The Oregon Ducks can't do anything more on the field to prove their greatness than they have, yet they are falling down the polls due to a lack of quality opponents on their schedule. That is all about to change.
The Ducks have a couple of games against teams that were ranked in the top 25 when they played, but none of their victories have come against teams currently ranked in the top 25. Meanwhile, Kansas State and Notre Dame have both picked up marquee victories.
Oregon is suffering as a result.
Last week, the Ducks beat a decent Arizona State squad 57-34, and they were rewarded by being dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 in the BCS standings.
This week they demolished a bad Colorado team, 70-14, and there is an excellent chance that they will now drop from No. 3 to No. 4 in the week's BCS rankings.
The Ducks have been playing amazingly. They are rushing for just over 330 yards per game, and they have playmakers galore.
They have been great on defense as well. They are No. 24 in the nation in points allowed, which looks even more impressive given that Ducks games feature an inordinate number of possessions.
The good news for the Ducks is that their schedule is toughening up. Three of their last four opponents (USC, Stanford and Oregon State) were in the top 25 of the BCS rankings this last week, and all likely will be next week.
Next week, the Ducks travel to take on USC. The Trojans are struggling on defense, and they just allowed a similar offensive system in Arizona to hang 39 on them. USC has next to no depth on the defensive line, and that is a recipe for disaster against the Ducks.
Oregon will wear that defense out and run all over it. They will turn that game into a blowout in the fourth quarter.
Two weeks after the USC game, the Ducks will host Stanford, and there isn't a team in the nation outside of Alabama for which you can make a reasonable argument for beating the Ducks in Autzen Stadium.
Finally, they will close the regular season against the surprising Oregon State Beavers, who just picked up their first loss. The Beavers are a solid and well-balanced team, but they don't have the athleticism to keep up with the Ducks.
Oregon will finish the regular season undefeated.
This stretch will quickly alleviate the Ducks' deficiency in the strength of schedule department, and their strong performances will quiet any doubters who are snubbing the Ducks due to their opponents.
However, I believe in this case, the Ducks would still need help to get into the title game.
If Alabama goes undefeated, they will be in. I don't think anyone is going to argue that. I am also of the belief that if Notre Dame goes undefeated, they will be in the championship game. There is just no way that school, with its history and drawing power, will be denied.
Kansas State is another story. They only have one regular-season game against a team currently in the top 25, and that is against the less-than-impressive Texas team, which was No. 23 in this week's rankings.
Oregon will answer all critics over the close of its regular season. Now it just has to hope that Notre Dame proves its critics right at some point.
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