Saturday, October 26, 2013
The biggest game of the season to date.
Despite resembling an unstoppable killing machine this season with college football's preeminent player at the helm of the offense, Oregon actually dropped to a #3 ranking in the eyes of those who like to rank things after last week's win over Washington State. The first BCS rankings in the lousy system's final year were released, giving Florida State a lead over Oregon by fractions of percentage points. When strength of schedule is taken into consideration, the Ducks should overtake the Seminoles provided that both teams remain undefeated for the rest of the season. When we talk like that, we are getting way, way ahead of ourselves, however. And I wouldn't trust anyone on the planet who thinks they can predict what garbage the BCS algorithm will spew out from week to week.
Let's talk about the opponent at hand, shall we? UCLA has slowly ascended to the throne of Kings of Los Angeles-area College Football with USC floundering in the post-Pete Carroll days. This year's Bruins team is clearly the best of the recent bunch, and they are led by sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley. The Pac-12 has an astonishingly talented group of quarterbacks, so it's no surprise that another ranked team in the Bruins would have yet another high caliber QB. Unlike last week's shenanigans, in which a wild gunslinger went for (and broke) an all-time FBS (Division I) record by attempting 89 passes (many with the game basically out of hand), Hundley will likely mix in some plays that don't involve chucking it down the field on every down.
Oregon is expected to see De'Anthony Thomas finally return to action, at least in some capacity. Byron Marshall has filled in admirably in his absence, which has allowed freshman Thomas Tyner to get some valuable experience in with the starters. I would expect all three to carry the ball at some point, and in front of the home crowd, I think Oregon should succeed again this week. It's another test, and certainly the toughest team they've faced to this point in the schedule. With the game at home, I think Oregon will be able to keep their streak alive.
Oregon's last meeting with the Bruins was in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game in 2011. It went well.
Game time is 4:00 PDT in Eugene with national coverage on ESPN. Go Ducks!