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Preseason College Football Top 25: #16 Oregon | The Sports Report Girl

Preseason College Football Top 25: #16 Oregon

Why They’re Here: Like everyone else, I originally had the Ducks in my top 10 coming into the year. Then QB Jeremiah Massoli got suspended for the season and things changed a bit. Then I heard about the quarterback situation, with Nate Costa and Darron Thomas, and things changed some more. This team is the ultimate unknown coming into this season and just like last year (admittedly a poor decision) I’ve decided to sleep on them.

The Good: There is a ton of good coming into this season for the Ducks. They return their entire offensive line, which is always a big, big bonus, plus a total of nine starters from last year on offense. RB LaMichael James is another (superlative beginning with ‘s’) sophomore, and his running ability – along with the emergence of fellow sophomore speedster Kenjon Barner – will make the Oregon running attack one of the best in the nation. This is a very well coached team and head coach Chip Kelly may even be the best in the Pac-10. If these guys can live up to their potential, the Pac-10 could easily reemerge as one of the top conferences in all of college football. There’s also freshman CB Terrance Mitchell, who put on a show, returning an interception 46 yards for a touchdown in the spring game, and the number 13-rated recruiting class in the nation.

The Bad: Replacing Massoli is a lot like replacing Tim Tebow for Florida. So much of the Ducks offensive identity was based on the way Massoli played. He wasn’t an imposing physical presence or a tremendously talented passer, but he made big plays in big situations and his leadership and poise at the quarterback position will be impossible to replace. The Ducks also play at Tennessee, at Arizona State, at Cal, at Oregon State and at USC this season. Last year, all of Oregon’s tough games were played in the Autzen Zoo. The Ducks have one of the best home crowds in the nation and in that environment playing your toughest games at home gives you quite an advantage. Having to go on the road for all of the big games, with a new starting quarterback who wasn’t expected to play this year…not easy.

The Last Word: The Ducks biggest opponent this year is themselves. They have every excuse to let this season slip away and start worrying about next year early. If this team proves not to have what it takes, it won’t take long to show. Don’t be surprised to see a loss at Tennessee on September 11 and even a loss to Arizona State. However, if they can make it to the USC game undefeated, they may just be battle tested enough to pull out the win. Nothing from a 6-6 to 12-0 record would really surprise me for this Oregon team. But if I were a betting man, my money would be on the former.

Final Record: 8-5

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