Oregon Football: Which Remaining Opponent Poses Biggest Threat to Ducks?
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It's three games before the Pac-12 Championship, and the Oregon Ducks are looking good—real good. If the Ducks can run the table in the North division and keep their swagger rolling into the conference championship game, Oregon may be staring a national championship right in the face.
Two of the the three teams Oregon will face in the next three weeks are ranked nationally in the BCS Top 25. Given that the Ducks are ranked No. 3 right now in the standings, these two wins could be the biggest factor in the computer system warming up to Oregon and propelling them into the No. 2 position.
Oregon took care of business down at the Coliseum with a win over the very talented USC Trojans. With the "biggest matchup of the year" behind them, we look to see what lies ahead for Oregon in the coming weeks.
California Golden Bears
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The Ducks last faraway road game in the Pac-12 comes this Saturday with a journey back down to California. This time, they will be visiting a struggling Golden Bear (3-7) team that wants nothing other than to knock off the No. 3 team in the nation.
California only has two Pac-12 conference wins this season, one of them coming against a bottom-feeding Washington State (2-7) squad that is just below the Golden Bears in the North division.
That being said, this past weekend the No. 2 Ducks volleyball team was upset by an unranked, 11-11 Golden Bear team, so you never know what can happen.
In the last two visits to Berkeley, the Ducks have not looked like the explosion of offense that fans are used to seeing. In 2008 and 2010 combined, the Ducks only put up 31 points in California Memorial Stadium. One of those games ended in a loss.
Though the Ducks have had their string of bad luck when taking on California down in the bay area, watch for Oregon to put the Golden Bears into hibernation early in this one.
California poses little threat to the Ducks.
The Ducks will "Win The Day."
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The Stanford Cardinal are a better team than their ranking suggests. Although they are ranked No.14, they should be higher. If it weren't for a botched call against now-No. 4 Notre Dame, the Cardinal may be ranked in the Top 10 nationally.
With the loss of Andrew Luck to the NFL, coach David Shaw has shown the nation that he can win games consistently with first-year starter Josh Nunes at quarterback.
Without a doubt, this game would be a shootout if it were in Palo Alto, but it's not—it's in Autzen stadium. If you have never been to Autzen, you need to buy a ticket and experience what it feels like to be deaf for a few hours.
Adrian Peterson, former Oklahoma running back, was asked about Autzen's noise. He was quoted saying "It was like some sort of crazy torture in the movies. How do people do that so long without taking a breath? I think my ears are still ringing" (via oregongridiron.com).
Just like Andrew Luck, Nunes and the Cardinal will falter when they enter Autzen on Nov. 17.
It will be a fun game to watch, but the Cardinal don't have the talent right now to take down the Ducks at home.
Oregon State Beavers
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The Oregon State Beavers have come out of nowhere this year and emerged as one of the best teams in college football. They are ranked No. 11 in the BCS and second in the Pac-12 North, right behind the Ducks.
With two capable quarterbacks to put under center, a shifty, redshirt freshman running back and a duo of blazing fast receivers, the Beavers have become a very fun team to watch this season.
Oregon state looks almost identical to USC offensively, while its defense has proven that it can stand its ground. The Beavers are currently ranked fifth in rushing defense, while the Ducks are ranked No. 2 in rushing offense. Rivalry games don't get much better than that.
The Nov. 24 bout is at Reser stadium in Corvallis, where Beaver believers will be yelling at the top of their lungs all night. Believe me, it gets loud! I witnessed it myself against Wisconsin in the Beavers opener. Oregon State will be hyped and ready to go Nov. 24, so the Ducks better be prepared.
The Beavers pose the biggest threat to Oregon in the four weeks left of conference play.
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Pac-12 Championship (Hypothetically Speaking)
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The three teams still fighting for a chance to win the Pac-12 South division are the USC Trojans, UCLA Bruins and Arizona State Sun Devils.
Oregon has already taken down the Sun Devils and "deflated" the Trojans in away games this season. If the Ducks can take care of business away from home against both foes, they will surely dismantle them at home in Autzen stadium. That leaves only one team left to analyze—UCLA.
Last year, the Bruins played in the Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon due to USC's ineligibility, stemming from sanctions. UCLA came into the game with a 5-4 record and its head coach, Rick Neuheisel, had already been fired.
Let's just say that the first Pac-12 Championship Game was a bit of a joke.
This year, though, if the Bruins make it all the way to the conference championship, it won't be a joke. They are under new head coach Jim Mora, who has handed redshirt freshman quarterback Brent Hundley the reigns to his offense.
Hundley has not disappointed. Through nine games, he is averaging just over 275 passing yards with 21 touchdowns through the air and six on the ground.
The Bruins are second in rushing in the Pac-12, right behind Oregon. Running back Jonathan Franklin is piling up over 130 yards per contest, which helps keep the pressure off of Hundley.
The Bruins are playing good football, but nowhere near Oregon's level of play.
Posing little threat, one of these three southern division teams will come to play at Autzen on the night of Nov. 30