Oregon's path to the College Football Playoff has opened up originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest
With one week until the opening of the Pac-12 College Football season, one of the conference's largest fears has disappeared.
Due to the late start, each Pac-12 team will only play seven conference games before the College Football Playoff Selection Committee decides which teams will advance to the playoff. That's fewer games than every other Power 5 conference and that puts any Pac-12 school, such as the Oregon Ducks, at a significant disadvantage.
The disaster scenario was Oregon goes undefeated, but so does an ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Big 12 school. That fear is always present, but this season Oregon would not get to play the same amount of games as other conference champions. Therefore, it's almost certain the Ducks would be ranked fifth, at best, if that scenario had happened.
But as of Saturday, that's impossible after Texas upset previously undefeated No. 6 Oklahoma State to ensure every team in the Big 12 will hold at least one loss.
With that being the case, Oregon's path to the College Football Playoff has opened up: Go 7-0 and it will be hard to deny the Ducks a playoff spot.
If Oregon can go undefeated with wins over California, Washington, and Pac-12 South Champion ASU/USC/Utah, with impressive performances throughout the season, I see it as a longshot they don't make the College Football Playoff.
I think had Oregon been competing for that last playoff spot against another undefeated conference champ, then they would be a long shot given the penalty of playing fewer games. But if the only blemish is Oregon's lack of games, which the school had no control over, compared to a team who lost on the gridiron, then the answer seems clear and Oregon would advance.
The largest hiccup I can foresee for an undefeated Oregon team is if No. 4 Notre Dame defeats No. 1 Clemson next weekend, with Trevor Lawrence sidelined due to COVID-19. Then Notre Dame finishes undefeated with Clemson only losing that game. Then, it's hard to claim Clemson isn't a top-four team in the country given its only loss was when Lawrence was out of the lineup. But, with all the talent on the Tigers roster, Clemson remains favored even with a true freshman at quarterback. So, if DJ Uiagalelei can lead the Tigers to a win next weekend, then the playoff spot could be Oregon's to lose.
If Oregon can achieve its goal of a playoff appearance, it will be the second appearance in program history and first since 2015 when Marcus Mariota led the Ducks to the national championship game, after a 59-20 throttling of Florida State in the 2015 Rose Bowl.
Coincidentally, the Rose Bowl is a College Football Playoff Semifinal again this season.
Will history repeat itself? We'll have to wait and see.
Oregon opens the Pac-12 College Football season on Saturday, November 7th at 4:30 p.m. PT at Autzen Stadium.