My fellow Oregonians: the first day of battle to begin a fresh, new campaign is almost upon us. The green and yellow army is beginning its march to the Lone Star State, as a sea of purple and yellow attempts to form a protective moat between the heroes of our story and the ultimate ending to a happy tale, one that slipped away on the tenth day of January in the two-thousand and eleventh year.
September 3rd marks the beginning of a season that’s sure to be an emotional ride, and we’ll find out right away if the Oregon Ducks have what it takes to overcome the team’s most difficult season-opener in school history, off-the-field distractions, next year’s number one overall draft pick, and the target that’s now been placed on the back of every winged jersey.
The Ducks, of course, start the year off against the LSU Tigers, an early test that could vault Oregon onto the inside track for another BCS National Championship appearance, or destroy the team’s aspirations for a second chance at the title, ultimately forcing them to play high-pressure catch-up for the remainder of the college football season.
Comfortable games in Autzen against Nevada and Missouri State will take place in the two weeks following the LSU showdown. Then Oregon’s daunting journey will continue with a trap game at Arizona and two home games against Cal and Arizona State – a couple of teams that nearly beat the Ducks a year ago.
The halfway point will be followed by a game seven feature of a Pac-12 welcoming trip to Colorado and a game eight (expected) tune-up game against the lowly armies of Washington State. Road trips to Washington and Stanford will follow as two of Oregon’s toughest 2011 test, with many calling the Oregon-Stanford game on November 12 the top college football showdown of the entire campaign.
The Ducks cap off the first-ever Pac-12 regular season in front of Autzen Stadium crowds against USC and the hated uglies from Corvallis, with the Autzen faithful expecting no rain in the forecast. Then, with a lot of preparedness, grit, execution, and a dose of good luck, the Ducks will host the Pac-12 South leader in Eugune for the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game.
And then, as expected by many and hoped for by more, the Ducks will take on the number two team in the nation in the BCS National Championship game.
Yes, you guessed it; for the second straight year, I predict Oregon will finish the regular season without a single loss.
2011 prediction: 12-0 overall (9-0 in conference play.)
Last year I received a lot of negative feedback about predicting the Ducks going undefeated, but I honestly kept things pretty simple. I looked at each matchup individually, and each time I saw the Ducks as the better team. The same is true again this year (and I do the best I can to take my fan-side out during this process.)
Oregon is simply the better team in each game. LSU obviously poses an incredible challenge, but I truly believe the Ducks are better, especially considering the depth that Oregon has at its skill positions and the incredible speed at which the green and yellow play. Sure, the Tigers have off-the-field issues “distracting” them, but what team doesn’t? I see no drop-off between Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee; I simply see Oregon as the superior squad.
Stanford looks to be the biggest threat, with Andrew Luck returning for what should be a fantastic 2011 season. Nevertheless, I don’t see any improvements at other positions, with Stanford losing more than they’ve gained, especially in the coaching category. Oregon won last year by shutting down Luck, even after going down by double digits. This year they’ll be more disciplined, and I see no reason why the Ducks would be the worst team on the field that day.
Games at Arizona (Sep. 24) and vs. Arizona State (Oct. 15) look like potential concern games. You’ll remember both teams hanging with the Ducks last year, with the Ducks having to force six turnovers against ASU to win the game. But, again, the Ducks are the better team, and they shouldn’t lose either one.
At Washington (Nov. 5) could be a huge problem, considering the game against Stanford (to be played the following week) could distract Oregon’s focus. But with Chip Kelly’s ability to get his team to “Win The Day,” the distraction might just stay away long enough to beat what should be a surprisingly quality team.
You can hold me to this prediction all season, just like last year. But you’ll get an awfully early chance to call me wrong if the Ducks don’t take care of business in Cowboys Stadium.
Have any thoughts of your own? You’re encouraged to comment at the bottom of the article!
© 2011 Max Price – All Rights Reserved.
Follow me on Google+, Twitter @OsportsExaminer and on Facebook.
Click the “SUBSCRIBE” button under the article title to receive free updates on important Oregon Ducks Football articles sent directly to your e-mail.
Max also covers the Portland Trail Blazers and Pacific University Boxers for joltleft.com. In addition, he covers all sports in Oregon for OregonSportsNews.com.