Saturday, September 6, 2014

Good Luck Ducks, Week 2: Sparty Pays a Visit

This is the week that we find out if Oregon has a team this year.

I always try to reset my expectations for the Ducks at the beginning of every season. This is based on what I've witnessed in the past, where I've seen teams come from out of nowhere to destroy nationally ranked opponents on national television. I've also seen teams built on a foundation of potato chips crumble the second they face a competent offense. So while last week's demolition of an FCS team was fun, we're about to find out if this year's Ducks model is any good as they face a test in a strong Michigan State team.

The #3 Ducks face the #7 Spartans this week in what is shaping up to be the best non-conference game of the season in all of college football. This is a lot to live up to for a game in early September. I am still getting used to the idea of football games being on the air. These teams may not exactly resemble the teams they will become in November and December. But there will be a lot of talent on the field today, and both sides have lofty expectations. This is the first season with a "playoff" in college football, though you can hardly call it that when only 4 teams are selected to participate. Still, that seems like a massive step in the right direction.

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota was nearly perfect in his half of play last week, and my hopes are that he won't miss a beat this time around. Michigan State's defense will provide significant pressure on the offensive line, a group that let everyone down last season at times. It may be rough. The backup quarterback shouldn't get too comfortable on the sidelines. The lightning fast trio of Duck running backs should be at the top of their game. It's still impossible for me to get a read on this team at this stage, but I am hopeful for a Ducks victory today. I wouldn't take it for granted or even bet a dollar on it, but Oregon has some truly impressive players on their side. Of course, so do the Spartans.

Reuben Droughns announced himself to the rest of the college football world back in 1998, the last time the Spartans visited Eugene.

Game time is 3:30 PDT with national coverage on FOX. College GameDay is in town! Go Ducks!

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