Saturday, September 13, 2014

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: Good Morning Football

Oregon faces their final nonconference test in the earliest home start time I can ever remember.

There was a moment during last week's battle between top 7 teams where it felt like the game was getting away from the Ducks. Michigan St. QB Connor Cook was seemingly able to do anything and everything that he wanted while his team racked up 24 points in the second quarter alone. Oregon punted the ball more than I can remember seeing in the post-Mike Belliotti era. 3-and-outs had replaced the hurry-up-and-run-all-over-you offense as the new norm. And suddenly, early in the second half, the funk was over. Perhaps more impressive than the quick strike offense (we've seen that before) was the defense controlling the outcome and all but shutting down the running game. This is the first year in a very long time without Nick Aliotti in charge of the defense, and I have to say this was a good sign early in Don Pellum's tenure that things may be changing. The Ducks spoke throughout the offseason of trying to be more physical and they certainly looked it against the Spartans when it mattered most.

This morning, Oregon kicks off at a very strange start time (for a home game, anyway) against Wyoming, the only Mountain West team they have never faced. Wyoming won their first two games as well, though the offense put up just 17 points in each of those games. They will likely need a lot more than that to give Oregon a run for their money. The key to shutting down the Cowboys appears to be shutting down their running game, similar to last week's opponent. On a personal note, I used to joke a lot about Wyoming (the state) possibly not actually existing, since I had never met anyone from there. I still haven't, but I suspect that I may know or have come into contact with people in my life who have at least been through there at one point. If you're supposedly from Wyoming or have any good Wyoming stories, feel free to chime in with a comment.

I think the #2 ranked Ducks will win big today, but after a huge win last week and a rivalry game on the horizon for next week, this does have the makings of a potential trap game. For their part, I don't recall Oregon falling into too many of those traps. If Marcus Mariota can keep things rolling and the freshmen contribute even half as much as they did last week, the Ducks should have this one comfortably in hand before the game gets late.

Oregon's last meeting with a Mountain West opponent was in 2012 when they faced Fresno State.

Game time is 11:00 AM (what?) PDT with national coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Special thanks to Brandon L for the amazing card. Go Ducks!

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