Since Joey Harrington departed roughly 4 years ago to the Detroit Lions, things haven't been the best in Eugene for the brightly-colored team now led by senior Dennis Dixon and junior Jonathan Stewart.
But could this year's version of the Ducks be different? Yes, they destroyed Michigan 39-7. And yes, Michigan lost to App State. Oregon also had a convincing win over Houston, but their first real test lies at home against an ultra-athletic California team.
This September 29th matchup will surely play a major role in not only who wins the Pac-10, but possibly who will be playing for a national championship this season. The Pac-10 looks strong, led by USC, Cal, and Oregon. While their next game is against Fresno St., I am expecting a hard-fought but solid victory for Oregon, while they will certainly look ahead at that huge game in Autzen Stadium. Coach Mike Bellotti has the demeanor on the sidelines this season of a hungry competitor, but will his Ducks continue their impressive start?
1. Dennis Dixon staying consistent. Last season this was a problem, which is why we saw so much Brady Leaf. If Dixon can continue to be a dual threat and stay healthy, the Ducks will look good.
2. Jonathan Stewart's production. Stewart is a beast in the backfield, and if the receivers do their part, Jonathan will have a stellar season and may consider an early leap to the NFL. His impact is not to be underestimated.
3. The Defense continuing its success. Holding Michigan to 7 points was quite amazing to the average Oregon fan because we know how many points Oregon tends to give up. Maybe this year is different. Their is no one superstar on the defensive side of the ball, but perhaps this unit can stay healthy, and if so, Oregon will continue to impress.
4. Autzen Stadium: The site for 2 pivotal games, Cal and USC. Oregon has the luxury of both these games at home, and if they pull them out, Oregon will be looking at a top 3 BCS ranking. Autzen can be a rocking, deafening stadium at times, and this could help the Ducks immensely.
Can the Ducks run the table? Absolutely. They have the offensive firepower, but everything has to continue to fall into place. If it does, look for the Ducks to be staring down a top 2 BCS ranking and be playing in a BCS bowl.