The past three years under Chip Kelly has seen unprecedented success for the Oregon Ducks. In three years, Kelly has led the Ducks to three straight conference titles and also has led them to an appearance in the Rose Bowl in 2009, an appearance in the BCS National Championship in 2010 and a win in the Rose Bowl in 2011.
When looking at the pattern, it is hard for some Duck fans to not get excited, but despite the loss of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, people are still considering the Ducks as a title contender.
If the Ducks hope to win the national championship, this is what they will need to happen.
One thing that has to happen is the Ducks have to take care of the Trojans and win the Pac-12. While beating them twice would suggest they may have go undefeated and would guarantee them a spot in the title game, the Ducks could get away with losing during the regular season and then beating them in the Pac-12 title game.
A one-loss season with a victory over USC for the conference title would be a solid resume that would make passing on the Ducks very difficult, especially after last year's title game that featured two SEC teams.
Usually, the Ducks find themselves with an overabundance of depth in the backfield, but this season feels very different. After losing LaMichael James to the NFL and Tra Carson to transfer, the Ducks are thin at the running back position.
If the Ducks hope to make a serious run at the national championship, Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas must stay healthy and show that they can carry the load.
In the first month of the season, the Ducks take on Arkansas State, Fresno State, Tennessee Tech and Arizona. During those four games, whoever is named the starter for the Ducks has plenty of time to find their rhythm and make sure that they are ready for a tough schedule come November.
Along with finding their rhythm, the quarterback that is named the starter must have a firm grasp on the read-option play. The read-option plays is instrumental to the Oregon offense, and if the QB is unable to execute on that, then the Ducks will sputter through the season and not reach the level that they hope to.
The upside and also the most questionable part of the Oregon defense is the secondary. After having some struggles in 2011, the secondary is a year older and hopefully a year wiser.
On the other hand, if the secondary is not playing up to their potential, a solid pass-rush from a player like Dion Jordan will be instrumental in the Ducks' success. If the line can cut down on how long apposing quarterbacks have in the pocket, then the secondary will not be left out on an island for that long.