Hello Followers. Hope you’ve had a great week.
Tomorrow, our Cougies take on the mighty Oregon Ducks in the thriving metropolis known as Eugene Oregon.
Don’t know about you all, but I actually look forward to watching Oregon play 11 or 12 weeks out of the year. But against us? Well, not so much.
I mean, for me, Oregon has come to represent the kid in your school that has to come to your birthday party because he/she so cool. Problem is, when they get there, they’re so much cooler than you and everybody else that it kind of puts a damper on your own celebration…
Will someone please give Phil Knight the pinkslip?
Anyhow, the good news for yours truly is that this Duck game arrives while I am in the midst of a three game losing streak picking the Cougs. Continue reading to find out if my losing streak will continue…
Followers, during the time that Pete Carroll was leading USC to unprecedented heights, I would find myself formulating a recipe for how to beat them every year–a ritual that re-defined the meaning of wasting time.
And so it is this year with the 2013 version of the Oregon Ducks—a team that is as dominant as any Pac-10/Pac-12 team that I’ve ever seen. So, even though I doubt that any team in America is going to even compete with these guys for a full 60 minutes, here’s the recipe for how you beat them:
1) Don’t kick off or punt to them. EVER.
2) Be Beyond Physical—Punch them straight in the bill over and over and over again.
3) Make them Beat You Through the Air.
4) Don’t Run the Ball Against them unless you can do so like LSU, Stanford, or Alabama.
5) Hit them hard and often with the intermediate, vertical passing game
Of course, all of those things are easier said than done. What’s more, because Mariota has shown himself to be one terrific passer, I’m not sure that the passing game represents Oregon’s Achilles heel anymore.
But what I am sure about is that unless you have 10 All-American offensive linemen and one helluva bruiser as a running back, you aren’t going to run the football against Oregon. And the reason is simple: There’s nothing that you can do which is better than what they’ve seen over and over and over again in practice for the past 6 or 7 years.
Anyhow, when you look at the above keys, you can see why there might just be a glimmer of hope for us in this one—just like we’ve had our moments against them the past three years. For one, we now have a kicking game that should allow us to kick the ball out of the endzone on every opportunity. We have a defensive line that is physical enough to make Oregon throw the pill a bit. And because we never run the football, our offense is well positioned to offer Oregon looks that they don’t see very much( although the vertical passing game was a better strength and fixture of the Wulff years than it is for the Air Raid).
Unfortunately for us, really none of the above defensive keys apply to us anymore. And the reason: I don’t think we’re going to do anything special on defense to try to get Oregon’s offense quickly off the field. Instead, I think that Leach and Breske are squarely into the “we do what we do” and “what we do is good enough to win if we do it right” mindset. Moreover, because our next two opponents kind of resemble a cheap replica of Oregon’s offense, you can bet that our coaches want us to get game reps out of the sets we will play against Arizona and Arizona States–e.g, our base defense.
So, I think we can expect that Oregon is going to run and throw all over us from the start of the game until the very end.
To make matters worse, it used to be that you could hang around Oregon because their defense wasn’t very good. In other words, it used to be easy to think that if you could score 42-45 points you had a good chance of winning. Problem is: over the past 20 games, Oregon has given up more than 30 points only 3 times, and more than 40 only once (51 to USC last year in a 62-51 barn-burner in LA). Even worse, they haven't lost ANY of those games. So, the idea that you can stick around them by matching them drive for drive is, well, almost entirely bogus.
In the end, I think the Cougs will play hard. And honestly, I will be looking at the effort side of the ledger more than anything else. But beyond that, I have four goals for this team:
1) To not give up any special teams touchdowns like we did in 2011.
2) To score 30 points on offense.
3) To yield less than 55 points on defense
4) To leave Eugene without any major injuries.
Do all that and we can and should claim a moral victory.
In the end, I think we’ll watch a 31-14 halftime score turn into a 52-14 massacre before the starters find the pine in the fourth. They’ll score another touch, we’ll add one in garbage time and we’ll have a 59-21 final, setting up Arizona State as the most important game we’ve had since the Oregon State game in 2011.
UCLA 31 Stanford 21. Part of me thinks that Stanford is going to respond to last week’s set-back with a strong statement, but UCLA almost won last year’s Pac-12 title game in Palo Alto. This year, UCLA is better and Stanford is worse. That means victory for the Bruins.
Notre Dame 31 USC 14. I would actually really like to see SC win this one in South Bend. Problem is, that SC defense is still reeling a bit from the ASU debacle and I’m afraid the novelty of Eddie O is going to wear off by halftime.
Colorado 24 Charleston 21. Can’t pick the upset because I think Richardson will be enough to pull this one out. But with a new quarterback and a defense that looks as slow as last year, the Buffs could have its hands full.
Washington 48 Arizona State 27. Boy is this one big for Washington. And honestly, I’m still not sure whether or not these guys are tough enough to shake off the yips they get on the road. But, when I look at their offense and their speed on defense, I see a team that is going to run over and through that weak ASU run defense while also giving Taylor Kelly a healthy dose of Shaq Thompson. This one could bring out the boo-birds…
Oregon State 59 CAL 24. Mannion will throw for another 500 yards in this one and will make another statement as to why he is the best pocket passer the conference has seen since Carson Palmer.
Last week: 3-3 (YIKES!)
Season to Date: 30-7
Picking the Cougs: 3-4
All for now. Go Cougs.