Today we look at No. 22 – Oregon.
Top 25 to date
No. 25: LSU
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No. 24: Texas
No. 23: Central Florida
Nuts and bolts
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Coach: Mario Cristobal (first season at Oregon; 27-48 overall at Florida International University)
2017: 7-6, 4-5 in Pac-12 (lost to Boise State in Las Vegas Bowl)
Last league title: 2014
Three things to know
1. All on Herbert. The Ducks will go as far as quarterback Justin Herbert can take them. When Herbert was healthy last season, the Ducks averaged 52.1 points in seven games compared to just 15 points when Herbert sat out with an injury.
At 6-foot-6, 231 pounds, Herbert could be the top quarterback prospect in college this season. He’s got a veteran offensive line, but the question is whether he’ll have the receiving depth to flash his full potential.
2. Strong D. Jim Leavitt is one of the top defensive coordinators in the country, and the Ducks have the talent to build on last season. It starts up front in Leavitt’s 3-4 scheme with nose guard Jordon Scott and defensive ends Jalen Jelks and Austin Faoliu leading the way.
Also returning on D is linebacker Troy Dye, who has lead the Ducks in tackles the past two seasons and is poised for a solid junior campaign. The biggest issue is secondary depth.
3. Coaching carousel. It wasn’t that long ago that Mark Helfrich had the Ducks competing in the national championship game (2014). But college football is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ industry, and Helfrich saw the program fall to a 4-8 record two short years later (2016).
Willie Taggart took over the program in 2017, but was one-and-done as he bolted to Florida State. Now it’s Cristobal, who coached last year’s bowl game and is now leading a program for the first time since 2012.
Three games to watch
1. Sept. 22 vs. Stanford. Oregon has a favorable schedule with four straight home games to open the season. Stanford is the last of that and this should be an intriguing game between what should be two ranked teams.
2. Oct. 13 vs. Washington. Oregon’s schedule continues to do it favors when the Pac-12 favorite comes to town. The Ducks will be coming off a bye week, while the Huskies will have just played a road game at UCLA.
3. Nov. 3 vs. UCLA. What sort of reception is Chip Kelly going to get in his return to Autzen Stadium? Kelly had a remarkable four-year run with Oregon, but the NCAA put the program on probation for violations during Kelly’s tenure.