Oregon posted a 10-3 season last year, including a Holiday Bowl win over UNC. It was the third straight non-COVID season with double-digit wins for the Ducks, but it had a chance to be so much more.
Oregon’s three losses all came to teams with 10 wins or more—a season-opening blowout loss to eventual national champion Georgia and a pair of frustrating November Pac-12 losses, to Washington and Oregon State, by a total of seven points.
A touchdown’s worth of points in those two league losses kept the Ducks from a Pac-12 title game appearance and a chance at a College Football Playoff berth. This is the last season of a fully intact Pac-12, before several members, including the Big Ten-bound Ducks, leave for greener pastures. Oregon is set up to make a run at leaving the conference on a high note, by taking the extra step that just eluded it last season.
- Oregon lost three games last year, all to 10-win teams, two by a total of seven points.
- Bo Nix returns to lead an offense bolstered by transfers.
- The offensive line needs to replace four starters.
One reason for the struggles last November was an ankle injury to Oregon’s Heisman candidate quarterback, Bo Nix. The former Auburn starter hurt himself in the Washington game and wasn’t the same the rest of the way.
Nix returned to Oregon for one more season and should again flash the form of the playmaker who threw for 3,500 yards, 29 touchdowns and added 500 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.
The Ducks were a national top-10 scoring and total offense last season and had a top-five passing attack.
Lots of Weapons
It will have plenty of weapons for Nix to choose from again this year. Oregon returns its top two running backs in Bucky Irving (1,058 yards and 5 touchdowns) and Noah Whittington (779 and 5) to go with Nix’s running threat.
Top receiver Troy Franklin (61 catches 891 yards, 9 scores) is also back, joined by tight end Terrence Ferguson (32 catches, 391 yards, 5 touchdowns). Oregon also added pass catchers from Alabama, Troy and USC in the transfer portal.
The line is the biggest area of concern, as the Ducks have to replace four starters. Oregon brought in transfers from Texas (Junior Angilau) and Rhode Island (Ajani Cornelius) to help the rebuild, and they’ll fill the other holes from the backup spots on last year’s depth chart.
While the injury to Nix was a big factor in the Ducks missing out on their top-level goals last year, the defense also played a role. Oregon gave up 30 or more points five times last year, including all three losses.
There will be a different look this season, with turnover heavy both coming and going in the transfer portal. The Ducks brought in pass rusher Jordan Burch from South Carolina to line up opposite Brandon Dorlus. The pair had 17 tackles for loss and 6 sacks on their own last season and should be better with opposing lines having to account for both of them at once.
Iowa’s Jestin Jacobs and Arizona State’s Connor Soelle join two returning linebackers, and the secondary added corners Nikko Reed from Colorado and Khyree Jackson from Alabama and safeties Tysheem Johnson and Evan Williams from Ole Miss and Fresno, respectively. Cornerback Triweze Bridges (3 interceptions, 5 breakups) is the top returner.
There’s no opener against Georgia to put the team in a 49-3 hole to start things off. Instead, Oregon has a manageable non-conference slate, with home games against Portland State and Hawaii in Week 3 sandwiched around a trip to Texas Tech.
After a pair of conference games and a week off, Oregon travels to No. 10 Washington in Week 7 with a chance to avenge one of last season’s losses. They head to Utah two weeks later and host USC two weeks after that. Another two weeks, and the Ducks close the regular season with another potential revenge game, home against Oregon State.
With so many new pieces at virtually every area of the team, and a completely rebuilt offensive line, the Ducks could use some time to gel at the start of the year, and the non-conference and early Pac-12 schedule give them a slow ramp to the key games of the season.
Oregon should be clicking by the time it faces Washington, but the season turns into a dogfight the rest of the way, with huge games against ranked foes alternating with potential traps.
It’s hard to envision Oregon getting through the regular season with fewer than two losses, and we’re penciling the Ducks in for three, putting them at nine wins.
NCAAF Pick: Oregon Under 9½ Wins (-125) at BetOnline
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