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Marcus Mariota has been one of the top freshmen in college football this season.
With Oregon's win over California, the Ducks moved to 10-0 with at least two games remaining. Oregon hosts Stanford this Saturday and plays at Oregon State the following week. If the Ducks navigate both games unbeaten, they will play in the Pac-12 title game against USC or UCLA.
Will Oregon Finish the 2012 Regular Season Unbeaten?
Coach Terry Donahue, former head coach of UCLA and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I think Oregon will finish the season unbeaten. Oregon's quarterback, Mariota, is playing as well as any in the country. And I've just never been around a team or seen a team that is as hard to defense and stop with one week's preparation as Oregon is. I think they're the best team in the country.
Kyle Kensing (@Kensing45),SaturdayBlitz.com:
This Oregon football team is the best in Chip Kelly's tenure -- a lofty distinction given each of his previous three teams won the Pac-12. Now that said, this season the conference is at its best all-around during the same span, and Oregon is facing its toughest stretch of 2012. To borrow a line from Scarface, it's no duck walk for Oregon (cue groans) but it will go undefeated.
Stanford is a great team with a style on the opposite end of the spectrum from UO, but the Ducks easily handled the Cardinal the last two seasons -- those were better Stanford teams. Oregon State has vastly exceeded expectations, and the Beavers host the Civil War. Yet as good as OSU's been defending the rush, I don't see it slowing Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas.
That leaves the conference championship and the winner of UCLA-USC coming to Autzen. USC scored 51 points on what is typically a very good Oregon defense, and lost. Last time in Autzen, USC played about as close to a perfect game as it could and would have lost had UO had 50 more seconds. Since the Cal loss, UCLA has made the longest in-season strides of any team in the nation, but the Bruins' style when paired against Oregon becomes a struggle-in-quicksand scenario.
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
Oregon is the best team remaining among the three undefeated teams atop the BCS standings. That said, Oregon stands the best chance of losing before bowl season. Injuries are catching up to the Ducks at just the wrong time with a game against a physical Stanford team coming up. The greatest X-factor in that game, though, may be the play of new Stanford starting quarterback Kevin Hogan. And beyond that game, Oregon will go to Corvallis. Oregon undoubtedly has an edge with four consecutive wins, but crazy things happen in this rivalry.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
With Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M, the path to the national title is clear for Oregon. If the Ducks win their final three games, there’s little doubt they will play for the BCS title in early January. However, mounting injuries are a concern for coach Chip Kelly and his team. Oregon has lost a handful of key players on defense, and the front seven was full of backups against California. Making matters worse for the Ducks is a schedule that will only get more difficult over the next few weeks. Stanford’s physical offensive line and front seven on defense will be a difficult matchup for Oregon. And a road date against rival Oregon State won’t be easy, especially since the Beavers could be playing for a BCS bowl. Although the schedule is going to get tougher and the injuries are a concern, I think the Ducks will run the table and finish the regular season unbeaten. Even though the defense may give some points over the next few weeks, there are few offenses that can match Oregon’s high-powered attack.
Provided Oregon avoids a significant injury (Kenjon Barner, Marcus Mariota I'm looking at you), I see no reason why the Ducks won't finish the regular season as the undefeated champions of the Pac-12. There's no doubt they will have to earn it, with games against Stanford, at Oregon State and then presumably either a rematch with USC or meeting with UCLA in the Pac-12 title game remaining, but the Ducks simply have too much offense for any of these teams to overcome in my opinion. Yes, Stanford and Oregon State appear to have much better defenses, at least on paper, then what USC (62 points, 730 yards allowed) and Oregon's other conference victims have put up thus far. However, Oregon's offense looks pretty good on paper too, and it's been even more lethal and dangerous on the field. Whether it's the explosiveness of the Ducks' skill players, their offensive tempo or quick-strike ability, sooner or later, they will put points on the board, as in 54.8 per game. That's nearly 17 more than the next highest-scoring Pac-12 team, which isn't Stanford or Oregon State. The Cardinal and the Beavers may be able to slow down the Ducks, but I don't see either team or the eventual South champion stopping Chip Kelly's squad in their goal of getting to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami Gardens, Fla., in January.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I believe the Ducks will run the table, but it’s not going to be easy battling three solid opponents and mounting injuries. Oregon will be favored against Stanford, Oregon State and the Pac-12 South winner (USC/UCLA), but the attrition on defense is becoming a big concern. The Ducks have lost safeties John Boyett and Avery Patterson for the season, and several other stalwarts like Dion Jordan and Michael Clay have missed time. Obviously if Chip Kelly’s crew keeps scoring at the current level (55.1 points per game in Pac-12 play), no one may be able to keep up with the Ducks. Both the Cardinal and Beavers rank in the top ten in the country in rushing defense, but Oregon torched both of those teams on the ground last season. I see the most dangerous opponent for UO being state-rival OSU but will project the Ducks to go undefeated and play in the BCS Championship game.
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