2013 Oregon Ducks Season Preview

By Loot, College Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

2013 Oregon Ducks Season Preview

A lot of people are high on Oregon and rightly so. Only 2-time defending BCS National Champion Alabama is a bigger favorite to win the title this season. Oregon is going off at 13 to 2 and should be right in the mix right up until the end. They really didn’t end up very far off in 2012. A few more things go right and that might do the trick. They have a squad boasting of big talent, with a lot of key guys coming back with more experience. They should have a big season.

Chip Kelly is gone and it’s unclear exactly how that will resonate. Their offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich takes over and sure has a lot of talent to prove his worth as a head coach. RB Kenjon Barner is gone, but the skill positions are loaded. Over the past several years, the best high school players on the west have seen what a player can do in this offense and the recruiting has been super-strong. For the foreseeable future, any time they lose a key guy, there’s a young stud who can fill in without hardly missing a beat.

They still have rising quarterback Marcus Mariota, lightning-fast De’Anthony Thomas, and a slew of guys in the backs and receiving corps. Their defense, often overshadowed by the high-powered defense, could be underrated. They could be a little stingier and some young newcomers will need to hit the ground running. Again, they weren’t that far off in 2012.

They were cruising along nicely. Most games were wipeouts, as Oregon streaked out to a 10-0 record while averaging 55 points a game. Then Stanford stymied them at home in an upset 17-14 loss. That would be their only loss the whole season, a field goal in overtime away from a perfect season and a shot at the BCS national Championship Game. It’s not hard to see why only superpower Alabama tops them in terms of projections for 2013.


The schedule looks favorable, with a few tough tests in the mix. They will cruise early, with their first 3 games against Nichols State, Virginia, and Tennessee. Cal is next and they will fall, as will Colorado. Then comes a road game against improved Washington. Still, they beat the Huskies by 31 last season and should win easily. After beating Washington State at home, they face UCLA at home in a potentially tough game against a rising team. The season ends with some tests, particularly against Stanford, a game the Ducks have circled on the schedule. That leads to season-closing games against Arizona and Oregon State.

The schedule is not easy, but they should beat all these teams. The problem might be that some of those teams are better than last year and might not be easy. And the Stanford game is in Palo Alto this season. After losing at home as 18.5-point favorites last season, they face a Stanford team that might be even better and on the road, to boot. Many think this season will come down to that game. At the same time, the Ducks can’t afford to sleep on Washington or UCLA and maybe even a few more squads that could be better than what we’re thinking now.

Defense is a question mark. But isn’t it always with high-powered offensive teams like Oregon? They say “defense wins championships” and there’s some truth to that. Oregon’s defense will have to perform well this season if Oregon is going to get to the big game and have a chance to win. But last season, offense could have won them a championship and this year might come down to a game or two where their offense is getting more stuffed up than usual. It’s hard on teams who are flying up and down the field all season when suddenly their offense isn’t clicking. That seemed to affect them in the Stanford game. This year, they might need to show they can win when not scoring a touchdown every other time you look at the screen.

The Ducks are looking for depth at tailback and if they find it, watch out! If Mariota and a talented crew of ball-catchers start hitting their stride, the run should be hard to stop. All their top pass catchers are back and a lot of young talent exists among the running backs. Look for another slew of massive butt-kickings this season, with a few games and maybe even just a few plays, determining whether Oregon gets to the big game.

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