The Oregon Ducks had high hopes going into the 2015 season. Even though they had to replace Heisman quarterback Marcus Mariota. They weren’t able to live up to those expectations and ended up going 9-4.
The Ducks would have made it 8 straight 10+ win seasons had it not been for an epic collapse in the bowl game. Oregon blew a 31-0 lead at the half in a 41-47 triple-overtime defeat.
Failing to live up to the hype last year has limited the expectations going into 2016. Though I wouldn’t be so quick to count out the Ducks. Oregon will go into Mark Helfrich’s 4th year as a legit threat to retake the top spot in the Pac-12 North.
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|10/1||@ Washington State|
|11/26||@ Oregon State|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
*We take the win chance by using the college football win percentage chart for each point spread.
The Ducks will have a golden opportunity to start out the year strong. They open with a cupcake game at home against UC Davis. They then host Virginia and travel to Nebraska to conclude non-conference play.
After that they host Colorado and will go to Washington State. All 5 of those games are very winnable. The key will be getting past Nebraska and Washington State on the road.
Then comes potentially their biggest game of the season at home against Washington. Many are picking the Huskies to win the North and that game could very well decide the champion.
The Ducks should be able to take care of business at Cal and at home against Arizona State. Doing so will be important, as the final 4 games could prove to be challenging.
Oregon has to travel to USC before hosting rival Stanford. They then have to turn around and go to Utah and Oregon State. The key game being the home contest against the Cardinal.
Even with Mariota no longer around, the Oregon offense remained one of the best. The Ducks only saw a marginal decrease in production. Falling from 45.4 ppg and 547 ypg in 2014 to 43.0 ppg and 538 ypg in 2015.
Last year they added in FCS quarterback Vernon Adams out of Eastern Washington. He was every bit as good as expected, but struggled to stay healthy. Unfortunately he was just a 1-year stop gap. Oregon decided to go a similar route to fill the void in 2016.
They added in another big time FCS signal caller in Montana State’s Dakota Prukop. He was a 1st-Team FCS All-American last year. He threw for 3,025 yards with 28 touchdowns. He also rushed for 797 yards. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he put up big time numbers in the Ducks’ fast-paced attack.
Prukop has plenty of weapons around him. The best of those being junior running back Royce Freeman. He was the heart and soul of the offense last year. He rushed for 1,836 yards and 17 scores, while also adding 348 yards and 2 scores receiving. They also get back talented sophomore Taj Griffin, who can do it all.
At wide receiver, they lose their top guy in Bralon Addison, but have plenty coming back. The top threat figures to be junior Darren Carrington. He had 609 yards and 6 scores, despite not playing in the first 6 games. They also welcome back talented senior tight end Pharaoh Brown.
If there’s a concern on this side of the ball, it’s the offensive line. Oregon has to replace 3 starters. The biggest being 1st-Team All-Pac-12 left tackle Tyler Johnstone. How the coaching staff puts together this unit will play a big role in the overall success of the offense.
Not having a healthy Adams at quarterback for half the season hurt. However, it wasn’t as bad as the decline the Ducks suffered on the defensive side of the ball. Oregon gave up a staggering 37.5 ppg and 485 ypg in 2015. That’s after only allowing 23.6 ppg in 2014.
It resulted in the Ducks adding in Brady Hoke as the new defensive coordinator. Hoke failed to live up to expectations as the head coach at Michigan, but could thrive in this role. With him comes the shift to a 4-3 attack from the 3-4 scheme they had been using.
Up front on the defensive line, Oregon has to replace their best player on this side of the ball. That being 2nd-Team All-American defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. They also lose starting nose tackle Alex Balducci and end Tui Talia.
The top returning player is junior defensive end Henry Mondeaux. They also will move senior outside linebacker Torrodney Prevot to defensive end. They also have a promising young player ready to contribute at tackle in sophomore Canton Kaumatule.
With Prevot moving to the d-line, the Ducks don’t have a lot of experience back at linebacker. In fact, they will need to find 3 new starters for 2016. Oregon made it a priority to address this position in the offseason. Two juco transfers figure to make an immediate impact. A.J. Hotchkins will start right away in the middle and Jonah Moi will compete for a starting spot on the outside.
They key to it all will be how Hoke improves a horrendous pass defense from last year. The Ducks finished 125th in the country, giving up 307 ypg through the air. The good news is they have experience with all 4 starters coming back. There’s also a lot of talent to work with.
Regular Season Win Total
Pac-12 North Odds
Pac-12 Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
*Odds updated live on our college football odds page
It’s hard to believe that of all teams the Ducks are flying under the radar. Oregon hasn’t gone worse than 9-4 since 2006. In the last 9 years, they are 98-22.
All the hype is on Washington and Stanford in the North. What people are overlooking is both have to travel to Autzen Stadium. Where Oregon is a dominant 59-9 over the last 10 years.
There are some uncertainties with this team. No one really knows how good Prukop will be and if Hoke can fix the defense in just one offseason. Me personally, I think Prukop is going to be better than expected. All you have to do is look at the near identical numbers they put up after losing a Heisman Trophy winner. They were also just as prolific offensively before Mariota came to town. Even if the defense doesn’t return to it’s previous form, it can’t be any worse than it was last year.
I think the Ducks are the biggest sleeper team in the country. I have them going 7-2 in the Pac-12 and 10-2 overall. I also have Washington going 7-2, but Oregon winning the head-to-head matchup. A perfect 12-0 record and return to the playoffs isn’t out of the question. It’s safe to say I’m a big fan of the OVER 8.5 on their win total.
Win Total Prediction