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Oregon Ducks

College Football

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Last season was a bit of a mess for Oregon finishing with only four total wins and two in Pac-12 play with that leading to Willie Taggart taking over. Taggart has led some high-powered offenses at Western Kentucky and South Florida, but never fully took those teams to the top of their respective conferences, which makes his case at Oregon an interesting one.

At the least, the Ducks should be fine offensively, which is almost always the case. They scored 35.4 points per game a year ago and should match that total with Justin Herbert (19 TDs, 4 INTs) back under center after taking over as a freshman. It’s not just him as running back Royce Freeman returns for his fourth season after battling injury in 2016. When healthy, he’s one of the best in the nation and has plenty of experience behind him with Tony Brooks-James (771 yards, 9 TDs), Kani Benoit and Taj Griffin. Wide receiver is a bit less stacked, yet Herbert still has top targets Darren Carrington (606 yards, 5 TDs) and Charles Nelson (554 yards, 5 TDs) to work with. It’s the same situation on the offensive line with all five starters returning to go with former Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal now leading the unit.

Of course, defense is another issue after Oregon allowed 41.4 points per game last season, one of the worst rates in the country. To help, the Ducks grabbed Jim Leavitt over from Colorado and he’ll bring in a 3-4 scheme that should pay immediate dividends. In addition to the experience returning for the back end, including Arrion Springs and Troy Dye, the Ducks brought in graduate transfer Scott Pagano from Clemson. Senior end Henry Mondeaux joins him, making this group immediately better than what was put on the field a year ago. Of course, it’s still a work-in-progress as Leavitt isn’t a miracle worker, despite what Colorado did last year.

The Ducks will return to relevance soon enough, but are still probably a year off from competing for a North title. For this season, they could get out to a fast start in non-conference play and then some favorable games in the Pac-12. If they can get home upsets against teams like Wazzu and Utah, that will give the Ducks at least a bowl game. Winning at Stanford, UCLA and Washington are all unlikely, but with this offense and a favorable schedule, eight wins isn’t off the table. Betting on more than that would be a mistake, though.

Oregon has decent odds of +1400 to win the Pac-12 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook), which places them at fourth in the North division, just behind Washington State. But considering the Ducks host the Cougars, they could easily leap them in the standings. This offense will be loaded, it’s a matter of whether or not the defense can be mediocre, if this team will be great or not.


2017 Oregon Ducks Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Southern Utah
Sept. 9 vs. Nebraska
Sept. 16 at Wyoming
Sept. 23 at Arizona State

Sept. 30 vs. California
Oct. 7 vs. Washington State
Oct. 14 at Stanford

Oct. 21 at UCLA
Oct. 28 vs. Utah
Nov. 4 at Washington
Nov. 18 vs. Arizona
Nov. 25 vs. Oregon State

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