Oregon has been a model of consistency in the Pac-12 recently, winning 10 or more games in each of the last five years. The Ducks have been on the doorstep of playing for a national title and they finished last season with a 12-1 mark, with the only defeat coming to Stanford in mid-November.
Chip Kelly left for the NFL, and the keys to one of the nation’s top programs was handed to assistant Mark Helfrich. Oregon has had success by promoting from within, but there’s a lot of pressure for Helfrich to keep the program at the top of the Pac-12.
Even though 2013 will be a year of training for Helfrich, the Ducks are still in great shape to compete for a national title. 16 starters are back, including sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De’Anthony Thomas. The defense ranked third in the Pac-12 in points allowed and should boast one of the nation’s top defensive backfields with the return of junior Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
The schedule is manageable, but road dates against Washington and Stanford could decide whether or not Oregon plays for the national title in 2013.
What will Oregon's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
Oregon's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
8/31 Nicholls State
9/7 at Virginia
10/5 at Colorado
10/12 at Washington
10/19 Washington State
11/7 at Stanford
11/23 at Arizona
11/29 Oregon State
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Mark Helfrich is stepping into one of the best situations for a first-year coach in 2013. Oregon suffered a few key personnel departures (Kenjon Barner, Dion Jordan and Kiko Alonso), but the Ducks are still one of the top-five national title contenders. Expect to see a few tweaks on offense, as Oregon may look to throw more with quarterback Marcus Mariota and a solid group of receivers returning. The defense will need some time to jell, but there’s not an offense that should threaten this team until Oct. 12 at Washington. And even though the front seven will have four new starters, the replacements have played plenty of snaps over the last few years. Coaching transition is never easy, and there may be a few bumps in the road for Oregon in 2013. However, the Ducks should win 10 or 11 games in the regular season this year, with the only loss coming at Stanford in early November. Even if Oregon loses to the Cardinal, I still expect the Ducks to be playing in a BCS bowl in January.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Oregon could easily produce another one-loss, top-five season despite the loss of prolific head coach Chip Kelly. And just like last year, that one loss will come to Stanford and once again cost the Ducks in a big way. With one slip-up, this team will not only miss out on a BCS National Championship berth but also a Pac-12 title. In fact, this team could be a top-five team nationally and not even win the division — just like a year ago. The Oregon offense could be the most dangerous in school history and the best in the nation, but the defense will take a major step back. With teams like Oregon State and Washington improving around them, in particular on defense, the Ducks will again barely miss out on the national title.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. That's the theme for Oregon's 2013 season, as Mark Helfrich replaces Chip Kelly as the head Duck and the team keeps on churning out wins, not to mention a bunch of yards and points. Helfrich's flock shouldn't break much of a sweat until the second week of October in Seattle against Washington, and even then I think the Ducks have too much firepower for the Huskies to match. No, Oregon's season will more than likely again come down to its matchup with Stanford. Even though this one takes place on The Farm, I think quarterback Marcus Mariota, running back De'Anthony Thomas and company learned their lesson from last season's heart-breaking 17-14 overtime loss at home to the Cardinal. This time the Ducks take care of business against their Pac-12 North rival and ride the momentum to an unbeaten regular season and potential BCS title game shot.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Yeah, yeah. I know it’s boring to pick Oregon to go 11-1 with one loss on the road against its best opponent. Road trips to rivals Washington and Oregon State will be difficult, but the Ducks haven’t had trouble with them in the last three seasons. The coaching change is a question mark, but we’re still talking about a dominant team. Oregon was one of only two teams to defeat its home and road opponents each by at least three touchdowns (the other was Alabama). That doesn’t go away over night.
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