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Oregon Ducks Preview: 2015-16 NCAA College Football Season

Oregon Ducks Preview: 2015-16 NCAA College Football Season

Marcus Mariota has left Eugene. He’s now in Tennessee, where he’ll help turn around a moribund NFL franchise. The Oregon Ducks, however, are hoping that their unstoppable offense remains…uhm…unstoppable despite Mariota’s departure. Can the Ducks make a seamless transition to a new signal-caller and deliver another outstanding season, one that will lead them back to the College Football Playoff?

Read on for an overview of Oregon’s key player this coming season along with the team’s key game, best/worst scenarios and a complete list of the Ducks’ 2015-2016 schedule.

For more about college football, click here for a preview of Ohio State’s season and here for the early Heisman Trophy candidates.

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2015-2016 Oregon College Football Preview

Overview

[sc:NCAA240banner ]This coming season, the Ducks are about to find out what life is like without Marcus Mariota. With Mariota opting to go pro rather than staying for another year at Eugene, head coach Mark Helfrich now has the critical task of picking the right man to fill the shoes of the Heisman-winning quarterback.

But regardless of whomever it’ll be under center, the Ducks still have a lot of talent remaining throughout their roster, enough to put Oregon among the frontrunners to win not only the Pac-12 conference but the National Championship as well. The Ducks are priced +225 and +1,800 to win their conference and the national title, respectively.

Key Player – Royce Freeman

As mentioned above, the Ducks are yet to pencil in their starting quarterback for next season. At present, Helfrich and the rest of Oregon’s coaching staff are still deciding whether they’ll give the starting gig to redshirt junior Jeff Lockie or Vernon Adams, who transferred from Eastern Washington. So while we wait for the dust of this quarterback battle to settle, running back Royce Freeman gets the label as the Ducks’ most important player.

Everyone knows that Oregon is a very offense-minded team, one that has ranked in the top five in total offense for each of the last five seasons. And a major component of the Ducks’ high-octane offense is the running game that fuels the success of the team’s play-action approach.

Of course, that style couldn’t have worked for Mariota and company without a talented running back like Freeman, who rushed for 1,365 yards last season to go along with a conference-high 18 rushing touchdowns. Next season, Freeman looks to play the same big part for Oregon’s offense. Freeman is +4,000 to win the Heisman Trophy next season.

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Key Game – vs. USC (Nov. 21)

It’s tempting to put the Ducks’ Week 1 game against Eastern Washington here, all because that’s Vernon Adams’ former team. But we have to accept that that contest is more of a side story fodder and less of a pivotal matchup.

So we jump to Week 12, when the Ducks host the USC Trojans for a matchup between two potential College Football Playoff contenders. One might even look at this game as a possible Pac-12 title game preview.

Best/Worst Case Scenario for the Season

Best Case Scenario

Oregon’s bevy of talented skill position returnees compensates for the expected drop in talent in the quarterback role. The backfield plays a bigger role, as Freeman and junior running back Thomas Tyner get more carries, while continuing to confuse opponents when the Ducks’ offense runs play-action. Oregon goes undefeated and gets a lower seed in the College Football Playoff, but wins the national championship nonetheless.

Worst Case Scenario

Helfrich realizes that Lockie and Adams are just not on par with Mariota. Lockie earns the nod to start the season but his lack of meaningful experience causes him to flounder. Adams gets the call afterwards, but soon discovers that the FBS is a completely different universe from the FCS. Oregon’s season doesn’t completely go up in flames but the Ducks will be left out of the Top 15 in the season’s final poll.

Complete Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME
Saturday, Sept 5 vs Eastern Washington 8:00 PM ET
Saturday, Sept 12 @Michigan State 8:00 PM ET
Saturday, Sept 19 vs Georgia State 2:00 PM ET
Saturday, Sept 26 vs Utah TBD
Saturday, Oct 3 @Colorado TBD
Saturday, Oct 10 vs Washington State TBD
Saturday, Oct 17 @Washington TBD
Thursday, Oct 29 @Arizona State 10:30 PM ET
Saturday, Nov 7 vs Cal TBD
Saturday, Nov 14 @Stanford TBD
Saturday, Nov 21 vs USC TBD
Friday, Nov 27 vs Oregon State 3:30 PM ET

Writer’s Prediction

Oregon defends Pac-12 title and lands a spot again in the CFP.

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Rex
Written by Rex

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