There will be a lot of things to pay attention to on Saturday for fans of the Oregon Ducks.
On the field, Dan Lanning and his team will look to continue their successful season and potentially lock up a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game with a win — and some help from Washington and Utah — and pick up their first ever November win against Arizona State.
We get into all of that this week with our predictions and opinions in the Ducks Wire roundtable.
Photo Courtesy of Ethan Landa
Question: The final score between Oregon and USC wasn’t exactly indicative of how the game played out. What were your biggest takeaways from the win on Saturday?
I guess overall I was again impressed by the fact that this Oregon team can play far below their best and still find ways to win comfortably. The mistakes were plentiful on Saturday, with penalties a major issue once again, but the Ducks were never really threatened by a decent USC team with a great offense. That gives me a bit of encouragement when it comes to what this team can look like if they consistently play their A-game.
This game had a lot of noise along with it and it was impressive how the Ducks just kept their nose down and concentrated on the task at hand. With the firing of Alex Grinch and the naysayers, USC had a lot to prove, but that didn’t affect Oregon at all. I liked how they kept going after Williams, even with his ability to worm out of trouble. They didn’t get frustrated, they just went to the next play. And obviously, the flags continue to be a problem. You have to think it’s going to cost them eventually, right?
Against USC, it became more clear than ever that all of Oregon’s offense is incredibly explosive. From the wide receiver and running backs, to the tight ends, and even quarterback Bo Nix, everyone is capable of winning a one-on-one battle against the best defenders, which is an invaluable skill to have.
Texas A&M Rumors
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Question: Obviously, the Texas A&M rumors dominated the weekend and the early part of the week. Personally, did you ever have any concern that Dan Lanning was on the move, or even considering a change?
Not once. Lanning hasn’t given us any reason to question what he says publicly just yet, and he’s said over and over again that he has no desire to leave Eugene. Texas A&M can pay him a lot, but it’s not even close to as advantageous situation ah the moment from a football standpoint.
Nope. Coaches often move for a “better job or to go home.” Neither was applicable here. Lanning knows he has everything he needs at Oregon to win a national championship. Why go to A&M when Oregon is the better situation?
I didn’t worry too much about Lanning’s name being thrown into the Aggie mix, purely because I think Oregon is the better job. But, that didn’t make his transparency and ironclad commitment to the Ducks in his Monday night press conference any less satisfying or reassuring.
Dole Out a Loss
Question: Looking at the top 10, you get to wave your magic wand and make it so one team loses one of their next 3 games. Who are you choosing?
I think the obvious answer has to be either Alabama or Georgia. I don’t think Alabama has any chance of losing this week against Chatanooga, but the Bulldogs play No. 18 Tennessee, so it’s possible that they get tested. If UGA loses, it likely guarantees that the SEC doesn’t get two teams into the CFP, which opens up a path for the Ducks, should they win the Pac-12.
Alabama. If Bama wins the SEC championship over UGA, they’re both getting in and Oregon wouldn’t. The best scenario would be have Bama losing to Auburn, but beating UGA. The NCAA is also looking for any excuse to eliminate Michigan and it would be nice to see them lose, even to Ohio State.
Obviously, Michigan or Ohio State will suffer one loss since they have an upcoming head-to-head, but I think the most advantageous team to lose for Oregon is Florida State. This week, there were already questions as to why Washington wasn’t ranked ahead of the Seminoles, so if Florida State were to lose UW would move to No. 4. That would put Oregon at No. 5, which means if the Ducks beat the Huskies in the Pac-12 Championship game, they are likely in the Playoff.
UW vs. OSU
Question: Staying on that note, with No. 5 Washington vs. No. 11 Oregon State this week, which side are you pulling for?
As hard as it is to say, you’ve got to root for the Huskies here as an Oregon fan. While the Beavers winning isn’t a terrible outcome, since it would give the Ducks back-to-back Top-10 matchups, potentially, it would be better if Oregon could face an undefeated Washington team that is ranked inside the top 4 in the conference title game.
Huskies all the way. I might need to shower after that statement. But Oregon needs Washington to be ranked a high as possible when they defeat them in Vegas. Beating a 12-0 Husky team would be more impressive than beating a 2-loss OSU team.
Washington winning is better for the Ducks right now, but it is so hard to root for them. Last Saturday while I was flipping channels back and forth between the Florida State vs. Miami game and the Washington vs. Utah game, I kept forgetting that I wanted Washington to win, and found myself rooting for Utah. Still, I’ll try my best to pull for the Huskies this week.
Question: Alright, let’s talk about this Arizona State game. The Sun Devils aren’t as talented as the Ducks, but they are well-coached. What about their team concerns you the most?
Arizona State has a defense that is better than advertised, and they can dominate in the trenches. Of course, that’s an area of strength for the Ducks as well, but we’ve seen the Sun Devils have some success when it comes to shutting down opposing running games.
Just how they fight and claw to stay in games. The talent isn’t there yet, but they play HARD. The longer they’re in it, the more difficult ASU will be to deal with. Ending this game by halftime would be the best outcome here.
What scares me most is the Sun Devils’ mentality. They’ve known and accepted that they are not a contender this year, so they look at each game as if they have nothing to lose, which has allowed them to hang around with good teams, and even steal some wins. I’m hoping the Ducks can make quick work of this Sun Devils team, but with the way they approach the game, I wouldn’t count out Arizona State.
What Do You Want?
Question: What do you most want to see from the Ducks this weekend vs. ASU, with “just win” being the obvious answer already on the table?
Play a clean game. If the Ducks can get out of this one with fewer than 5 penalties, then I would be ecstatic as an Oregon fan. They have to prove that they can stop shooting themselves in the foot before the finally couple of games in the season.
CUT OUT THE PENALTIES! It may not hurt this week, but I swear the flags will cost this team eventually in a big game.
I want to see the defense play a mistake-free game. In the past two weeks against Cal and USC, Oregon’s defense could’ve held their opponents to far lower scores. I don’t expect them to play the way they did against Utah every week because that was a defensive masterclass, but I’d like to see more discipline and fewer mistakes this weekend.
Question: Gambling Corner. You know the drill. $100 to spend on the spread (Oregon -23.5), the Moneyline (Oregon -3000, USC +1200) or the Over/Under (54.5). Where are you allocating your capital?
Give me $50 on the over and $50 on Oregon covering.
I’d put $70 on the Ducks covering and the rest on the under. I’d be surprised if ASU scored 14 here.
I don’t think this is one of the years where Arizona State surprises Oregon. I’m taking all $100 and betting on the Ducks to cover.
Final Score Prediction
Question: Final Score Prediction. Who wins this game?
Oregon 42, ASU, 16.
Oregon 41, ASU 10