Oregon Football: 5 Final Predictions for the Ducks' 2012 Season

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent ISeptember 1, 2012

Oregon Football: 5 Final Predictions for the Ducks' 2012 Season

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    After months and months of waiting, Oregon Ducks fans will be filing into Autzen Stadium ready to cheer on the Ducks to a win over Arkansas State. The last time fans saw the Ducks they were earning a Rose Bowl victory, but Saturday starts a new year.

    With the start of a new year, the Ducks say goodbye to LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, and say hello to Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner. While the Ducks may be in transition, they certainly are not lacking talent.

    Before the ball is kicked off Saturday night at Autzen, here are five predictions for the Ducks' 2012 season.


    Joe Penkala is a B/R National Featured Columnist who covers college football. You can contact him on Twitter.

De'Anthony Thomas Is a Heisman Finalist

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    With the departure of LaMichael James, the role that De'Anthony Thomas will play on the Ducks will increase dramatically. Thomas will still be used in the return game, passing attack and running game, but he will see more touches.

    Throughout the year, Thomas will continue to rack up all-purpose yards and touchdowns. In the end, Thomas may not win the Heisman Trophy, but he will end up in New York for the ceremony. 

Dion Jordan Projects as a 1st-Round Pick

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    While the Oregon offense is used to receiving all the press clippings, the Ducks defense looks to be stronger than ever this year.

    Coming off the end is Dion Jordan, and he is coming off a strong season. This year, Jordan looks to be a force in both the Pac-12 and the nation, as his speed allows him to get off the corner quickly. 

    After a strong 2012 season, look for Jordan to project as a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

Marcus Mariota Starts Every Game

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    Last week Chip Kelly made the choice to go with Marcus Mariota at quarterback. Mariota has never started a game, but he is being praised for his cool and calm demeanor, and his ability to be a leader. 

    With an easy schedule in the month of September, Mariota is going to have some time to get some experience under his belt and gain a comfort level in the offense before facing any challenges. 

    Look for Mariota to stay healthy and under center for the Ducks.

Josh Huff Returns to Form

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    During his freshman season, Josh Huff was an impact player who came up with several big plays for the Ducks. Last year was almost the complete opposite, as Huff dealt with a nagging leg injury that limited his effectiveness. 

    Now that Huff is back and completely healthy, look for him to break back out and be the kind of playmaker fans saw during the 2010 season.

Duck Lose to USC Once, Not Twice

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    In November, the Ducks head south and go to Los Angeles to play USC. The Ducks will struggle to contain Matt Barkley in this game, and while the game will go back and forth with both teams scoring, USC will eventually prevail. 

    Just weeks later, the Ducks and Trojans will meet again in the Pac-12 title game. As the Ducks head back to Southern California for the second time, Kelly helps them execute a much better game plan, and they will win their fourth consecutive Pac-12 title.