Welcome to big-time college football -- and Guaranteed Slaughter Nights

Welcome to big-time college football -- and Guaranteed Slaughter Nights

Well, how do you think Oregon and Oregon State looked Saturday?

I’m asking you because I couldn’t tell. Mismatches don’t reveal much about a team and college football is in such a terrible rut when it comes to these kinds of games that I’m shocked there isn’t some sort of fan revolt. Oh, wait – fans LOVE these games when they’re on the winning side. No matter who they’re beating, they seem to take great pleasure in those 40, 50, even 60-point routs.

Anyway, I have no real idea who is good in college football – other than Clemson and Alabama, simply because they are who they are.

Do you realize that the top nine teams in the country yesterday outscored their opponents 457-118? That’s an average score of 51-13, by the way. And those games probably took in millions of dollars, not even including the TV treasure trove. Fans don’t like competitive games as much as they like blowouts in their favor. And the schedule for a lot of these teams this time of the year includes a few Guaranteed Slaughter Nights.

I guess there are a few things you can watch for in such games. They can be fun. But making judgments about a team’s worth? Hardly possible.

Still, here are my thoughts after a long day of dial-switching and DVR-draining while watching college football:

  • When will the winning coach take his starters out? For the Ducks, quarterback Justin Herbert played virtually the entire game. For the Beavers, Jake Luton was out after one series in the second half. Of course, Oregon State doesn’t have to worry about impressing voters every week. And really, the Duck win wasn’t as impressive as most people expected. UO Coach Mario Cristobal wanted to get his starters more snaps, he said. He should have scheduled Central Florida.
  • FBS teams shouldn’t be allowed to play FCS teams. Period. And no, I have no idea where those smaller-division athletic departments are going to find the money to fund their programs without these games. Aren’t there enough lousy teams for the Pac-12 to beat without scheduling teams from the Big Sky? Well, from what I’ve seen from the Pac-12 lately, maybe not. And yet the schools complain about having to play nine conference games! They ought to play 12 of them if they want to give all their schools a chance to win a few games.
  • I think Oregon is good. Actually, I think Herbert is REAL good. He’s the heart of that offense and makes it all go. The defense looks pretty good, and in the Pac-12, it doesn’t seem as if it’s going to get a real test against any offensive juggernauts. Even Washington State isn’t humming the way it has in the past. Oregon just may be the best of the lot – but I’d get Herbert encased in bubble wrap when my lead is more than 30 in the fourth quarter.
  • The Beavers did what they were supposed to do against a school named Poly Saturday. But they have a way to go. A long way, actually, But I think patience is required, just as it is at UCLA, where Chip Kelly inherited a dumpster fire. It takes years to turn these programs around. Give them time. Perhaps a lot of time. OSU was a mess when Jonathan Smith arrived.
  • Portland State stayed with Boise State longer than I thought possible on that horrid blue turf. By the way, until somebody invents grass the color of Boise State’s turf, they shouldn’t be allowed to use that stuff for games.
  • I heard all the hype about the Oregon offensive line prior to the start of the season but I don’t think the running game is where the Ducks want it to be. However, if Herbert stays as accurate as he has been, the runs will be there. Pac-12 defenses are going to have to respect the UO passing game to a degree that should make running easier.
  • Up next for Oregon and Oregon State? Stanford. Ironically, both teams will open conference play with the Cardinal. And if there was ever a season to do that, this might be it. Stanford gave up 45 points to USC and another 45 to Central Florida in the last two weeks.

Oregon's likelihood to win Pac-12 title surges

Oregon's likelihood to win Pac-12 title surges

Oregon got its first win of the 2019 football season in a big way, dominating Nevada 77-6 on Saturday. The No. 15 Ducks’ 77 points tied a program modern era record, the Autzen Stadium scoring record and paid up as three-touchdown favorites.

The Ducks are five touchdown favorites in week two. Next up, Oregon hosts Montana (2-0) in its non-conference finale. The Ducks overmatch the Grizzlies and it shows in the betting line, in which Oregon is favored by 36.5 points.

By the way, the Ducks odds are now bettable at the Chinook Winds Casino sportsbook in Lincoln City, Oregon.

The home opener blowout eased knee-jerk concerns that UO couldn’t contend in the Pac-12 Conference after losing to No. 8 Auburn.

Oregon’s scoreboard wasn’t the only interesting Pac-12 scoreboard in week two. Cal upset then-No. 14 Washington after more than two and a half hour delay because of severe weather. USC rolled to a 45-20 victory over then-No. 23 Stanford behind freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis in his first start. Utah and Washington State both dominated.

In short, the conference title is wide open.

Oregon opened 2019 with a 35.2 percent chance of winning the Pac-12 North and conference title, according to ESPN’ s football power index. Following week two, Oregon's likelihood to win the division and the title have surged to 52.4 percent. Utah is second with a 19.7 percent projection to win the conference championship game.

Oregon’s current win-loss total projection is 9.9 wins. The Ducks are projected to win in the rest of their games. The lowest win-probable game? Oregon’s game at USC on Nov. 2nd where the FPI gives the Ducks a 61.1 percent chance to beat the Trojans.

What do you think will be Oregon's toughest game?


Oregon moves up in Top 25 after dominating Nevada

Oregon moves up in Top 25 after dominating Nevada

The Oregon Ducks (1-1) moved up one spot to No. 15 to in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, after dominating Nevada 77-6 in Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. 

In the Amway Coaches Poll, the Ducks moved up a spot to No. 17.

Oregon's offense rolled to make a strong statement that dates back a decade. The win marked the 10th straight home opener that Oregon scored 50 or more points. The Ducks’ 77 points tied a program modern era record and the Autzen Stadium scoring record.

The Ducks will play three more teams ranked in the poll: road games against No. 23 Washington and No. 24 USC while hosting No. 20 Washington State.

In the Pac-12: 

Greg Thomas kicked a 17-yard field goal with eight seconds left as California beat then-No. 14 Washington, 20-19. The game ended early Sunday due to a more than 2 ½ hour delay because of severe weather.

USC freshman Kedon Slovis passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns touchdowns in his first start and the Trojans rolled to a 45-20 victory over then-No. 23 Stanford. The Trojans jumped into the top 25 at No. 24. 

Tyler Huntley led then- No. 13 Utah past Northern Illinois 35-17. The Utes moved up to No. 11. 

Washington State Cougars dominated Northern Colorado, 59-17.



Oregon’s home opener marked with momentous firsts and lasts

Instant analysis: Oregon dominates Nevada in home opener

Social media reacts: Now THAT’s Oregon football

John Neal re-joins Oregon football staff as defensive analyst

Underdog Ducks will beat Auburn: Oregon football prediction

Underdog Ducks will beat Auburn: Oregon football prediction

There are just 60 days until Oregon football kicks off the 2019 season against Auburn on August 31, 2019. The Ducks are the projected underdog, but I predict Oregon will walk out of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas as the victors.

Optimism is high for Oregon football’s 2019 season and beating the Tigers will essentially make or break the team’s College Football Playoff hopes. A win sends the Ducks and the Pac-12 Conference into national relevancy, and a loss initiates an uphill fight; no team has ever rebounded from a week one loss to make the final field of four.

It’s the first meeting between these teams since Auburn’s 22-19 win in the BCS National Championship game in 2011.

[Initiate “Michael Dyer was down!!!” screams from every Duck fan reading this]

It’s not Oregon coach Mario Cristobal’s first meeting with Auburn either. Cristobal’s record is 3-1 against Gus Malzhan's Tigers during his time as an Alabama assistant.

Let’s move on to the very polarizing week one match up and why Oregon has the upper hand.

The anticipation is palpable. Oregon is trying to make the most of Heisman hopeful quarterback Justin Herbert’s senior year and Cristobal’s second season at the top. The Ducks return a combined 17 positional starters; a veteran offensive line, running back weapons CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, an influx of new talent at receiver, projected first round draft pick linebacker Troy Dye and a few extraordinary freshman who could make instant impacts.

They will need all that experience and more when lined up against the daunting Auburn defense and possibly the best defensive line in the country highlighted by Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe.

The better team in the trenches is likely to win the game and my money would be on the Ducks, who returned all five starters on the offensive line that combine for 153 starts, with incredible size and versatility.

The battle won’t stop there. The Tigers’ defensive backs play extremely physical at the line of scrimmage, creating a challenge for Oregon’s largely unproven receiving corps.

This is where the physical play of wide receiver Juwan Johnson and tight end Cam McCormick is crucial. The largest receiver on the roster, 6-foot-4, 230-pound Johnson, must utilize his size and be a constant goal line threat. I expect 6-foot-5, 260-pound McCormick to be a large weapon for Herbert this season. McCormick excels at blocking and is physically imposing at the point of attack in the run game. In the passing game, he has great hands and is tough to take down with surprising speed.

The Tigers’ defense will be a test for the Ducks right out of the gate. However, the Auburn offense is retooling with a first-time starting quarterback between either redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood or true freshman Bo Nix. Returning its top three rushers, Auburn operates a run heavy attack, which is ideal for Oregon’s defensive line that allowed less than four yards a carry last season.

In two months, Oregon football grasps the chance to upset Auburn in prime time and become the Pac-12’s best chance for a spot in the playoff. It’s hard to count out a determined Malzahn, who has been featured on every ‘hot seat’ list in the country, and a resilient Auburn team, but the Ducks have the star power, size and experience to beat the Tigers.

All eyes on Oregon State's defense, quarterbacks at Dam City Showcase

USA Today Images

All eyes on Oregon State's defense, quarterbacks at Dam City Showcase

Oregon State fans in the Portland metro area can get their first look at 2019 Beavers football team this Saturday. 

Like previous years, Oregon State wiill host the Dam City Showcase at Mountainside High School in Beaverton. The practice will take place between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and will be open to the public. Fans will also have the opportunity to get autographs from some of their favorite players.

The Beavers are looking to build upon their 2-10 season in 2018, the team’s third last-place finish in four years. Oregon State is returning 20 of its 25 starters, including specialists. This will be the second season for coach Jonathan Smith, who played quarterback at Oregon State and led the Beavers to a No. 4 ranking during the 2000 season.

Is this the year Smith takes Oregon State to new heights? 

The quarterback race is on

Some things to keep an eye on this Saturday? Oregon State’s quarterback situation. Last season, Jake Luton and Conor Blount shared the duties, but Blount has since transferred out of the program. Luckily for the Beavers, Luton is back after petitioning for another year of eligibility and he will compete once again for the starting gig.

Some other quarterbacks to watch include junior Jack Colletto, redshirt sophomore Aidan Willard, redshirt sophomore Nick Moore, freshman Jackson Chryst and redshirt sophomore Tristan Gebbia, who performed well at OSU's spring practice at Prothro Field. Gebbia, a four-star prospect out of Calabasas High School in California, transferred to Oregon State from Nebraska last fall and recently ran the Beavers scout team. 

While it seems like Luton and Gebbia are the clear frontrunners for the starting quarterback nod, Beavs fans will get their first taste of the QB competition during Saturday’s practice.

Focus on defense

Oregon State’s defense ranked dead last in the Pac-12 last season, allowing 45.7 points per game, approximately 12 points per game worst than any other team in the conference. It will be interesting to see what strides Oregon State has made to improve its d-line from last year.

The good news is the Beavers should get some help from the incoming recruiting class, which includes three-star linebacker Omar Speights and three-star defensive lineman Evan Bennett and Jordan Whittley.

So, what's up next for Beaver football fans? The Oregon State Spring Game will be held on Saturday, April 20 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. 

Oregon's momentum surges: Ducks beat Arizona on senior night

Oregon's momentum surges: Ducks beat Arizona on senior night

Oregon’s defense kept them in the game against Arizona (17-13, 8-9 Pac-12) in a fight for Pac-12 Conference standings and momentum ahead of the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Ducks held the Wildcats to their lowest point total of the season and 31 percent shooting from the field.

Oregon (17-12, 8-8) seniors Ehab Amin and Paul White drew loud ovations from 11,339 fans in their Matthew Knight Arena finale. Both White (five points, five rebounds) and Amin (six points, two rebounds) had solid performances in the 73-47 victory.

"Coach has been telling me just to stay positive, just be ready whenever you're called," Amin said. "That's all I can control, is staying ready."

On senior night, the Ducks’ young lineup had incredible success in a game plagued with streaks. After falling behind 9-0, the Ducks blazed forward and strung together a 5:23 stretch with four freshman in the lineup (Will Richardson, Louis King, Miles Norri, Francis Okoro, plus Amin,) in a 13-0 run to get back in the game. Arizona closed the half on a 17-6 run to tie the game at 31-31.

Oregon went on a 10-0 run to start the second half and never lost the lead.

King once again led the Ducks with 14 points and seven rebounds. The freshman has now scored double-figures in 15 of 16 Pac-12 games this season.

Also notable, junior guard Payton Pritchard passed Terik Brown (1,152/1995-99) for 28th in Oregon career scoring. Pritchard scored 12 vs. ASU and currently has 1,159 career points.

Coming off a home stand victory over Arizona State, the Ducks showed fight, added to their positive momentum and halted Arizona’s four game winning streak.

By the way, Oregon football head coach Mario Cristobal was in attendance for senior night.

The victory moves Oregon into a tie for fifth in the conference and one game out of fourth place, which provides a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. Could you make a case for Oregon to get hot and win the tournament?

Crucial Civil War: What you need to know about Oregon at Oregon State

Crucial Civil War: What you need to know about Oregon at Oregon State

The 352nd edition of the Civil War is a battle for Pac-12 conference standings. Oregon is only one game out of second place and must beat Oregon State, another team fighting for a top four seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, to keep NCAA Tournament hopes alive.  The importance of a first round Pac-12 Tournament bye cannot be overstated. And with nine teams in the conference all within two games of one another, it is crunch time for both the Ducks and Beavers.

Number to know: If Oregon State defeats Oregon it will be the first time the Beavers sweep the Civil War since 2009-2010.

Records: Oregon (15-9, 6-5 Pac-12), Oregon State (15-8, 7-4)

Last time: The Beavers won the Pac-12 opener for both teams this season, 77-72, on Jan. 5 at Matthew Knight Arena, their first win in Eugene since 2012. Tres Tinkle led OSU with a solid all-around game with 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists. The wounded Ducks were down to eight scholarship players with the loss of Bol Bol (season ending injury), Abu Kigab (transfer) and Kenny Wooten (broken jaw).

High Flying Ducks

Once riddled with injuries, the Ducks fly into Corvallis as healthy as they’ve been. UO is coming off a sweep of the Bay Area schools with much thanks to its defense, which held Stanford to 27.3 percent from the field. In conference play, the Ducks are second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, a trend that must continue for Oregon to be victorious in its final seven regular season games, five of which are on the road.

Junior guard Payton Pritchard is heating up at the right time. After shooting 31.8 percent from the field in the first half of conference play, Pritchard came through for Oregon last week, improving to 15-for-29 and 7-of-13 from beyond the arc. He scored 20 points in each of those games.

Kenny Wooten (broken jaw) appears to be more comfortable wearing his face mask and continues to be the Ducks’ best rim protector. Against Stanford, he matched his career-high seven blocks to tie the fifth-best mark in UO single-game history.

Beavers to keep an eye on

In conference games, Tres Tinkle leads the Pac-12 in scoring (21.2) and is second in steals (2.1). The redshirt junior forward is only 13 points shy of 1,500 career points and has scored in double figures in 57 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Oregon State history.

At home, Stephen Thompson Jr. is a huge threat. Thompson Jr. leads OSU with an average of 23.2 points per game in the six conference home games. Keep in mind, the senior guard holds the Oregon State record with 212 career 3-pointers.

Oregon will have its hands full with junior forward Kylor Kelley, who leads the Pac-12 and is second in the nation in blocked shots per game (3.48).

When it comes to free throws, Oregon State excels. The Beavers are shooting 74 percent from the free throw line, the best percentage in program history since 1976. 6'11" senior center Gligorije Rakocevic is shooting 83.3 percent from the free throw line in Pac-12 play. Also clutch, sophomore guard Zach Reichle is 12-for-12 from the free throw line in the final five minutes of games.

How and where to watch

Time: Saturday, Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m

Where: Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Oregon

TV: Pac-12 Network

More Ducks:

Oregon’s sweep more significant than just two wins

Oregon women's basketball gain national recognition

The best invitation these four Ducks have ever received: NFL Combine


Oregon’s sweep more significant than just two wins

Oregon’s sweep more significant than just two wins

The Oregon men’s basketball program recorded its first sweep of a two-game set in Pac-12 conference play last weekend. The pair of home wins over Stanford and California improves the Ducks to a record of 15-9 overall and 6-5 in Pac-12 play, but most importantly it gives UO a chance to earn a top-four seed in the Pac-12 Tournament next month.

The Ducks’ shot to reach the NCAA Tournament likely depends on winning the Pac-12 Tournament, which provides an automatic bid to the big dance. However, CBS’ latest bracket hasn’t killed the idea of an at-large bid. Oregon’s likelihood of success in the conference tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada would improve greatly by securing one of the top four seedings.

The top four seeds automatically advance to the quarterfinal round. The other eight teams play an extra first-round game and must win four games in as many days. Since 2014, the Pac-12 tournament winner has been the one or two seed. The only team to win four games to become champion was Colorado in 2012, as a six seed.

Oregon hasn’t won a stretch of four games since December when Bol Bol was still active, and the Ducks beat the non-conference lineup of Omaha, San Diego, Boise State and Florida A&M.

Fortunately, for Oregon fans, the Pac-12 standings are a cluttered mess and the Ducks are only one game out of second place. After earning the only home sweep of the week, UO moved to a tie for fifth place with UCLA, Arizona and Stanford.

There are four weeks to go in the regular season and five of Oregon’s last seven Pac-12 games will be played on the road. Although the schedule takes a turn for the worst, UO’s roster is the healthiest it has been.

"We're going to find out how together of a team we have," Ducks coach Dana Altman said.

Next up, the Civil War in Corvallis, Ore. vs. Oregon State. The Beavers (15-8, 7-4) won the first meeting 77-72 on Jan. 5 at Matthew Knight Arena.

Are expectations too high for Mario Cristobal and 2019 Oregon football?

Are expectations too high for Mario Cristobal and 2019 Oregon football?

Oregon football finished 2018 with a 9-4 record, unranked in the AP Poll and 4th in the Pac-12 North. Yet, the hype for 2019 is outrageous.

Quarterback Justin Herbert's decision to return for his senior season has set the bar very high for next season. The Ducks have the 12th best odds in the nation to win the College Football National Title according to Las Vegas, are Athlon Sports' favorites to win the Pac-12 conference and landed at No. 12 on ESPN's way too early Top 25. 

In the video above from Talkin' Ducks, I discuss if these predictions are much too optimistic...You tell me. 

Will Oregon football win its first national title next season? Odds are...

Will Oregon football win its first national title next season? Odds are...

I’m pretty sure Clemson’s orange and purple confetti was still falling after beating Alabama in the 2018-19 National Title game when college football playoff odds for next season were released.

Naturally, Alabama(5-to-2) and Clemson (9-5) are the favorites to win the CFP national title next season, according to Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.

Do you think 2019 is Oregon’s year to contend for a Pac-12 title and trip to the playoff? If you want to put your money where your mouth is, Ducks fans, now is the time. Oregon has 30-to-1 odds to win the title, the 12th best odds in the nation.

The only other Pac-12 team given odds at SuperBook is Washington, slightly higher than Oregon, at 25-1.

Notably, Auburn’s odds to win it all are 50-1. It will be all eyes on the Ducks vs. Auburn on August 31 in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium.

If you think 2019 is shaping up to be a special year for Oregon football, you aren’t alone. ESPN ranked the Ducks at No. 12 on its 2019 Way-Too-Early Top 25 and Athlon Sports named Oregon the favorite, over Washington, to win the Pac-12 in 2019.

Oregon has not won a Pac-12 title since 2014.

However, when quarterback Justin Herbert passed on the NFL, he put UO at the top of the Pac-12 pecking order. The Ducks bring back 10 starters on offense that ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 in scoring. The running back duo of CJ Verdell and Travis Dye are just getting started, while the line, comprised for four seniors and 133 combined career starts, should be among the best in the nation.

After being rumored for a few head coaching jobs, defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt returns. The defense loses key components including safety Ugo Amadi, linebacker Justin Hollins and defensive end Jalen Jelks, but probably will retain its leading tackler, draft-eligible junior Troy Dye. After starting six sophomores in 2018, the 2019 defense could make an improvement. Not to be overlooked, the Ducks add incoming freshmen defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and linebacker Mase Funa, who could make an impact right away.

The Ducks will have to overcome one of the hardest schedules in the nation. Yes, Oregon will have two bye weeks and no back-to-back road games but the slate is tough, playing on the road against Auburn, Stanford, Washington, USC and Arizona State.

The Ducks finished 2018 with a 9-4 record and unranked in the AP Poll, but did receive votes after beating Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl, landing them at No. 33 in the nation.

Are you confident in Oregon’s 30-1 odds to win it all? Bet $100 and win $3,000, oh, and Oregon football’s first ever national title.