Monday, August 24, 2009
Fall approaches! I know this because I am beginning to get excited about college football. My Oregon Ducks look to have a pretty good season.
The teams to beat in the Pacific-10 Conference this year look to be USC (as usual) and Cal-Berkeley, with Oregon and Oregon State not far behind. Arizona isn't bad, and Stanford brings back a lot of players from last year. UCLA and Arizona State look to be competitive as well. That kind of leaves the two Washington schools (UW and WSU) fighting to stay out of the cellar? Who knows! We'll just have to see what happens.
What I like about Oregon's Pac-10 schedule this year is that they get USC, Cal and Oregon State on their home field in Eugene (Autzen Stadium).
What I don't like about the schedule is that they have two extremely difficult non-conference opponents in Boise State and Utah... in fact, those might be two of the Ducks' toughest opponents all season!
But I like Oregon's chances for having a good conference season and for getting to a high-profile bowl game.
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli got into a great groove last year and started gaining some national attention as a multi-faceted athlete who can run and throw with the best. Running back LaGarrette Blount is incredible; he simply mows people over, pushes them out of his way, or hurdles them. It will be fun to see what new coach Chip Kelly can do this year; he was the offensive coordinator last year before taking over as head coach when Mike Bellotti stepped down.
Oregon has enough defensive backs returning to make their pass defense pretty good, and they have added a transfer linebacker named Littlejohn who is supposed to be very good as well. Their question marks are on the offensive and defensive lines, but if either or both of those turn out to be any good at all.... the Ducks will fly in 2009!
Predictions? Blount will run for over a thousand yards, and he will have at least a dozen touchdowns. Masoli will end up getting Heisman Trophy consideration; he won't beat out the media darlings like Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow, but he will be noticed. Oregon will finish the season with a 7-2 record in their conference, and a 9-3 record overall. They will be third in the Pac-10, and they will go to a good bowl game.
And best of all, they will crush the OSU Beavers in Eugene! Heh!
First things first, though... they have to play Boise State on the hideous blue turf of Bronco Stadium. I don't think UO is going to get out of Boise with a win. But after wins at home against Purdue and a tough Utah team, they will be ready for Pac-10 play.
And right here in La Grande we have the Eastern Oregon University Mountaineers, who play at the NAIA level in the Frontier Conference. EOU is the only non-Montana school in the league, so the road trips are long and brutal. I will be at the home opener September 5 against Rocky Mountain College of Billings, MT. And I believe J. Marquis will be there too! 8-)
Go Ducks! Go Mounties!