College Football Rankings: Predicting Oregon Schedule W/out LaMichael James

Sean LansingContributor IOctober 9, 2011

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 06:  A general view of the stadium during the game between of Oregon Ducks and the California Golden Bears on October 6, 2011 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The Oregon Ducks are an elite team with tailback LaMichael James in the lineup, but how good are they without him? 

James suffered a dislocated elbow against Cal this week, and while doctors say he could be back this season, anybody who saw his elbow bend knows that it was a gruesome injury. 

The junior tailback is a tough kid who's battled back from injuries before, so anything is possible.

Assuming though that James is sidelined for any extended period of time, how will the Ducks fare as they try to navigate through the remainder of the PAC 12 schedule? 

Chip Kelly's team will be tested right away when they line up against No. 18 Arizona State on Saturday. 

The Sun Devils' lone blemish came against a 6-0 Illinois team, and Dennis Erickson finally has ASU firing on all cylinders. 

Everybody in the country would have loved to see James go against standout linebacker Vontaze Burfict, but that isn't likely to happen. 

Even without James, you have to like the Ducks chances. The matchup with Arizona State is at home, and the Sun Devils haven't beat anyone special. 

If the Oregon can survive on Saturday, they should have no problems until their Nov. 12 showdown with Andrew Luck and Stanford. 

Once ASU leaves town, the Ducks and their second ranked offense play PAC 12 newcomer Colorado (1-5), Washington State (3-2), and a Washington team that is giving up 30 points per-game. 

With or without James, the Ducks will likely struggle against the Cardinal. Stanford is the best overall team in the conference with arguably the best quarterback in the country, and they will be out for revenge after Oregon spoiled their perfect season in 2010. 

Following a likely loss, the Ducks should finish their season with two wins over a USC team on probation with nothing to play for and a dreadful Oregon State team who just barely beat fellow PAC 12 cellar-dweller Arizona this weekend for their first win of the season. 

While Oregon might not be great without LaMichael James, they are still pretty good. 

With a little luck on Nov. 12, they could find themselves wearing the conference crown again this year.