A new era is coming for the Oregon Ducks — and the whole world of college football, really — in 2024, thanks to conference realignment and the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff.
With the death of the Pac-12 and the move to the Big Ten, Dan Lanning is now shepherding the Ducks into the new dawn, and based on the roster construction we’ve seen so far this offseason, he’s got the team well prepared.
One of the biggest questions for Oregon to answer during their move to a new conference — one that has traditionally been known for hard-nosed, big, physical play where some of the blue-bloods of the sport have dominated for decades — is whether or not the flashy and high-flying nature of the Ducks will translate. Endlessly over the past several months, Oregon fans, coaches, and players have been asked about how the team is going to stack up against this new style of play.
A better question might be how the Big Ten teams are going to stack up against Oregon, though. With their high-flying offense and ability to string even the best defenses thin, will the traditional powers of the conference have an answer for the incoming Ducks?
This past week, that’s something that Lanning was asked about in an interview with Ryen Russillo on The Ryen Russillo Podcast, part of the Ringer Podcast Network.
“I think at the end of the day, the Big Ten is going to have to prepare for us and what we do differently from that league,” Lanning said. “Great football is great football, and I’m glad to be in one of the two conferences in college football that are elite. I’m glad to get to go play some of the elite teams.”
Adjustment of play is going to be one thing, not just for Oregon, but for other teams in the conference as well. Another major factor in the newly expanded league is going to be figuring out the travel that goes along with a conference that spans from the East Coast to the West Coast.
“I’ve got to do some studies on travel and what travel will look like and how it will look different, but there isn’t going to be as much travel as people think,” Lanning said. “We traveled a good amount in the league that we were just in. We’re going to be going to LA for an away game, that’s similar to what we would have done last year. So we will assess and look at it differently.”
Early on, the schedule is shaping up quite nicely for the Ducks. As one of the top-ranked teams in the nation heading into 2024, there’s a good chance that they are favored in most, if not all of their games.
No matter what the line says on paper, though, the Ducks will have their hands full when going up against some of the best of the best, like Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
That’s a challenge that Lanning and the Ducks are up for.
“I think the challenge in front of us is a lot of fun,” Lanning said. “I don’t think anyone gets into this profession and says ‘Give me the easy road.’ So being in a conference that has that competitive nature; that has really good football; that plays a physical brand of football, that’s something that I’m excited about.”
It’s going to be an interesting year to watch, with new matchups between teams, and adjustments being made all around as teams jockey for position in the new expanded conference.
Don’t think that the Ducks are the only team having to adjust, though. There are two sides to that coin.