There is a first time for everything! Oregon will make its first ever appearance in the Bay Area for a bowl game. The Ducks (8-4) will play Michigan State (7-5) in the Redbox Bowl on Dec. 31 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
I have good news and an interesting program modification regarding Oregon in the bowl game.
Let’s start with the good news, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal expects everyone to play. At the end of conference play, the list of wounded Ducks was long, but Cristobal’s injury update on Sunday was very positive.
- Junior quarterback Justin Herbert, who left the Civil War early with a deep shoulder bruise, is healthy and ready to play vs. Michigan State.
- Senior defensive lineman Jalen Jelks, who did not play in Oregon’s final conference game, is also expected to play in the Redbox Bowl.
- Freshman offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who missed the last six games of the regular season with an ankle injury, will return for his first bowl game.
- Senior linebacker Kaulana Apelu, who missed the final three games due to injury, hopes to resume practicing once the Ducks are in California the week of the bowl, in hopes of participating in the game.
- Senior running back Tony Brooks-James, who left the Civil War with a strained knee, is in a similar situation as Apelu and it’s possible he returns for one more game as a Duck.
- Offensive lineman Steven Jones, linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia and freshman linebacker Andrew Johnson are all expected to play.
Two Ducks are questionable vs. Michigan State; Tight end Kano Dillon and cornerback Haki Woods.
The interesting program change? If any Ducks choose to sit out the Redbox Bowl, Cristobal says those players will not travel to the Bay Area. Last season, running back Royce Freeman decided to forgo the Vegas Bowl with a looming NFL Draft ahead, and was on the Oregon sidelines in Las Vegas.
“It’ll be real simple going forward,” Cristobal said. “Simple decision: either you’re playing in the game or not playing in the game. Those that are playing in the game will go to it and those that won’t, won’t.”
As of Sunday, no players have informed Cristobal that they elect to miss the game.
Oregon has requested scouting reports from the NFL advisory committee for a number of draft eligible juniors including; Herbert, wide receiver Dillon Mitchell and linebacker Troy Dye. Oregon coaches plan on helping draft-eligible prospects make an informed decision once those scouting reports are received.
Oregon will begin official bowl practices on Friday, Dec. 14. Until then, the team will be lifting, conditioning and continuing team workouts.