Pac-12. In 2014 he lit up the Aggies to the tune of 509 yards of total offense and six touchdowns. He could do the same on Saturday. What would it prove? Not much. However, he had a mediocre spring game and it would be nice to see if he can demonstrate some consistency within the offense that could pay off down the line in much bigger contests.
No. 2 - The defensive backs: Has there ever been a more maligned group of Oregon players in recent history? Probably not. They contributed heavily to the team ranking 116th in the nation last season while allowing 35 touchdown passes. All of the key players are back and they determined to make amends, and to prove that they learned from the extreme growing pains experienced last season. Again, UC Davis' offense is not a great measuring stick. But this is a secondary who looked bad last season against Georgia State. Watching them demonstrate some improved ability to play lockdown coverage and tackle consistently would be a good first step.
No. 1 - Justin freaking Herbert: Oh yes. Getting a chance to watch the true freshman quarterback in action will be worth the time spent watching this game simply because of the mystery surrounding the 6-foot-6 kid out of Sheldon High School. His performances in practice have had the entire team buzzing about his potential. It took him three weeks to vanquish redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen and true freshman Terry Wilson Jr., who arrived last spring. Now we will get to see Herbert in action once Prukop's work is done in a sure blowout. Figure late third quarter. All signs point to Herbert being a three-year starter after this season, and it is very likely he could see a start or two this season should Prukop go down. On Saturday fans get a sneak peak at the future of Oregon's quarterback position.
A quick look at the game:
No. 24 Oregon vs. UC Davis.
When: 2 p.m., Saturday, Autzen Stadium.
T.V.: Pac-12 Network.
Betting line: Off
Records: Oregon went 9-4 last season while the Aggies went 2-9.
Coaches: Oregon's Mark Helfrich (33-8); UC Davis' Ron Gould, former Oregon defensive back, (9-25).
Last season: The Aggies went 2-9 for the second consecutive season to finish tied for 8th in the Big Sky Conference.
Aggies impact players: Oregon should only concern itself with senior running back Manusamoa Luuga. Last season he rushed for 613 yards and had seven total touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Ben Scott when healthy is sold. Last season he passed for 1,598 yards and 11 touchdowns with seven interceptions over eight games.
Fear factor (five-point scale): Zero.
Prediction: Oregon, 66-13.