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In many ways, Oregon hosting Tennessee Tech on Saturday will be a subplot for the Ducks, who are dealing with season-ending injuries to starting safety John Boyett and starting guard Carson York.
The Ducks may have solid depth, but the loss of both will be difficult to overcome as Oregon chases a national championship this season.
But that talk is for another day. There is still the business of going out and beating the Golden Eagles, who would only stand a chance in this game if it were an actual fight between an eagle and a duck rather than a football game. Let's preview what should promise to be a lopsided affair.
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
When: Saturday, September 15 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Listen: Sirius 92
Betting Line: TBD (Note: Unless the oddsmakers make you lay infinity to bet the Ducks, you should roll with Oregon.)
Tennessee Tech Injuries
None to report
S John Boyett, Knees, Out for Season
OG Carson York, Knee, Out for Season
WR Josh Huff, Leg Questionable
OL Kyle Long, Ankle, Questionable
LB Keloni Kamalani, Arm, Questionable
If Oregon loses, everyone will forget about Arkansas' shocking loss to Louisiana-Monroe from a week ago. What is more likely is that Oregon will score about 70 points in a blowout win.
Top 25 Implications
Unless teams above them lose, Oregon isn't going to get bumped up in the rankings by beating Tennessee Tech. If they lose, they'll obviously be dropped out of the Top 25 like a bad habit.
What They're Saying
Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown isn't deluding himself—he knows his team has a tall (insurmountable, really) task when they face the Ducks. He wasn't shy about praising this Oregon team (via Adam Jude of The Oregonian):
We played TCU when they were ranked fourth (in 2010), but this is the best team we've played since I've been here. They're just so big and fast everywhere. They don't make many mistakes and they just jump on everybody quick. They get you fast.
We know what we're running into. I just feel like, if you come out of these games healthy, you get better.
That's as close as you'll ever get to a coach simply saying, "There isn't a Choco Taco's chance in a pool of molten lava that we're winning this game."
Tennessee Tech Player to Watch: Da'Rick Rogers, Wide Receiver
A year ago, Rogers was a member of the Tennessee Volunteers, where he led the SEC with 67 catches, was second in the league with 1,040 receiving yards and caught nine touchdown passes. But he was suspended indefinitely from the team for substance-abuse violations and transferred to Tennessee Tech.
He's picked up for the Golden Eagles where he left off with the Volunteers, with eight catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Oregon will need to pay close attention to him in this one.
Oregon Player to Watch: The Skill Positions
Take your pick—the Ducks have more weapons laying around than an online game of Halo.
Kenjon Barner has 267 rushing yards and five touchdowns after two games.
De'Anthony Thomas is averaging 15.6 yards a carry, leads the team in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (81) and has five total touchdowns.
Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota has accounted for 467 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns.
The Ducks are third in the nation in rushing yards (331.5 per game) and 10th in points scored (49.5 per game). Eight different players have already scored for this team (or threw a touchdown pass). If you try to shut down one player on this team, five others will skewer you.
Key Matchup: The Scoreboard Operator Against Oregon's Offense
Can the scoreboard operator in Eugene update the score as quickly as Oregon adds to it? Will statisticians be able to keep up with all of Oregon's running game, or will the totals on the box score simply say "A Lot" under Oregon's rushing total afterwards? Should we institute a mercy rule?
I kid, I kid. But in all honesty, Oregon is going to put up a lot of points on a lot of good teams this season. There will be no shame for Tennessee Tech in losing this game.
Tennessee Tech will win this one going away. I'm joking, of course. This will be over by the time the first quarter ends. Oregon wins, 66-7.