A new era will begin in Eugene this fall. Willie Taggart is already giving the program a face lift. He’s cut down on the number of uniforms that will be worn, placing a bigger emphasis on performance than fashion. He’s boasting a recruiting class that’s currently ranked sixth in the nation by rivals. In comparison, Mark Helfrich’s three classes were 26th, 17th, and 25th.
Now what will this year hold? Justin Herbert will be under center after taking over the job midway through the season. Royce Freeman returns with hopes of a better ending to his collegiate career. The two storylines to watch will be the growth of Herbert and can the defense take a step in the right direction. Last year they couldn’t stop a nosebleed with a beach towel. By Oregon’s standard, winning more than four games, two in the PAC-12, should be a cake walk given its schedule is ranked 46th overall.
Below are my expectations for the 2017 season:
This game will be a tune-up for the showdown with Nebraska. Expect the backups and young guys to get some time in this game.
This game started the spiral in 2016. Aside from the obvious with Oregon, Nebraska’s electric QB graduated. They’ll be losing their sack leader on defense, run stuffer, and running back. Aside from that they’re pretty stable. This should be a tight game similar to the 35-32 finish. The Huskers have a strong secondary, but the strength of the Ducks will be their OL with four returning starters and three backs. Oregon wins by a touchdown.
Josh Allen is Wyoming’s starting QB. If you’re a fan of football, don’t miss this game. Allen is projected by many as the best QB in college football-yes ahead of Rosen and Darnold by some. He’s got the strongest arm in college football and he’s 6’7” with 4.6-4.7 40-time speed. This will give the ducks a great projection of where the defense is and their development. Allen will test the secondary with his ability to make every throw on the field. The Ducks have more talent overall, so it should lead to a comfortable win.
at Arizona State
Defeating the Sun Devils last year put an end to the five-game losing streak. ASU will return virtually every starter from last year’s team. However, nothing should change except the address of this year’s game. I’ll be generous and close the margin of victory by 14 instead of 19 in 2016.
4-0, 1-0 (Pac-12)
A game that had a feeling of “we can’t get out of our own way” last year should have a different outcome this year. Can I interest you in a team with a new head coach and quarterback competition that still isn’t settled? That’s the reality of the Golden Bears’ program. They do offer a few explosive players. For instance: Demetrius Roberts, who was a highly touted WR and will be the QB’s No. 1 option. Cal’s program turnover, playing on the road in Eugene, and coming off a game against USC means a blowout win for the Ducks.
5-0, 2-0 (Pac-12)
Luke Faulk will bring Wazzu’s air raid offense to Eugene with thought of the 50 burger he gave the Ducks last year. If Jim Leavitt wants to earn the trust of the Oregon faithful, it’ll start with this game. If Faulk didn’t scare you they’ll bring Biletnikoff Award watch list Jr. wide receiver, Tavares Martin. The three running backs who played last year will return, in addition to three of the five offensive linemen, one being a unanimous All-American. If you’re a betting man, take the over in Vegas. It’ll help that they’ll play them at home and after they play USC. Oregon wins by a field goal.
6-0, 3-0 (Pac-12)
The toughness that Taggart is trying to instill in his team will be put to the test when they head to the farm. David Shaw’s pound the rock and control the line of scrimmage offense will have a new signal caller, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. The Stanford team make up is the Alabama of the West. The contrast of styles in this offense will be interesting to see. I think the Cardinal prevail in the end.
6-1, 3-1 (Pac-12)
The Rosen one is back with something to prove this year. Josh Rosen will lead a UCLA team that is full of talent. Each starter on offense is at the least a junior and they have elite skill players. On defense their two youngest starters will be freshmen that were the 5-star recruits in the 2017 class. I think the Ducks lose this one and it’s not close.
6-2, 3-2 (Pac-12)
This year’s Utes team won’t be as good as the 2016 team. They’re losing their elite RB and LT to the draft. Somehow their senior QB that started 13 games last season lost his job to a true sophomore. Barring a first team all-conference type performance this should be another win for the Ducks.
This will be a pride check for the Ducks. I haven’t decided which part of last year’s home game was more embarrassing, giving up 70 points or losing by 49. Luckily for the Ducks, this year’s Washington team though talented, isn’t as good. I still expect the Huskies to take care of business with argubly the best front seven in the PAC-12 on defense. They won’t win by 49, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s at least 14.
7-3, 4-3 (Pac-12)
Well it’s not basketball season so there shouldn’t be any nerves heading into this game. This will serve as a scrimmage against another team before the Beavers game. There aren’t too many noteworthy playmakers on the Wildcats team that’ll pose a consistent threat. Their QB Dawkins isn’t much of a passer and their running back is coming off of a season ending ankle injury.
8-3, 5-3 (Pac-12)
No way this is a revenge game, right? Hell yeah it is! Last year’s Civil War was a gift and a curse for Ducks fans. It capped the worst season in a decade, but it did lead to the end of Helfrich’s time in Eugene. This year’s game should be a nail bitter, again. The only difference is the outcome. The Ducks win a close one in Eugene.
9-3, 6-3 (Pac-12)