The Oregon Ducks begin another football season with renewed title hopes and one of the top rated players in the game.
Pinch yourself. Rub your eyes a few times. Stare out your window in disbelief, if you will. It's, gulp, football season again. While I wish baseball season could go on forever (and in my dreams, I guess it always will), the schedule makers and handsomely paid devils behind the Great Football Machine have declared this the first week where young people run into each other for little to no compensation.
Oregon begins its season trying to erase the memories of a great season turned spoiled, with ugly losses to Stanford (again) and Arizona (seriously?) relegating the Fighting Ducks to a subpar bowl (Alamo). To their credit, they cruised to victory easily over the outclassed Longhorns playing in their own state, but a new season means a blank slate. Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota is back, along with defensive wizard Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and a host of other stars on both sides of the ball. Gone are standouts like Josh Huff (graduation), De'Anthony Thomas (hanging out with Snoop? or I guess Kansas City) and Colt Lyerla (the less said, the better.) Will the O-line be able to protect the phenomenal Mariota? Will the D-line be able to tackle anyone? You never know anything about a college football team until they get some games in them. I am hopeful about this season but my expectations are not sky high.
Oregon's opponent tonight should also have not-so-sky high expectations. The Ducks continue their educational (for me) tour through the Missouri Valley Conference this season as they play another school that I didn't know actually existed. It's not surprising that there's a state in the union (South Dakota) that has a school named after itself, but I can't recall ever seeing or hearing of such a thing. Not to be confused with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (playing Missouri today), the South Dakota Coyotes will take the field against the #3 ranked team in the country. I assume the Jackrabbits and Coyotes are bitter rivals as well as natural enemies. The Coyotes reportedly play ground & pound, smash mouth (i.e. Stanford style) football, so Oregon will get a chance to play against a style they haven't performed so well against, albeit with the difficulty setting set to "easy". That's the assumption, anyway. Strange things have happened during the first week of past football seasons, and the hope is that the Ducks don't become the latest shocking early season upset in a long line of them (hello, Appalachian State!)
Well, it at least beats last year's opening opponent. Nicholls State came for the sacks of money with dollar signs on them and left Eugene more or less intact.
Game time is 7:30 PDT with national coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Go Ducks!