Oregon is once again projected to win the Pac-10, despite losing Jeremiah Masoli. But rest assured, there will be plenty of competition within conference play.
This slideshow breaks down their schedule, based on strength. Easiest game first...the ones that won't pose any threat to Oregon's championship run. At the end lies the toughest games. The OOC games are automatically first since they don't affect conference play at all.
September 18th, 2010 (Week three)
Do we even need a slide for these guys?
Now I'll admit, PSU has some pretty big cahonas to come into the Autzen Zoo again...especially after their last season.
PSU is bad, even for an FCS school. Oregon should dominate both offensively and defensively. Consider this a little warm-up game for Nate Costa and Darron Thomas.
Oregon 52, Portland State 3
September 4th, 2010 (Week one)
New Mexico is like a good FCS team. I wonder who would win between them and Portland State. That might be a good game. Someone get the Lobos on the phone...
This week LaMichael James is suspended, but it won't matter much. Kenjon Barner, Remnae Alston Jr, and (possibly) Lache Seastrunk will fill in just fine.
Oregon, as with PSU, should roll to victory quite easily. Look for subs to come in during the 4th, and a boring blowout throughout.
Oregon 49, New Mexico 3
September 11th, 2010 (Week two)
Tennessee will be the hardest out of conference game for one reason: home field advantage.
The fans in Knoxxville are nuts, and the 100,000+ of them will be a bit intimidating. However, intimidating doesn't win you football games.
Oregon will get LaMichael James back at running back here, and I imagine both Nate Costa and Darron Thomas will receive playing time. The defense will shut down what few weapons the Volunteers have and roll on to victory in week two.
Oregon 35, Tennessee 14
October 30th, 2010, 6pm PST (Week eight)
Los Angeles, California
This is the first year of Kiffin vs. Kelly. It has all the makings of a great rivalry, and this would be the game that decides the Pac-10 champions. One problem.
USC football doesn't mean crap this year. They can't win the Pac-10 and they can't go to a bowl game. I also realized the sanctions against them also prevents a top 25 finish.
Because this slideshow is about who will prevent the Ducks from winning the Pac-10, it only stands to reason that the Trojans are at the bottom of the in conference games.
That being said, there is a good chance USC wins this one. Two reasons:
1) Home field advantage. I say all the time that this alone will not win football games. However it certainly helps. While the Memorial Coliseum isn't one of the toughest in the nation...its certainly no picnic.
2) Matt Barkley. He could be the best of the Pac-10 this year, up there with Jake Locker and Andrew Luck. He has the potential, and a solid supporting cast.
However, the Ducks will win. They simply have more talent, a better coach, and will already have experience in a big stadium after playing in Tennessee. If they don't get rattled there, USC should not be a problem.
The Trojans do not return any preseason All Americans or all conference players. While Matt Barkley has great running backs around him and a few good receivers, it won't match up to Oregon's defense.
Casey Matthews and company will shut 'em down. Simple as that. Albeit a tough game, the Ducks will pull away.
Oregon 31, USC 24
October 9th, 2010 (Week six)
The Cougars are without a doubt the worst Pac-10 team right now. They shame the conference. There's a handful of FCS teams that could beat WSU...I'm tempted to even include Portland State.
They won't be any more difficult than New Mexico, PSU, or Western Oregon for that matter. Oregon has supreme talent on both sides of the ball when Washington State has talent...ok, they really don't have talent.
Look for another boring blowout, and the third string guys in the 4th. Possibly even that guy selling popcorn in at quarterback.
Oregon 42, WSU 0
September 25th, 2010 (Week four)
I'm glad both Washington State and Arizona State are on the road...two easy victories here. Honestly, if Oregon lost either of these games I would disown the Ducks. There's simply no excuse.
Conference play should start off with a breeze against WSU, ASU, and Stanford.
Arizona State has minimal talent, and you have to believe Dennis Erickson's days are numbered. The quarterback struggle will be prominent this year, as will the struggle at defensive and offensive line.
In summery: You know your team is pathetic when the best offensive player is the kicker.
Oregon 41, Arizona State 10.
October 21st, 2010, 6pm PST (Week seven)
If anything, UCLA's offense will do better than finishing 88th as last year. Kevin Prince is back and should lead a fairly good offense. The defense, however, is a different story.
They won't bounce back from losing Brian Price so easily, and they return only one senior on the depth chart. The struggles will be prominent, especially in the running department.
That will spell disaster against heavy run teams like Oregon. Look for many option plays, and a good use of the run against the Bruins in week seven.
Between LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, and whoever the starting quarterback is (hopefully Darron Thomas), I see around 200 yards rushing this week in a Pac-10 blowout.
Oregon 34, UCLA 14
October 2nd, 2010, 8:15pm PST (Week five)
Last year was a sad performance put on by Oregon against Stanford. Oh sure, the score wasn't too bad. But it was a huge disappointment. Toby Gerhart ran for 224 yards on 38 plays. More than half their plays were ran by Gerhart.
This year will obviously be different. The running game isn't near as strong as it was. Andrew Luck is a great quarterback, but he ultimately just doesn't have a very strong supporting cast.
And on defense? It's still growing, and has plenty of work to do. Vic Fangio will certainly help things along, but next year won't be the year everything falls into place. Shoot-outs are almost a necessity for Stanford to win, and they won't get one against Oregon.
Oregon features a great returning defense led by Casey Matthews and Kenny Rowe. Stanford will put up a good fight, but ultimately they just don't have the guns to run with Oregon.
Oregon 35, Stanford 24
November 6th, 2010 (Week nine)
The rivalry between the Huskies and Ducks comes to Eugene this year. It'll be a great showdown, and the last one for Jake Locker. No doubt he'll want to make a lasting impression.
The question is: Can Washington play defense?
There's no doubt the offense is good this year. Chris Polk, Jermaine Kearse, and others will provide solid options for quarterback Jake Locker. However the defense will really struggle.
Washington's defense allowed at least 26 points per game last year, and got demolished by several teams including Stanford, OSU, and yes, Oregon.
While it's to be expected that the defense would improve, it won't be near enough to stop the Ducks—with or without Masoli.
Oregon 34, Washington 21
December 4th, 2010 (Week twelve)
The Beavers are mighty close to becoming Pac-10 champions. This could be the last year for the Rodgers and Rodgers duo, and they obviously want to end their careers with a bang.
Despite having a new quarterback (either Ryan Katz or Peter Lalich), the Beavs return three All Americans, and five all conference players.
Stephen Paea leads an experienced defense into the season, and hopefully will be able to take the pressure off of Rodgers and company to score so many touchdowns. The defense is better than it looks, and I predict OSU finishes with a top 20 defense.
OSU played a fantastic game against Oregon last year, and the Ducks were able to contain the Rodgers brothers enough to get the win, despite accounting for nearly all of their offensive yards.
This year look for a bit more defense to be involved, and no home field advantage for the Ducks. We'll also get to see who the best running back in the Pac-10 is: LaMichael James, or Jacquizz Rodgers.
Oregon needs to win this game. Coming off of a two game losing streak (see next two slides) I imagine the Ducks will be pretty pissed coming into Corvallis. A loss will put them way down in the Pac-10 rankings. A win means another trip to the Rose Bowl.
Oregon 28, OSU 23
November 13th, 2010 (Week ten)
This is my first predicted loss for Oregon, as they travel down to Berkeley.
Last year the Ducks mopped the floor with the Golden Bears in a 42-3 beating. Jahvid Best was completely shut down, and they looked downright pathetic.
This year Cal gets revenge. I personally don't think the Ducks will see 'em coming. Smashed in between two home games of Washington and Arizona, it's a sleeper for sure.
Oregon has struggled there in the past, and this year won't be any different. Cal will give the Ducks their first loss of the season and end their undefeated run.
I think the running game will play a role in that, but it'll mostly be home field advantage combined with the element of surprise that will shock the Ducks in an overtime thriller comparable to that of the 'Zona game last year.
Cal 36, Oregon 35 (OT)
November 26th, 2010, 4pm PST (Week eleven)
Arizona comes not even a week after the Golden Bears shocker. You'd think Oregon would be ever alert and ready for payback a week later...but I predict yet another loss.
This week could either make or break the Ducks season. I don't think the Wildcats will be ranked at this point, so another loss will be devastating. However, don't count out Arizona. Last year came down to the wire in double OT in an awesome thriller.
This year I'd expect much the same result. They return a total of 12 starters, including two all conference players.
The offense is loaded with talent, especially in the run department. On defense Trevin Wade leads a talented backfield, however the front seven appear to be a bit weak. If Oregon is to win, I think it'll come by way of LaMichael James and the running game.
Look for a hard fought battle, two excellent running games, and another upset over the Ducks.
Arizona 38, Oregon 35
Projected record: 10-2 (7-2)
Projected losses: California, Arizona
Projected finish: First in the Pac-10; 13th nationally
Oregon returns 19 starters, and will undoubtedly be more stable this season. LaMichael James will be back after cupcake New Mexico, and will have a solid offense around him.
The receiving crew and the entire offensive line returns as well.
On defense, they only lose two starters on the defensive line, and one linebacker.
All Americans Kenny Rowe and Casey Matthews return to lead the veteran squad defense.
USC is the biggest threat, but I think the Ducks will manage. It's about time they win in LA, and the quarterback problem will be long gone by October 30th.
If the defense can keep Matt Barkley under control, the offense will take care of the rest.
Cal consistently gives the Ducks trouble, and will want payback for last years beating. Even without Jahvid Best, they're a good team, and I'm going with the upset here.
However, don't expect Arizona to fade out so easily after last years success (minus the terrible Holiday Bowl of course). They'll give Oregon a rough time, and will ultimately get revenge for last year's double OT loss.
Overall, it looks like another 10-win season, and another trip to the Rose Bowl after a hard fought Civil War.