A very unhappy Oregon Ducks team returns to Autzen Stadium for the first time since losing the BCS Championship Game when they take on the Nevada Wolf Pack in the home opener on Saturday.
The poor Wolf Pack probably have no idea what they are getting themselves into with this one. Sure, this was a team that lost just one game a season ago and won the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against the Boston College Eagles, finishing ranked in the Top 25 in the country, but this isn’t that same 12-1 squad that won the WAC and beat the Boise State Broncos. Gone are QB Collin Kaepernick and RB Vai Taua, as is the other member of that offensive trio that left the year before, RB Luke Lippincott. Four running backs are going to try to replace Taua, led by RB Nick Hale. Senior QB Tyler Lantrip is going to be taking over in place of Kaepernick, who ran this offense for four years, but these are tough shoes to fill, especially for a man who only has 23 pass attempts in his career in Reno. To make matters worse, this defense, which was the Achilles heel of the team at times, has to face arguably the most dynamic offense in the nation.
It was a frustrating, frustrating start to the season for the Quack Attack, as its National Championship dreams might have gone up in smoke before the team even stepped foot into its home stadium. The loss to the LSU Tigers was so bad at 40-27 that the pollsters dropped the Ducks clear out of the Top 10 in the land. RB Kenjon Barner was injured in that game and probably won’t be suiting in this one, and QB Darron Thomas had to throw the ball 51 times. RB LaMichael James might have seen the end of his Heisman Trophy campaign as well after running for just 54 yards and a score, though he did have six receptions for 61 yards as well. Oregon’s offense only accounted for 335 yards, a far cry from the over 600 that the team dropped on a ton of foes last year. You can bet though, that Head Coach Chip Kelly is not a happy man and will not let his team take its foot off of the gas pedal in this one until that clock hits zeroes in the fourth quarter regardless of what the score is.
Nevada Wolf Pack @ Oregon Ducks Pick: The only complacency that we have is that the Ducks might already feel as though the season is over and put up a very Virginia Tech-like effort against the Wolf Pack. However, Kelly won’t let that happen, especially with this being the home opener. Oregon could name the final score of this one if it wanted to, and it’s probably going to start with a ‘6’ for the home side.
Free College Football Pick: Oregon Ducks -26.5 @ Bookmaker Sportsbook
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.